Showing posts with label calendar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label calendar. Show all posts

Monday, February 2, 2009

Chairman Steele and the 2012 Presidential Primary Calendar

Marc Ambinder has within the last week written some interesting stuff about the choice in the RNC chair race and the ramifications that may have on the presidential primary calendar for 2012 (see here and here). Let me put it this way: Michael Steele's selection was not greeted happily by Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee or any other social conservative thinking about throwing their name in the ring for a run at the White House in 2012.


Well, as the National Review mentioned in December, the new chairman is charged with some new powers that haven't been granted RNC chairs in the past. These new powers originated with the decision at last September's convention in Minneapolis to allow for the rules governing the 2012 nomination process to be altered outside of the bounds of the convention. In the past the GOP has simply crafted the rules for four years down the road at the preceding convention. As a part of opening that process up, the chair of the national party was given the ability to name nearly 80% of the members of this commission, or drafting committee, as Ambinder calls it.

Does this mean that significant change is on the way?

Not necessarily, but with Steele in place as the new chair of the RNC, it is more likely that a significant re-write of the rules will be undertaken than if one of the more conservative candidates for the position had won enough votes last Friday.

Here's the thing, though: I don't see the nomination process being turned upside down. [FAMOUS LAST WORDS!] What I do see is an effort to make some more moderate Republican (perhaps even Democratic) states a part of the exempt group of states at the beginning of the process (See the Democratic Party in 2006 with the exemption of South Carolina and Nevada.). No Republican since 1980 has won the party's nomination without winning South Carolina's primary first. Water down the impact of the Palmetto state's contest on the process with some less conservative states and the dynamics of nominee selection could be changed dramatically.

That is a far easier way of creating a path to the nomination for a more moderate Republican. It doesn't involve a complete overhaul of the system -- needed though it may be in the eyes of some -- and totally circumvents the possibility that there are multiple states that cannot comply with Republican Party rules, thus having to face holding a less representative caucus instead of a primary.

Again, nothing is written in stone at this point. But Steele's position at the top of the Republican Party makes it more likely than any of the other five candidates, save former Michigan GOP chair, Saul Anuzis, that there will be some significant changes to the 2012 presidential primary calendar.

[NOTE(S): Speaking of primary calendars, I'll be posting the dates of the contests from 1976-2008 to go along with the maps I posted last week. When that process is complete, all those maps in the left sidebar will be "click to enlarge" ready. I realize that is one major drawback to their presence there now, but the slideshow is still basically at the top of the front page. Also, I'll have a bit more on reform as the week goes on. I'm busily plowing through the symposium on presidential primary reform in the latest issue of PS as well as the Dan Lowenstein chapter on the possibility of federal intervention. Good stuff and it is all comment-worthy. Finally, thanks for your patience. I was on the road last week at a job interview and was busy, busy, busy while I was there and exhausted when I got back. That's why posting has been light since I put the maps up last week. However, with state legislatures back in session and me putting the finishing touches on my dissertation, relevant posts should be increasing in number as we head into spring.]

Recent Posts:
Presidential Primary and Caucus Dates Over Time

Presidential Primary and Caucus Dates Over Time (Take 1)

New Jersey in 2012

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Backloading in 2012? Arkansas is Moving Closer

Back in May, just before Arkansas was to hold its primaries for state and local offices, State Rep. Nathan George (D-Dardanelle) went public with a call for legislation to move the state's 2012 presidential primary back to May from February to again coincide with the other primaries. On Thursday that call got a bit closer to reality as George and State Rep. Jon Woods (R-Springdale) prefiled a bill (HB 1021) that would come up for consideration once the 87th General Assembly convenes in January. The proposed legislation very simply strikes the changes made to Arkansas election law in 2005 when the separate February Arkansas presidential primary was signed into law by Governor Mike Huckabee.

Arkansas, then, was one of the first states to move in anticipation of 2008 and may again be quick to react with 2012 on the distant horizon. Well, why would Arkansas want to do this; to go against the frontloading trend? Here are a couple of points I made back in May about the reasoning behind such a move when this story came up the first time:
1) Financial concerns: If the return on investment is viewed as sub-par, then the decision may be made to move back and save the money. Having an influence over who the nominee is before the decision is made, though, may outweigh that. Which brings up...

2) Will 2012 more closely resemble 2004 or 2008? If it is the former, Arkansas may value that influence even if it means scant attention from the candidates among a crowded field of contests. If 2012 looks like 2008, Arkansas could move back and get more attention.
Well, if the state is making their decision on 2012 now -- in this economic climate -- then that first point will likely play a major role in the legislature's thinking on this particular piece of legislation. "Return on investment? Who needs that? Let's just save some money!" And the second point could be rendered moot by the first. "We didn't have an impact in February and we never really had an impact when the presidential primary was in May. So what does it matter when we do this? Let's just save some money!"

Now, it could be viewed as rash for the Arkansas General Assembly to act now, but the Natural state isn't likely to prove decisive anyway. [Sorry Arkansans.] The thinking in the past has been "if you can't be decisive at least be a part of the decision." In other words, make sure to hold your primary before the nomination has been decided. That rationale has spurred an awful lot of frontloading in the past. However, that could change if states continue to pinch pennies.

The implication here isn't really the backloading but the potential for coincidental primaries as a budgetary measure. Could we see, for instance, some of the northeastern states (ie: Connecticut, New York, Vermont) with late summer/early fall primaries for state and local offices move those up to coincide with their presidential primaries as a cost-saving mechanism? Instead of backloading the presidential primary, then, we witness the frontloading of state and local primaries.

I don't suspect we'll have an answer to this in any substantial way until after the 2010 midterms, the point after which most state begin mulling their plans for the next presidential election year. Regardless, it will be worth keeping an eye on.

UPDATE: Kate Bodenhamer over at CapSearch adds that the separate presidential primary cost the state $1.7 million in 2008. Adjusted for inflation, that could be a pretty good chunk of change in 2012.

Recent Posts:
The 2012 Presidential Primary Calendar

Maryland GOP to Jump Iowa/New Hampshire in 2012?

FHQ Hasn't Disappeared...It Just Seems That Way

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The 2012 Presidential Primary Calendar

For the most up-to-date version of this calendar see the left sidebar under the 2012 electoral college projection or click here.

This verges on the ludicrous, but last week I thought I would glance back at the state laws in place regarding the timing of presidential primaries for 2012. My intent was to see if the changes made for the 2008 cycle were permanent shifts or merely one and done changes for this past cycle.

This is certainly a fluid process and will change over the course of the next few years, but I thought it might be instructive to start with a baseline from which we can compare changes. As I have stated, there will likely be less frontloading in 2012 for a couple of reasons:
1) Most of the 2008 moves were permanent. What that means is that fewer states will have the ability to move to earlier dates if the rules regarding the timing of primaries and caucuses remain the same for 2012. Most are already at the earliest allowable date -- the first Tuesday in February.

2) Barring a failed Obama presidency, the president-elect will not be challenged in the Democratic primaries. Only one party, then, will have an active contest for its nomination. And as the Maryland case demonstrated only yesterday, partisanship is a powerful potential factor in the frontloading equation. When both parties have a contested nomination, both parties within a state (or state legislature) can take an "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" approach to frontloading. In other words, if both parties are motivated to move forward, then where's the harm? This is why I've said that GOP-controlled states will be the most likely movers for 2012 holding all other factors equal. They face only token Democratic opposition to a move that could potentially help a Republican nominee. In Democratic-controlled states or competitive (evenly divided) states, that opposition is greater.

Take the Maryland example: The Maryland GOP is discussing a split to the their delegate allocation structure. Some delegates would be at stake in the party's February 2012 primary, but they want to establish a caucus that would jump Iowa and New Hampshire. So the first salvo has already kinda sorta been fired. And the thing is, Maryland's GOP is considering this because there's no way the Democratic-controlled legislature is going to go along with a plan to move the state's primary to an earlier date [especially when that could help a potential nominee build grassroots in the state and challenge Obama in the state. Yes, yes, I'm fully aware that Obama's efforts in South Carolina during the primary campaign didn't prove fruitful in November. But my point is that there is no way the Maryland legislature is going to pass off on such a move, much less the Democratic governor, if there is even a slightly chance that it would slightly help the Republican candidate.].
Regardless, here is how things look for 2012 more than three years away from the opening contests of the nomination campaign (All of the following are primaries unless otherwise noted.).
Monday, January 16, 2012: Iowa caucuses*

Tuesday, January 24
: New Hampshire*

Saturday, January 28: Nevada caucuses*, South Carolina*

A note on the placement of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina

Tuesday, January 31
: Florida

Tuesday, February 7 (Super Tuesday): Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah

Saturday, February 11: Louisiana primary

Tuesday, February 14: Maryland, Virginia

Tuesday, February 21: Wisconsin

Tuesday, February 28: Arizona**, Michigan***

Tuesday, March 6: Massachusetts***, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont

Tuesday, March 13: Mississippi

Tuesday, March 20: Colorado caucuses****

Tuesday, April 24: Pennsylvania

Tuesday, May 8: Indiana, North Carolina and West Virginia

Tuesday, May 15: Nebraska, Oregon

Tuesday, May 22: Idaho, Kentucky

Tuesday, June 5: Montana, New Mexico***** and South Dakota

*New Hampshire law calls for the Granite state to hold a primary on the second Tuesday of March or seven days prior to any other similar election, whichever is earlier. Florida is first now, so New Hampshire would be a week earlier at the latest. Traditionally, Iowa has gone on the Monday a week prior to New Hampshire. For the time being we'll wedge Nevada and South Carolina in on the Saturday between New Hampshire and Florida, but these are just guesses at the moment. Any rogue states could cause a shift.

**In Arizona the governor can use his or her proclamation powers to move the state's primary to a date on which the event would have an impact on the nomination. In 2004 and 2008 the primary was moved to the first Tuesday in February.

***Massachusetts and Michigan are the only states that passed a frontloading bill prior to 2008 that was not permanent. The Bay state reverts to its first Tuesday in March date in 2012 while Michigan will fall back to the fourth Tuesday in February.

****The Colorado Democratic and Republican parties have the option to move their caucuses from the third Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in February.

*****The law in New Mexico allows the parties to decide when to hold their nominating contests. The Democrats have gone in early February in the last two cycles, but the GOP has held steady in June. They have the option of moving however.

I've obviously added some caveats already, but there is one big one that I should note as well. On the surface this looks like a far less frontloaded calendar. However, it only accounts for a handful of caucuses -- the most predictable early ones and those that are controlled by state law. Montana and West Virginia Republicans in 2008, for instance, opted for caucuses as opposed to primaries and shifted them to Super Tuesday. That could certainly happen again. The other caucus states will be determined at a later date, as the states' delegate selection plans emerge in probably 2011.

Now that we have a baseline for comparison let the frontloading begin. You're on the clock Maryland.

Recent Posts:
Maryland GOP to Jump Iowa/New Hampshire in 2012?

FHQ Hasn't Disappeared...It Just Seems That Way

Live Blog and Open Thread: Georgia Senate Runoff

Monday, April 7, 2008

Frontloading Under Fire: The Ohio Plan & the GOP in 2012

NOTE: See also FHQ's broader discussion on a wide array of presidential primary reform plans here.

From the "Things that May Destroy Your Blog" file
, the GOP has advanced a plan to reform the scheduling aspect of its presidential nominating system. Fortunately Blogger allows me to change the blog name, but unfortunately, Regional Primary HQ doesn't have quite the same ring to it as Frontloading HQ. [Of course, that name has its drawbacks too. A change may solve the problem of having people stop by thinking they are on a blog devoted to the finer points of frontloading washing machines.]

What, though, is this Ohio Plan? How does it change things? And most importantly, what is the likelihood that this plan is put into action? As both the CQ article (linked above) and The Fix describe it, the Ohio Plan is an equal parts lottery and regional primary system for determining the order in which states hold delegate selection events. Under the terms of the plan pas by the Republican party rules committee last Wednesday, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina would retain their status as the first states to hold contests. What follows is what is different though. With the goal of eliminating the chaos of frontloading, the Ohio Plan places the next 14 electorally smallest states as the next step in the process. That leaves 32 which are split into three groups (no longer regionally aligned according to the plan agreed to by the GOP rules committee). Those three "pods" would remain the same and rotate which one went first behind the smallest states every four years. Here are those pods (via The Fix):
Pod X: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Wisconsin, Utah, and Washington

Pod Y: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia

Pod Z: Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania

This plan avoids the regional candidate issue that I raised in last week's post. It also maintains some level of retail politics by preserving the position of the traditional first states and augments that to some degree by positioning the smallest states next. As I stated, the goal is to reverse the frontloading trend the process has witnessed during the post-reform era. In the end the plan offers a scenario where the decision on the placement of nominating contests is nationalized to some degree. And that opens up a Pandora's box of issues. The end is an admirable goal, but the means of implementing such a plan are full of problems.

Why (and where) will the Ohio Plan face resistance? The first hurdle to clear is the Republican party at the St. Paul convention this summer. Traditionally, the GOP has set the rules of delegate selection and allowed the states to decide where (within a window of time) to hold their contests. That jibes well with the party's overarching themes of a smaller national government intervening less in decisions best made by states. From an economic perspective, the markets dictate where the states will go--earlier is better in the frontloaded era. Why then, would the GOP go along with this? It isn't clear that they will. There is some opposition to the Ohio Plan and that dissension is best voiced by South Carolina GOP chairman, Katon Dawson (from The Detroit News):
"If you look at the process we have, it worked. The RNC should decide a date, decide the penalties (for violating the date) and move forward."
Now there's that skepticism toward change that you expect from the conservative party in a two party system. Change in this process being driven by the Republican party is something of a foreign concept. Typically, it has been the Democratic party that made the changes only to have the GOP follow suit. The roles are being reversed here somewhat. It should be noted though, that it was the Republicans in 1996 who first proposed and instituted the bonus delegate incentive plan to entice states to hold their delegate selection events at later times; something the Democrats have since adopted as well.

The GOP rules committee passed this plan by a two to one margin, so let's assume for the sake of argument (and for the sake of fun) that this thing passes muster at the convention in September. Well, we have a new system then, right? Ah, if only things worked that easily. As the CQ piece alludes to, the state parties and state governments become the subsequent hurdles to clear. The state parties are one thing: they are an extension of the national parties in most respects, but they only directly influence the decreasing number of caucuses. And those are contests in the small states that stand to gain from these proposed changes.

Most states have primaries now; the parameters of which are settled on by state governments. And that ushers in partisanship as a major obstacle. Are states controlled by Democrats going to go along with these changes if either they or the the DNC oppose them? That remains to be seen, but could hamper the possibility of change. State parties have the final say on whether to go along with the date the state legislatures have decided on, but rarely opt against a state funded contest if the alternative is a party funded primary or caucus.

Well, how did the drastic changes the Democrats made for the 1972 cycle ever get passed and why couldn't history repeat itself? One side effect of those reforms was a growing number of primaries (as opposed to caucuses). Those primaries were instituted by the predominantly Democratic state legislatures of the time. In the post-reform era the shift on the state legislative level has been toward the GOP (especially following the party's successes in the 1994 midterm elections). That's good for Republicans, but means that the balance of partisan power in those institutions is more evenly dispersed now. In other words, big changes to this system sanctioned by a national entity (either national party) require harmonious, collective action on the part of state governments with differing levels of partisan balance.

This isn't a recipe for change.

What do we have then? Well, the movement of primaries since the McGovern-Fraser reforms has the system inching closer to a national primary. And as more and more states began to position themselves earlier for 2008, several polls indicated support for the idea of a national primary. And while that doesn't settle the problem of the compression of the frontloaded calendar, it at least removes the chaotic movement of states from cycle to cycle. It also is the path of least resistance (read: cheapest, least conflicting).

Oh, and it allows me to keep the blog name going.

...until all the states move up.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Republicans and the 2012 Calendar

It must be April Fool's Day or something because the content around FHQ has been decidedly 2012 today. [See, I'm even using numbers as adjectives now.] Anyway, no sooner did Rob bring up the idea of presidential nomination reform in the comments to the Kansas post below than it came out that the Republican rules committee is meeting in New Mexico to discuss the primary calendar for 2012. And you have to love the sources for the stories on the subject: the Manchester Union-Leader and the Detroit News. On the one hand, you have a paper from the accustomed primary process top dog, New Hampshire, and on the other, a publication originating from occasional malcontent, Michigan.

Why so hard on Michigan?

Oh, they're not so bad. They've just been the face of the discontent with the favored positions Iowa and New Hampshire have enjoyed quadrennially in the post-reform era (and before).

Well, what about Florida?
They moved too. Yeah, but they don't have a history of trying to rock the boat like Michigan. Sure both states moved to positions in violation of both parties' rules for 2008, but Michigan has done this before. The state actually voted on delegates to a binding January 1988 Republican state convention in the late summer of 1986 (see here and here for more)! How's that for frontloading? Voting in 2011 doesn't seem so bad now.

Better's that for going off on a tangent?

So the GOP is meeting to discuss various reform ideas for the 2012 calendar. Most of them appear to be a collection of regional primary plans. And as I stated in the comments of the Kansas post, I'm not a big fan. Some of the fairness issues are solved for the states but remain for all but the best-financed candidates. In the absence of retail politics in Iowa and New Hampshire, the playing field is tilted even further in the direction of the front-running candidates. On top of that, you introduce regional advantages for candidates as well. What problems does it solve? What problems does it create? The latter outweighs the former in my opinion.

Fine, what is a better plan then? There are two routes to take:
1) Leave it alone. Most of the states that moved to February 5 for 2008 did so permanently. Are they likely to move again is the question though? I've looked into this in my research and have found mixed results. States that move, are more likely to move again, but only if the rules change to allow it. When the earliest possible point to hold a nominating contest is moved, states that have moved in the past are more likely to move again. We probably won't see the window moved any earlier than the first Tuesday in February in 2012, and that means that all the states that were on that date in 2008 will likely be there again in 2012. The early state legislative action on this front for 2012 so far has indicated that other states looking into a move are not considering anything ahead of that point. Well, Kansas is, but we're talking three days ahead of it and not three weeks before that point like Michigan was this time around. I just don't see any other renegade states willing to queue up to be the next Florida or Michigan--to gamble taxpayer money on a potentially empty contest. The "leave it alone" approach gets the system closer to a national primary which still offers an uneven playing field for the candidates. Oh, but this is the cheapest option too. Sure, that sounds petty and somewhat cynical, but you can't underestimate that fact.

Let us not forget that there will more than likely be an incumbent running in 2012. That means that the "I'll scratch your back if you'll scratch mine" attitude that could have been in play in state legislatures and state governments among partisans of all stripes this cycle will potentially be displaced by the "you want me to help your party pick someone to beat our guy" mindset. States then, with a unified state government controlled by the party outside of the White House could have a leg up on other states.

2) The American Plan. Thomas Gangale's plan is the plan I'd endorse if the decision were up to me. It is lottery-based and favors the small states being first; not necessarily Iowa and New Hampshire, but small states that allow for some form of retail politics. The system also allows for the big states--most notably California--to go as early as the fourth interval. Each interval is a two week period and there are ten intervals in all. The result is a twenty week season that starts in mid-February and ends in late June. This plan acts to end the compression that frontloading has brought on and removes the chaotic aspect of the process that has turned people off.

Only one of the plans on the table in New Mexico for the GOP is lottery-based though and I have no idea whether that is the American Plan or a modified version of it. If a vote takes place on the issue it will be tomorrow.


Kansas Tries to Get Back on the Horse for 2012

After an on again, off again flirtation with re-establishing and frontloading a presidential primary for the 2008 nomination cycle, the Kansas legislature is at it again. This time though, they have the 2012 elections in mind. The House passed a bill on Friday to permanently set establish a presidential primary on the first Saturday in February every presidential election year. That bill [H 2683] subsequently passed the Senate in the form of an amendment to a committee report (I'm not a fan of the Kansas legislature's web page, but if you want to track the progress of the bill just enter "2683" in "Track a Bill" search area on the right side of the main page.). During yesterday's session, that report was referred to the House where a conference committee between the chambers was requested and then agreed to by the Senate.

So Kansas joins Kentucky, Indiana and Minnesota as states that are already casting an eye toward the next presidential election cycle (...while the current one is still in progress). The Kansas legislature has been a bit more clever (or not so clever) in its approach to 2012 though. First, the proposal places the primary on a weekend as opposed to the usual Tuesday position that most states use. And with the calendar set up as it is in 2012, that means this primary would precede the first Tuesday in February (the time when most of the states that moved for 2008 will be going in 2012). If the national parties stick with their 2008 rules--the same rules that make the first Tuesday in February the earliest point at which a non-Iowa or New Hampshire contest can be held--then the 2012 Kansas primary would be in violation and subject to sanctions. Kansas, I'd like to introduce you to Florida and Michigan.

Of course, there are a couple of other considerations here as well. Will the parties keep the same sanctions for 2012 or will they alter them in some way? Both parties decided to penalize states in violation in 2008 half their delegates. The Democratic party also sought to sanction candidates campaigning in violator states and then tried to make an example of Florida and then Michigan. Given the situation that has arisen out of the Florida and Michigan moves, the DNC may revisit that sanction regimen at this summer's convention.

The Kansas legislature doesn't seem to be bothered by the threats anyway--no matter which form they take. The proposal on the table for 2008 called for a February 2 primary which would have broken the current rules (costing them half their delegates on the Republican side and more than likely all of them in the Democratic race). Kansas then, appears to be making the same gamble that Florida and Michigan made, and in the process have signaled that they value the exposure such a contest brings over representation at the conventions.

The question has already been asked of me but I'll pose it here in this forum: Will states change their strategy for 2012 given the way 2008 has gone? In other words, will some states consider moving to later dates in anticipation of another 2008-like contest? So far, all the evidence points toward no being the answer. Kansas, Kentucky, Indiana and Minnesota lawmakers all seem to think that the system will return to the "earlier is better" model typical of the Super Tuesday era.

Friday, March 14, 2008

1980 vs. 2008

I've been in the "lab" this last week working with dissertation data and noticed a bit of a quirk in the nomination calendars of past cycles. [Yes, the exciting life of a person who examines delegate selection event positioning. Ooh and technical jargon, too!] The calendar for the 1980 cycle and the one for this current cycle are exactly the same. No, I don't mean that California went on June 3 during both years because California definitely doesn't have another presidential primary planned for this year [...that I know of]. The actual yearly calendars for both years are the same though. So it was interesting to look at where states were then versus where they have gone or will go this year.

Pennsylvania drew my attention to this. I looked and saw that the Keystone state held its nominating contest on the same April 22 date in 1980 that they will hold their contest on this year. And seven other states fit the same category in one way or another. Indiana, North Carolina (both May 6) and Oregon (May 20) are holding primaries for both parties on the same dates they did in 1980. Nebraska (May 13) and Idaho (May 27) Republicans are also holding primaries on the same dates they did twenty-eight years ago. Both are state funded primaries that Democrats have opted out of. Nebraska Democrats just this cycle abandoned that third Tuesday in May date for a caucus the weekend after Super Tuesday. Idaho Democrats have long shunned the state primary in favor of a caucus (every cycle from the 1980 onward). And though Montana Democrats (June 3) have switched back and forth several times between holding independent caucuses or state run primaries to select delegates, they have opted to employ the first Tuesday in June date on which the state's primaries are typically held. Finally, Kentucky has frontloaded its primary for 2008 versus 1980; moving up a week from May 27 to May 20 over the course of those twenty-eight years.

The question is: What stands in the way of these states moving like all the rest? Well, all of these states with the exception of Indiana have moved since 1980. North Carolina and Kentucky moved up for the Southern Super Tuesday in 1988. [Actually Kentucky switched to a caucus for 1984 and was a part of a Southern Super week. Following Alabama, Florida and Georgia's second Tuesday in March contests, Kentucky, Arkansas and Mississippi all held caucuses on the Saturday after.] The legislation in both cases called for temporary moves. Oregon moved to mid-March in 1996 and Pennsylvania moved to early April in 2000 before immediately returning to their traditional dates. And even though Idaho, Montana and Nebraska have maintained the same state funded presidential primary dates throughout this period, one party has consistently shown the willingness to opt out and hold a caucus independent of the state.

Why then is Indiana different? Part of the reason is that Indiana holds their presidential primaries simultaneously with its state and local primaries. Moving entails either moving all of the primaries or creating an all new election; both of which have costs. Incidentally, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oregon and Pennsylvania all are in the same boat. Both Alabama and Arkansas were in similar situations before both severed the bond between presidential and state/local primaries to hold a separate presidential primary in 2008. Those moves underscore a couple of trends that have emerged. First, more and more states have been willing to split primaries over this period. There has also been a movement away from temporary moves toward more permanent moves. I would argue that as the frontloaded/Super Tuesday model became normalized, states shifted from temporary moves to test the waters of the new process to permanent moves to be a part of the established system or be left on the outside looking in.

This split primaries issue is the basis of one of my dissertation chapters, the roots of which can be found in this paper from SPSA 2007.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Indiana Shifts Focus to 2012

Stuck on a first Tuesday in May date again for the 2008 cycle, Indiana is among the first to begin thinking about moving its presidential primary for 2012 (Granted, many of the states that moved for the 2008 cycle moved permanently as opposed to the temporary move the NY legislature used in the 1990s.). State Rep. Suzanne Crouch (R-Evansville) has said recently that she plans on introducing a bill during the general assembly's 2009 session to move the state's primaries (all of them) to an earlier date.

I found it odd that Rep. Crouch would wait until next year when momentum may no longer be behind moving the primary. The assembly does meet every year unlike some states out west (eg: Oregon), which meet only every other year. So that wasn't the issue.

As the above article indicates several measures moving the primary have been proposed in the past only to fail. The difference this time seems to be that Rep. Crouch is advocating moving not only the presidential primary but the state and local primaries as well. Not to toot my own horn, but my own research has found that this is a major obstacle to a state frontloading its presidential primary. States that hold those two sets of primaries together are confronted with either moving everything or with creating an entirely new election for the presidential primary. Both cost money and states in this position are often hesitant or unwilling to make the jump.

So when we talk about frontloading, we are often talking about a state's ability to actually make the move. Those states with separate presidential and state/local primaries have a much easier job than those states where laws exist wedding the two primary types together. Indiana falls into this category. Once a state shows the willingness to move though, subsequent moves are all the easier to push through later (if need be). Maryland is a good example here. The state requires their primaries during a presidential election year to all be held at the same time. The state had already made the move to hold its presidential (and all others) on the traditional Super Tuesday (the first Tuesday in March) and when Super Tuesday moved up a month to the first Tuesday in February, the Maryland legislature had little trouble in inching its primaries up to maintain its position. Though, I should note that the legislature opted to move the primaries to the week after Super Tuesday (the second Tuesday in February).

Friday, November 9, 2007

Still no word out of the Granite State, but there is other news

As New Hampshire continues to play the waiting game as far as when the state plans on scheduling its 2008 (2007?) presidential primary, some other things of note have surfaced.

The Rhode Island Flip-Flop
Who said flip-floppery was the sole domain of junior senators from Massachusetts? Late last week in a session to reexamine vetoed bills (and other bills not passed during the regular session), the Rhode Island General Assembly initially indicated that it would not take up the bill (S1152 - To see the actions taken on the bill search for "1152" here.) moving the state's 2008 presidential primary from the first Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in February. Later on October 30, that decision was reversed and the Democratic-controlled Assembly, not only took up the measure, but passed it when the special session continued on Halloween. However, Republican governor, Donald Carcieri, decided four days later to veto the bill citing difficulties in administering an earlier election.

Michigan in Trouble
And if you thought Michigan going on January 15 was a done deal, hold tight. First, a group of journalists and political consultants filed a lawsuit in county circuit court claiming that the new Michigan primary law was unconstitutional. The new law requires voters to identify themselves and which party ballot they would prefer. The resulting list of voters, according to the law, would then belong exclusively to the two state parties. At dispute is that private entities (the two state parties) have exclusive access to public information (voter lists). The lower court judge then sided with the plaintiff (This link the Ballot Access News has a nice comment from New Hampshire state legislator and Bill Gardner confidante, Jim Splaine.), nullifying the law. Understandably this triggered a scramble within the Michigan legislature. A bill rectifying the problems cited in the lawsuit passed the Michigan Senate 26-9, but Democrats refused to support a motion granting the measure immediate effect. As a result the changes would not have gone through until March, well after the January 15 primary date set forth in the unconstitutional law and now the bill to fix it. So what does all of this mean? Well, not too much really. The initial law has a cut off point of November 16 for the two state parties to decide if they will even use the primary on January 15. The Michigan GOP seems to be firmly set on Jan. 15, but the Democrats (who traditionally use a caucus as their means of allocating delegates) are still undecided as to when they will go and the method they will use. All this unpredictability does it push back the time when New Hampshire will announce and ultimately go. The longer this goes on though, the less likely a Dec. 11 New Hampshire primary is.

Massachusetts to Move?
From the looks of it, Massachusetts may be the latest to add its name to the February 5 juggernaut (see also Ballot Access News). The legislature has until the end of the session (Nov. 21) to get a bill passed moving the 2008 presidential primary from the first Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in February. Democratic governor, Deval Patrick has signaled that he would support such a bill if it appeared on his desk for signature.

Where will New Hampshire end up?
No one really knows. Correction: one person knows. New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner. And he'll only say that the decision will be made sometime during November.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Jan. 3 for Iowa Democrats too

CQPolitics is reporting that yesterday the central committee of the Iowa Democratic Party chose January 3, 2008 as the date for the party's caucuses.

It is now up to New Hampshire secretary of state, Bill Gardner, to finalize the calendar for the 2008 presidential nomination cycle. That decision is supposed to come sometime during the month of November. The ace up the secretary's sleeve is the threat to move the state's primaries to December 11, 2007, tearing down the precedent that delegate selection events should take place in the same year as the general election. Michigan senator, Carl Levin, has issued a counter-threat to have Michigan go on the same date as New Hampshire if the Granite State opts for a date earlier than when Michigan is currently positioned on January 15. This seems like a move to almost dare New Hampshire to move to December 11; a move that would undoubtedly spur talks of reforming the system of determining which states go first or which states go when. New Hampshire and Iowa have the most to lose in that scenario.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Iowa GOP to Jan. 3...for now

The Iowa Republican party acted on Tuesday, October 16, to move the party's 2008 presidential caucuses to January 3. The move (from January 14) once again restores, at least for now, one of Iowa's parties to the traditional first in the nation position. As The Caucus blog indicated in a post yesterday though, the party was set to discuss the "pros and cons" of a January 3 or 5 date for the GOP caucuses, with a lean toward the 3rd. I'm a bit surprised to hear that Iowa Republicans went ahead and made the move, especially since there are rumors swirling that New Hampshire may make the leap in to 2007 with a December 11 primary (for both parties).

As the calendar stands now:
Jan. 3: Iowa GOP caucuses
Jan. 5: Wyoming GOP caucuses
Jan. 14: Iowa Dems caucuses
Jan. 15: Michigan primary
Jan. 19: Nevada caucuses, South Carolina primary
Jan. 22: New Hampshire primary
Jan. 29: Florida primary
Feb. 5: Super Tuesday

Now let's play Fact or Fiction:
  • Fiction: Iowa Dems on January 14. I would be surprised if the Iowa Democrats do not end up on the same date as the state GOP, whenever that is (December 3 or January 3).
  • Fiction: New Hampshire on January 22. New Hampshire will either go on January 8 or December 11.
  • Fact: Wyoming GOP, South Carolina, Florida and Michigan are more than likely set. Never say never, though, when it comes to 2008 presidential primary/caucus dates.
  • Fact: Nevada may or may not move from January 19 to January 12. It is under consideration.
  • Fact: Both parties' nominations will be decided on February 5.
The pool of early states will stay the same, but the order has yet to be solidified. The ball is in New Hampshire's (or Secretary of State Bill Gardner's) court now. And that decision is suppose to come sometime next month.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Move of all Moves

January 22 never was going to be the date of the New Hampshire presidential primary in 2008; at least not after states like Florida, and to a greater extent, Michigan began encroaching on the state's first in the nation turf. Recently the speculation then has centered on New Hampshire going on January 8, 2008. Secretary of State, Bill Gardner, said recently that the state would hold its 2008 primary at least two weeks earlier than the fourth Tuesday in January date used during the 2004 race. And the second Tuesday in January 2008 is January 8.

This week however, Gardner and those around him, hinted that another date is being considered: December 11. That's the bombshell that has been out there since everyone began crowding New Hampshire and Iowa; a move that both states were hoping to avoid, but became almost inevitable following Michigan's move to January 15.

So, New Hampshire's legislature ceded the decision to place the primary date to the Secretary of State in 1975, freeing the state to move the presidential primary date with the least amount of resistance. If Michigan were to react, another special session of the state legislature would have to be convened to get the move passed. There was Democratic resistance within the legislature over the move to January 15 and any move to an even earlier date, would surely face greater scrutiny than its predecessor. In other words, Michigan and New Hampshire are not on a level playing field in this regard.

Now let the chain reaction commence. If New Hampshire is on December 11, will Iowa move to December 3, the traditional eight days ahead of the New Hampshire primary? Or will the Democratic and Republican parties in Iowa be content to be the first caucus in the nation, and not THE first contest overall? If past experience tells us anything, it is that Iowa will lean toward the former. If either or both moves come to pass, then I will have been off by a week in my guess (IA on Dec. 10 and NH on Dec. 18). But earlier is earlier, I suppose, at least in the minds of New Hampshirites and Iowans.

If this happens, the candidates had better get cracking because December 11 is less than two months away.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Who Thought the Ride was Over?

After a quiet month on the frontloading front, it looks like the efforts are set to begin anew. And no, not for 2012. The dust has settled on the Florida and Michigan moves, but that has only triggered action on the part of the four states granted exemptions by the Democratic National Committee. Sure, Iowa and New Hampshire were always going to wait it out and set their dates at the last possible moment (Note: Both national parties' deadlines to set primary and caucus dates passed last month.), but now Nevada and South Carolina are taking a "Hey, we're exempt too" approach. "And since we're exempt, you wouldn't mind if we go ahead and move up a week or so, would you?"

With Florida smack dab on top of them on January 29, South Carolina Democrats now want the Democratic primary in the state to coincide with the Republican primary on January 19 according to The Caucus blog on the New York Times web site. The difference here is that South Carolina Democrats are not going it alone like Florida and Michigan before them. With the exemption from the national party still in place, they are going through the DNC to get the move on the books.

This line of thought seems to be prevailing further west in Nevada as well. Members of both state parties are discussing a move to January 12 (from January 19 where South Carolina is setting up shop) for both caucuses. The LA Times Top of the Ticket blog is reporting that such a move has been and is being discussed within the state and that party leaders there are waiting on Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina to move first. Waiting on South Carolina is one thing, but with this being the first high-profile caucus ever in Nevada, organizing this thing and playing a game of chicken with the pros from Iowa and New Hampshire is a different can of worms entirely.

And if those two potential moves were not enough, Iowa Republicans are eyeing January 3 as a possible spot for the caucuses there. The Caucus reports that that date is the recommendation of the state GOP's central committee. Interestingly, state Democrats are considering a January 5 caucus date; a rare date split between the two Hawkeye State parties.

What about New Hampshire, you ask? Well, word out of the Granite State is that Secretary of State Gardner has indicated that a date at least two weeks prior to the date used in 2004 is likely. For those of you scoring at home, that would be the second Tuesday in January at the latest (January 8). Regardless, the date is to be set within the next month. Thanks to Ballot Access News for that.

So here's the potential calendar as of October 8 (January dates only):
Thursday Jan. 3: Iowa GOP caucuses
Saturday Jan. 5: Iowa Dem. caucuses, Wyoming GOP caucuses
Tuesday Jan. 8: New Hampshire Dem./GOP primaries
Saturday Jan. 12: Nevada Dem./GOP caucuses
Tuesday Jan. 15: Michigan Dem./GOP primaries
Saturday Jan. 19: South Carolina Dem./GOP primaries
Tuesday Jan. 29: Florida Dem./GOP primaries

Iowa and New Hampshire might be trying to avoid moving into 2007, but it is looking pretty crowded up there at the front. Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

It is Official in Michigan and Nebraska Dems Embrace an Early Caucus

Michigan solidified its presidential primary position with Gov. Jennifer Granholm's signature on Tuesday. The Democratic governor signed SB 624 into law moving the state's 2008 presidential primary to January 15. You can read more from the AP and from CQ. This is a daring move from lawmakers and party leaders in Michigan though. With the DNC leveling its all or nothing delegate ultimatum to the Florida delegation and with the RNC not holding back either, Michigan is gambling for sure. Also not helping is the fact that the top Democratic candidates have now pledged to skip out on campaigning in any states violating the Democrats delegate selection rules. It will be an interesting showdown between Michigan/Florida and the national parties as this thing plays out. Both states appear to be taking a defiant stance.

Also, Nebraska Democrats made the news on Wednesday after deciding on abandoning delegate selection by primary. The typical late May primary has been dropped in favor of a February 9 caucus (the same day as the primary in Louisiana). The state party claims the move was made to "energize the party." Energizing by creating a contest that fosters lower turnout. I know I'd be energized if I was a Nebraska Democrat. Jokes aside however, both Nebraska and Louisiana would be the first in line to be important should the de facto national primary on February 5 produce muddled results.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Tomorrow is Decision Day in the Michigan House

According to The Detroit News, Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D-MI) today said that action would be taken on Thursday to get the legislation (SB 624) that would move the state's 2008 presidential primary to January 15 out of the Ethics and Elections Committee. The bill has been stuck in that committee since last week when the Senate passed it. Chairman Marc Corriveau, who is a Democrat, opposes the measure and has attempted to bottle up the bill in the committee. House Speaker Andy Dillon (D) however, has indicated to the governor that a vote (or votes) will take place tomorrow to get the bill out of committee where it can then be voted on by the entire chamber. The chamber is split 58-52 in favor of the Democrats, and with Republicans supporting the move, gaining a majority on this bill should not be an insurmountable task. That would then send the legislation to a supportive governor.

Wyoming GOP Stakes Its Claim

After earlier this year voting to hold their nomination conventions on the same day as the New Hampshire primary (whenever that was), the Wyoming Republican Party reconsidered. With New Hampshire tentatively (And when I say tentatively, I mean this is the latest possible date on which New Hampshire will hold its primary.) slotted in on January 8, this moved Wyoming as well. Apparently that wasn't early enough for Wyoming Republicans. Bent on getting hard core Republican candidates like Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani to plow through feet-deep snow drifts in the lead up to delegate-binding county conventions, the Wyoming GOP moved those conventions up to January 5. No, not February 5.

January 5.

Snow drifts aside, this is the earliest contest with a set date at this time. And because, as I stated earlier today, Republican National Committee rules exempt caucuses and conventions from frontloading sanctions, this is all fine. Granted not all of the state's delegates are up for grabs, but nearly half of the state's 28 delegates will be at stake on that day.

So take that Michigan.

Correction: RNC rules exempt states that do not allocate delegates in the first step of their process. Iowa and Nevada qualify for that exemption, but Wyoming does not.

Minnesota Democrats Join Feb. 5

Joining their GOP counterparts, Minnesota Democrats announced on Tuesday that they would move their 2008 presidential caucus to February 5. Given that this was already in their delegate selection plan as of July 21, I thought the move from March 4 was already a done deal. You can read more about the move here and here. Thanks to Ballot Access News and Political Wire for the heads up on the USA Today blog.

Now the RNC is Getting in on the Act

Not content to let the Democratic National Committee alone attempt to deal with the "problem" of frontloading, the Republican National Committee on Tuesday made clear that it too would enforce its rules on delegate selection. What does that mean and who is affected? According to the rules (see my earlier post), states holding presidential primaries during the 2008 cycle, must do so between February 5 and the first Tuesday in June (June 3, 2008). In case you hadn't noticed, no one seems to be queuing on the back end. So which states are under fire from the GOP for attacking the front end? Florida, already under scrutiny from national Democrats for the state's proposed plan to hold a primary on January 29, is joined by South Carolina, Michigan and, believe it or not, New Hampshire.

Those four states face losing half of their delegates to the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis next summer for violating the window rule. Florida, South Carolina and Michigan make sense. But why sanction New Hampshire? And why now? And come to think of it, why not Iowa? Iowa and Nevada are exempt from penalties because both states are holding non-binding caucuses and not primaries.

UPDATE (8-30-07):
After checking the Republican delegate selection rules again, caucuses and conventions are mentioned by name; not just primaries. However, Nevada and Iowa are non-binding contests which exempts them from national GOP scrutiny. Wyoming, on the other hand, is vulnerable to sanction because the plan recently decided upon there would award 12 of the state's 28 delegates during that first step on January 5.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

February 5 Adds Montana GOP Caucus

The Montana Republican Party voted yesterday to break with tradition (What else is new this cycle?), spurning the state's June primary date to adopt a caucus for allocating delegates to next September's GOP Convention in Minneapolis, MN. The GOP caucus in Montana joins caucuses in Alaska, Colorado (D), Minnesota (R), and North Dakota as well as primaries in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico (D), New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah on February 5. That now brings the total to 20 contests on that day.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Michigan Expedites the Process

I'm surprised that it took the state legislature in Michigan until Wednesday to act on this, but the Senate today amended the language concerning the date of the state's 2008 presidential primary in SB 624. A bill that originally sought to change the date from February 26 to January 29 now seeks to bump the date up an additional two weeks to January 15. The Senate then passed the bill by a vote of 21 - 17 and transmitted it to the House where it already received its first reading. Gov. Jennifer Granholm has already indicated that she would sign the bill if it made it through the legislature.

Iowa and New Hampshire have the next move.