Showing posts with label conventions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label conventions. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee Moves Toward Taking the National Convention Virtual

The Democratic National Committee Rules and Bylaws Committee (RBC) met via conference call on Tuesday, May 12 to consider a number of issues raised by coronavirus pandemic.

Most of the actions taken had been telegraphed before the meeting, but there remained some interesting questions brought up during the meeting in response to some of the agenda items. The easiest hurdles to clear came from state parties' reactions to the public health crisis and its impact on the electoral and delegate selection processes there.

Several states have moved since mid-March to points on the primary calendar beyond what is allowed under DNC rules. Decision makers in Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey and New York all settled on dates beyond the June 9 cut off established in the rules.1 And all of those states but Connecticut had waiver requests before the RBC today. All were unanimously approved.

Beyond that thumbs up on the state-level changes before them today, RBC co-chair, Jim Roosevelt, also revealed that the delegate apportionment to states would remain the same. States will not receive any further bonus delegates for moves to later dates on the calendar, and as of now, the above states either have received waivers that allows them to skirt any penalties from rules violations or are in discussions with the RBC about their respective situations. Connecticut Democrats fall into the latter category and are between a rock and a hard place with the August 11 primary date state government decision makers landed on falling just a few days before the convention is set to start. That is another state party that will eventually have to bring delegate selection plan changes before the RBC in the near future. Puerto Rico Democrats face the same dilemma. The primary in the US territory was indefinitely postponed in April but the party is eyeing a July 5 or 12 primary date that would also require a waiver from the RBC.

But the bigger items on the RBC's agenda dealt with the national convention. The committee unanimously passed resolutions to allow state parties to use virtual means to complete their delegate selection processes as long as that did not include primaries or precinct caucuses. Then, however, the body moved on to a more encompassing resolution on convention procedure. There were a couple of main aims that the the RBC was targeting. First, given the public health crisis, the RBC members were concerned with the safety of delegates able to attend the convention in Milwaukee but also the citizens of the city as well. But second, the committee also sought to conduct the business of the convention under the circumstances that the coronavirus has created. Both meant that the RBC had to make changes to the rules where there is no contingency for such conditions.

The resolution attempts to address those twin issues. Procedurally, it allows the convention Rules and Credentials Committees to be the sole arbiters of their respective reports. They will not go before the full convention unless there is a minority report issued as well. That provision did raise some concerns with several members of the committee who were concerned about that (minority report) outlet and what would constitute a passing vote in the committee or on the floor. Would it be a simple majority of those present or a majority of all of the total number of delegates? The distinction matters, especially in the context of a convention that may see some delegates in person in an arena in Milwaukee and some at home. The tentative conclusion was that at past conventions, it had been the simple majority.

And while all of that may get too far into the weeds of convention process, it does matter. More broadly, the resolution also granted the DNC the flexibility to allow the participation of some delegates from afar.

That measure unanimously passed the RBC but has to go before the full DNC for approval before it takes effect.

1 New York Democrats are in limbo to some extent with their primary. The decision to reinstate the June 23 Democratic presidential primary in the Empire state is being appealed to the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and any changes made in the wake of that decision could push the New York Democratic Party back before the RBC in the coming days if any cancelation forces further changes to the amended delegate selection plan.

Friday, May 8, 2020

How do you stage a convention in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic?

Jon Ward and Brittany Shepherd have the story at Yahoo News.

It will take some rules changes on the Democratic side to facilitate anything other than a traditional convention. But Republicans already have language in place in Rule 37(e) of their rules covering the scenario where the party is "unable to conduct its business either within the convention site or within the convention city." It defers to the Republican National Committee to develop an alternative method for handling the roll call votes for the presidential and vice presidential nominations.

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Real Import of Rule 40 in 2016

One of the more controversial rules changes that came out of the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa was the change to Rule 40. This is basically the guide to getting a candidate's name placed in nomination; to be able to take part in the roll call vote. Over the years the thresholds have gradually increased. In 2012, a candidate had to control a plurality of a delegation from at least five states in order to be nominated. But that is not a bar that had been in place forever. And again, it was certainly a barrier that increased to that level over time.

In Tampa in 2012, however, the thought process was a bit different than it is today. There and then, the rules changes were designed with one thing in mind: protecting President Romney in a 2016 bid at re-nomination. As I told Matt Viser a couple of weeks ago, few were sitting around in the Rules Committee meeting the week before the convention or later in the convention room itself thinking about the possibility of 15 candidates vying for the 2016 nomination. The rules that Republican lawyer, Ben Ginsberg pushed through the Rules Committee and were ultimately adopted at the convention protected hypothetical future President Romney in several ways, but one of them was increasing the thresholds a candidate had to meet to have their name placed in nomination at the convention.

The changes?

Instead of the five states a candidate had to win in 2012, a candidate had to win at least eight in 2016. And adding to that, a candidate could no longer skirt by with just plurality control of the the delegation. The rules adopted in Tampa for 2016 upped that to a majority. The raising of the number of states is not really of much consequence. But bumping that control threshold up from just one more delegate than your next nearest competitor to having to control half of the delegates in a state's delegation plus one is a potentially significant change. The impact of the change is minimized when one considers a scenario in which a President Romney is facing off against just one likely fringe foe. Yet, when one removes a hypothetical sitting president and inserts more than 10 candidates with no frontrunner/a nominal frontrunner/an unproven outsider frontrunner, then that change to Rule 40 really seems to start to matter.

This is exactly the type of unintended consequences a party gets when it makes plans for a nomination and convention four years ahead of time. Things change and in ways that are difficult to plan for so far out.

Well, what do these changes portend for 2016? It is pretty ominous, right? And that is seemingly even more true given a wild and unpredictable field of candidates.

Not really.

As David Byler explains at Real Clear Politics, Rule 40 is basically a placeholder. It was among the series of convention rules that the Republican National Convention (via the adopted Rules Committee package) extended to the next cycle with some tweaks as it routinely does without much notice every four years. And by "convention rules", FHQ means the rules that are intended to govern the next convention (Rules 26-42). Those are distinct from what one might call "primary rules" -- Rules 13-25 -- in one important respect: The convention rules cannot be altered between conventions (see Rule 12), but the primary rules can.

That is why we have seen the cleaning up of Rule 16(a)(2) and the reinsertion of shall for may resurrecting the proportionality requirement in Rule 16(c)(2) among other changes.

But Rule 40 and the other convention rules have been off limits, static since Tampa. The routine is that these convention rules stay the same. One convention passes them on to another and that next convention adopts them as the procedures for governing itself with no problems. Ultimately though, the convention of delegates has the final say so in that instance. While it is customary for one convention to adopt the rules passed on to it by a previous convention it does not have to. Basically, a convention is charged with adopting the rules that will govern itself. The RNC has streamlined this process, as described above, but the convention can take it off that track if necessary.

That is where the discussion of Rule 40 stands now for the 2016 cycle. Again, with a wide open race and a robust field of candidates, the requirements to place a candidates name in nomination at the Cleveland convention appear rather steep. Can a candidate reach majority control of delegations from multiple states? Can multiple candidates get there? Will none get there?

We do not have answers to those questions at this point and may not until well after voting has begun in February. But all the while, the RNC -- and ultimately the convention itself -- could have some say in this matter.

...if it has to.

One of the shortcomings of Byler's otherwise excellent piece at RCP is that it does not consider the possibility that Rule 40 works as intended; that only one candidate gets majority control of delegations from at least eight states and receives a majority of the 2470+ delegates available in the Republican presidential nomination race.

And there is no defined point in time in which it will be clear that Rule 40 is working (or not). Until then, Rule 40 and the thresholds for nomination contained therein matter. It is a goal for which all the viable campaigns are shooting. There a reason Ted Cruz's campaign (among others) has been involved in Guam. It counts as one of those eight states. The campaigns, then, are operating as if the provisions of Rule 40 are a thing; that it matters. And indeed it does. Getting to majority control of eight states is still a goal for the campaigns until it is not.

So, if Rule 40 operates as envisioned, then there is no reason for the convention to change it. In the meantime, though, between now and the convention, the rule puts in place a marker that the campaigns must hit and are in fact striving for. That is different than saying Rule 40 "won't affect the primary outcome".

It won't affect the outcome if it ends up standing in the way of the Cleveland convention completing part of its task: nominating a presidential candidate. If Rule 40 does serve as an impediment to that task, then it will be altered. But until it is clear that Rule 40 is a problem -- that the primary process has produced an inconclusive result in part because of the requirements in the rule -- it matters.

That does leave us with a couple of important secondary questions.

First, does the RNC signaling that Rule 40 is a placeholder now -- in December 2015 -- change how the campaigns approach the process? We will not begin getting an answer to this question until votes start coming in and delegates are allocated. It is at that point that the campaigns will start attempting to frame what they have won and what that means. In other words, do the campaigns keep us updated on the progress they are making toward meeting the thresholds laid out in Rule 40 -- the process of being placed in nomination?

Second, if -- and it is still an IF, folks -- Rule 40 is determined to be problematic during the course of primary season (if an inconclusive result is seemingly almost assured), then how does the Convention Rules Committee alter it? Byler addresses at the end of his piece and FHQ disagrees with him. As I said above and as I told Ben Jacobs and Walter Shapiro via Twitter last Thursday when this whole brokered contested convention discussion broke open anew, the number of states required under Rule 40 is not the issue. The biggest, most problematic change was the raising of the control threshold from a simple plurality to a majority. The convention may attempt to game things some with the number of states, but reverting to the former plurality requirement is more likely to solve a whole lot of the potential problems with the Rule 40 requirements.

But first thing's first: Let's see if, in fact, Rule 40 is going to be a problem once votes are being cast.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Candidates Don't Always Choose the Delegates

In fact, that scenario may be exception rather than rule in the Republican presidential nomination process.

FHQ says this in response to a section in an otherwise fantastic piece by Jonathan Bernstein on the brokered deadlocked convention chatter that has cropped up over the last week or so. Look, Jon and I are 100% on the same page on the overarching premise he presents: The winnowing mechanism in the party-adapted, post-reform era of presidential nominations is strong.1 It works. Candidates drop out or withdraw from a race when the writing is on the wall. That writing tends to come in the form of a combination of not winning contests/delegates and/or the financial backing of donors drying up.2

But while we tend to almost always agree on the theoretical end, we sometimes part ways on process. Such is my wont, rules nag that FHQ is. Here is what I take issue with:
This has all changed. Delegates don’t represent state parties at all anymore. Instead, they are chosen by the candidates, who have an incentive to recruit the most gung-ho loyalists they can. Or, sometimes, they’ll use the delegate slots as an inducement (or a reward) to persuade important party actors -- the people who hold sway over the nomination process -- to join them.
Candidates having control over who fills delegate slots is a Democratic Party practice. The DNC ushered in the post-reform era and more or less dragged the RNC into it in the process. To comply with the rules of the new nomination system, the states -- increasingly state governments as primaries proliferated -- passed laws to govern the new processes on the state level. Those laws affected not only Democrats but Republicans as well.

That dynamic has had something of a ripple effect throughout the post-reform era. Democrats have tended to be the ones reforming the process -- they were the party out of the White House for the early portion of the period -- and have been much more centralized in their response; mandating proportionality, requiring certain diversity quotas, etc. Part of the centralization on the Democratic side is that the candidates basically have the right to review their delegates. The national party gives them the ability to weed out a Bernie Sanders supporter in a Hillary Clinton allocated delegate slot for example.

By contrast, the Republican Party has tended to be much more decentralized in its approach to the delegate selection/allocation process. The mantra had, up until the last couple of cycles, been let the states figure it out. It, in that instance, means an array of things: caucuses or primary, proportional or winner-take-all allocation formulas, etc. But that principle also applied and still applies to delegate selection, or perhaps more particularly to candidates picking and choosing their delegates. In states where the law requires the filing of delegates or delegate slates, candidates have some control. Think loophole primary states like Illinois, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, where delegates are listed on the ballot and directly elected. Ohio is another example. Remember, Rick Santorum did not have a full slate of delegates in a number of Ohio districts that the former Pennsylvania senator actually ended up winning in the primary.

The candidates have more control in those types of states than they and their campaigns have in others. In other states, the delegate selection process is completely different from the delegate allocation process. The latter awards slots to candidates based on the results of a primary or caucus.  But the identity of who fills those slots occurs in the (sometimes, especially in primary states) separate delegate selection process (usually through the election year caucus/convention system). This is how Ron Paul-aligned delegates made it to the convention in Mitt Romney slots in 2012.

And this happened in 2012 in more than just those non-binding caucuses that have been eliminated by the RNC for the 2016 cycle.3 Though it did not ultimately end well for Paul delegates, they were able to overrun the Massachusetts Republican delegate selection process and fill Romney delegate slots temporarily. It was only because Romney campaign surrogates in the Massachusetts Republican Party required an affidavit of those delegates pledging to support Romney -- an action those delegates refused -- that there were Romney delegates from Massachusetts at the national convention in Tampa.

That reality -- that candidates do not have full control over the delegate selection process -- presents something of a problem in this deadlocked convention scenario. Though it should be pointed out how that Massachusetts case ended. Romney sent delegates to the convention. But that was not because Romney and his campaign had chosen the delegates. Rather, it was a function of Romney having surrogates in positions of power within the Massachusetts Republican Party. It is different, but the outcome was the same.

The RNC recognizes this as a problem. The party attempted to close that loophole among the many others that Ron Paul delegates and supporters railed against at the convention in 2012 and continue to rail against even now. The original change to Rule 15(b) -- now Rule 16(a)(2) -- gave candidates the ability to "pre-certify" or approve delegates in order for those delegates to be certified by the RNC for the convention. But that was one of the Ginsberg rules that did not make it out of Tampa.4 Instead, the national party -- the RNC -- now has all the power (a fact that is consistent with Bernstein's point about parties doing what they can to avoid the deadlocked convention scenario or any sticky situation for that matter). Delegates are now bound to candidates based on the earliest, statewide election, and if those delegates, regardless of what preference they hold, fail to reflect the binding in their convention vote, then the vote will be recorded as if they had voted the binding.

But there are some questions about how that works in the scenario where no candidate has a majority of the delegates heading into the convention. That is a matter that FHQ has promised some folks on Twitter that I would address. ...tomorrow.

The bottom line: In the Republican process, the candidates do not necessarily choose the delegates, at least not across the board as is the case on the Democratic side. There is variation across state on the issue of how much control the candidate and their campaigns have over the delegate selection process.

There is one other bit of nuance that FHQ would add to one of the footnotes in Bernstein's piece. I don't want to belabor this. It is a footnote, after all and I have gone on for some time already. Usually when I hit four footnotes of my own, that is a telltale sign that it has been a long post. Yet, let's look at Jon's point about the differences between the two parties on delegate allocation rules:
It’s unlikely Cruz and Paul could win that many delegates (especially that many each) because Republican rules don’t produce many delegates for losing candidates in most states. And because Republicans don't have the proportional representation rules that Democrats insist on, even a close contest between two leading candidates is unlikely to leave them with (almost) equal delegate hauls.
On not producing many delegates for losing candidates.
That depends. It is certainly true in the case of truly winner-take-all states like Florida. The number of winner-take-all states is pretty limited and confined to the area of the calendar after March 14 when it is less likely to matter (i.e.: post-winnowing). However, outside of that handful of truly winner-take-all states there is some variation in terms of how able losing candidates are to win delegates. It depends first on how many candidates are on the ballot and active/viable. But being awarded delegates also depends on the thresholds of the vote that state party bylaws or state laws require a candidate to win. The RNC allows states to set that as high as 20%, but does not require states to have any threshold. Some states do (Alabama and Mississippi), some states don't (Alaska and Hawaii). This tends only to be a minor point. FHQ retrospectively looked at some of these factors in the context of 2012 and the thresholds only really affected things at the margins.

On proportional representation rules.
Well, here's the thing: What the RNC has in place for 2016 in terms of the proportionality requirement (for all states with contests from March 1-14) is now a lot like the DNC proportionality mandate for all states. That is part of the RNC tightening its definition of proportionality. Basically, it requires either a proportional allocation of all delegates based on the statewide result or the proportional allocation of at-large delegates based on the statewide vote and the proportional allocation of congressional district delegates based on the result within the congressional district. The only real differences between parties are that...

1) The DNC requires a 15% threshold for anyone to receive delegates (Rule 13.B) while the RNC only suggests states maintain such thresholds.


2) The DNC does not treat each district the same with respect to how many delegates are apportioned it. While the RNC has three delegates per district, the DNC allows for those numbers to vary based on how loyally Democratic the district has been in past elections. For primaries and caucuses in that two week proportionality window in early March, then, those Republican delegate hauls between candidates may be closer than they otherwise would have been during past cycles.

1 By "party-adapted" FHQ means the post-reform period after the national parties (and the states and candidates for that matter) had been through a round or two in the new system and had learned the ropes. 1980 onward is a good way of thinking about this. Democrats had used the new system twice (1972, 1976) and the Republicans had been through it once (1976).

2 I know, I know: super PACS! FHQ is still not really convinced that super PACs are really going to change any of the established dynamics of the nomination process. It may mean more money floating around out there, but super PAC financial backers are going to be guided by the same sorts of constraints that campaign funders have always faced. That constraint can be summed up in one question: Do I keep giving to a candidate/campaign that is not going to win the nomination? This is kind of the same principle that guides the candidates as well as Bernstein points out.

3 That move offers some evidence that the RNC can behave in a centralized, top-down manner when it perceives a need to do so.

4 Washington, DC national committeeman, Ben Ginsberg, was the Romney campaigns man behind the rules changes in Tampa that tightened the RNC grip on nomination process. a way that drew the ire of some within the party.

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Earlier Convention Forcing South Dakota to Push Presidential Primary Up?

Bob Mercer, reporter with Aberdeen American News, raises the question.

First of all, the answer seems to be no. Mr. Mercer details well the history of South Dakota legislators moving the presidential primary in the Mount Rushmore state up to the tail end of February (from June) for the 1988 cycle and maintaining that position through 1996. The motivation for the February move, as it always seems to be, was to garner more attention for South Dakota and South Dakota issues. The problem was that the earlier primary was not an effective draw to those candidates actually seeking the nominations. That precipitated a return to June and consolidated presidential and other primaries. From 2000 onward, South Dakota has been lumped in with a small group of states at the very end of the primary calendar.

That did not mean, however, that South Dakota has not revisited the idea of an earlier presidential primary in the time since. Like a great many states in the lead up to the competitive -- on both sides -- 2008 primaries, South Dakota considered legislation to shift the presidential primary to an earlier date on the calendar. Bills met resistance in the legislature and died in both 2006 and 2007, as Mr. Mercer describes.

The 2016 presidential cycle offers, perhaps, a new wrinkle to the date-setting calculus in the later states on the calendar. That decision-making process is typically leave well enough alone if not non-existent. States at the end of the process tend to have consolidated primaries and often find the cost savings associated with one contest difficult to give up. That is no different in South Dakota.

What is different for the 2016 cycle is the push from the national parties to schedule earlier national conventions.1 But the question Mr. Mercer poses from the South Dakota perspective is different now that the two major parties have scheduled July conventions than it was when the RNC was considering a June convention. A June convention really would have exerted some pressure on June primary states to consider earlier contests. That pressure -- mostly from the RNC side -- would have come in the form of a kind of backwards delegate selection process. For the logistics to work -- convention credentialing of delegates, etc. -- delegates would have to be selected, presumably via a caucuses/convention process, before the individual slots would be allocated to particular candidates based on the primary results.2 That can make the process feel more top-down than bottom-up to rank-and-file members of a party/primary voters.

But with June off the table and two July conventions, this appears to be less of an issue for the South Dakotas and Montanas and Californias of the process, all the way at the end of the primary calendar. July conventions are not anything new. In fact, July conventions for the party out of the White House were the norm as recently as 2004. Sure, the Republican National Convention is the earliest since 1980, but there were a number of contests on that first Tuesday in June (an equivalent amount of time, then as in 2016) ahead of the convention.

Will South Dakota move? Indications at the state legislative level seem to suggest no according to Mr. Mercer. The legislators that sponsored bill during the 2008 cycle are not actively pushing legislation and do not foresee any push. Beyond that, there is not any added pressure from the national parties. The conventions will be earlier in 2016, but not in June; a time that would really have forced the primary movement issue in South Dakota and other states.

1 The Republican National Committee was responsible for the majority of this push, considering June and July convention times before settling on a convention in Cleveland during the week of July 18, 2016. In a reactive move, the Democratic National Committee then set the date of their 2016 convention for a week later in a location yet to be determined.

2 This sounds worse than it probably would be in practice. The reversing of the selection and allocation processes would only be consequential (controversial) if a nomination race was still competitive at that late point in the calendar. The odds are against that, however.

Recent Posts:
Pair of Bills Propose Earlier Presidential Primary in Connecticut

Companion Bills Introduced to Move Mississippi Presidential Primary into SEC Primary Position

Primary Movement, 2015 v. 2011

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Saturday, August 17, 2013

June Conventions?

Why does this keep coming up? 

...with no details about how a June convention is even logistically possible in the context of a primary calendar that stretches into that month?

The draws of an early convention are obvious. Candidates, nay, presumptive nominees, can make the financial transition to the general election warchest. That can be a big deal for said nominee following what may be a moderately to very difficult nomination race that has run deep into the well of primary phase money. This makes sense.

But the drawbacks -- or more appropriately the political and structural impediments -- to shifting up a convention to that early a point are quite onerous. Again, recall that the Republican autopsy of the 2012 election and the primary process -- the Growth and Opportunity Project Report -- mentioned that a nominee needs "an estimated 60-90 days to prepare for the Convention". That is, there should be 60-90 days between the conclusion of the delegate selection process and any subsequent national convention. Even a late June convention means that delegate selection will have had to run its course in all states two to three months in advance. In the best case -- 60 day -- scenario, that's some time in April.

As the autopsy's convention point goes on:
"If the Convention were to be held in July, the last primary would need to be held no later than May 15. If the Convention were to be held in late June, the final primary would need to be held no later than April 30. Moving primaries up will require states and state parties to cooperate."
FHQ is less concerned with those date thresholds, but that last statement is noteworthy. Moving primaries up will require states and state parties to cooperate. Does that mean the same states and state parties that have cooperated in the post-reform era in not moving up to non-compliant dates on the front end of the calendar?

Actually it does not. The rogue states have been the same cast of characters for quite a while. By now, regular readers here can reel them off from memory quite quickly. And Arizona, Delaware, Florida, and Michigan are not really the ones the RNC needs to worry about. They are already compliant with not being in that April to June window that would be problematic for a June convention.

No, the states that litter the latter part of the primary calendar are a different lot and offer a different set of issues.

...all while potentially facing the same sort of penalties that have dogged the rogue states challenging the early end of the calendar.

What sorts of issues?

For starters, there are partisan concerns. California and New Jersey -- two states that dropped early and separate presidential primaries in favor of later (June) consolidated primaries in 2012 -- strike FHQ as states not necessarily willing to budge on the move in the future. That may or may not have anything to do with the inertia of making yet another change, but it will certainly have something to do with which party is in control of the date-setting apparatus in those states. In the Golden state, Democrats maintain unified control of the legislature and the governor's mansion and will not shift the date unless there is some clear benefit to the Democratic Party or one or more of the potential Democratic candidates.1 An RNC directive will not do much to move that needle. A similar DNC measure may affect some change in California and other Democratic controlled states at the back of the calendar queue. Granted, Democrats are not necessarily high on the idea of a June convention. Folks FHQ has chatted with in the DNC are willing to go along an earlier convention, but not as early as June.

Those sorts of partisan divisions -- or lack of unified control -- now exist not only in California and New Jersey but in New Mexico, Montana, Arkansas, West Virginia, Oregon and Kentucky among the May and June states alone. That could be problematic if the end goal for the RNC is a June primary.

But let's assume for a moment that those states look more like, say, South Dakota after midterm or state elections in 2014 or 2015. That is, they are controlled by Republicans. That rids the national party of a political problem but does not erase a very real structural one. Revisit that California/New Jersey discussion above. The issues in those states were a combination of partisan and structural. Beyond the partisan complications that we have assumed away in this thought experiment, there is some benefit to pretty much every state at the end of the calendar having consolidated primaries -- combined presidential, state and local primaries.

Altering that structure would mean moving everything up -- presidential, state and local -- or creating and shifting up a separate presidential contest like what North Carolina did just this past week. The former is something that state legislators of all partisan stripes are not always open to. It affects their reelections whether a threat exists affecting those chances or not. The system has worked for those legislators in winning office one or more times in the past. Why change it? In other words, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The alternative is to create and fund a separate presidential primary election. Not every state requires the $100 million it takes to fund such a contest in California, but state governments are not racing to expend multiple millions of dollars in the current economic environment for these sorts of purposes. That outlook may change between now and 2015 when these date-setting decisions will be made, but don't place any wagers on that just yet. That dilemma, if it was even a dilemma, did not seem to affect the calculus in North Carolina recently. The General Assembly in the Tarheel state charged ahead with the primary change with little or no mention of the estimated $4 million price tag of a separate presidential primary.

Still, as FHQ has shown, one of the primary determinants of state movement -- or non-movement in this case -- in the post-reform era has been whether a state holds its presidential primary concurrently with the primaries for state and local offices. Those with consolidate primaries have been much less likely to move.

Given those constraints, what is the RNC to do if the end goal is a June convention? Well, it can press forward of course. But the party is very likely to find some resistance, more so from states than state parties. If that is what happens -- the RNC moves on this initiative and finds widespread state-level resistance to the idea -- the only move left at the national and state parties disposal at that point is to transition from a non-compliant consolidated and late primary to earlier and compliant caucuses.

...but that conflicts with another recommendation in the GOP Report: "discouraging conventions and caucuses for the purpose of allocating delegates to the national convention". But the caucus route may be the only one open to the RNC in a number of late states because of partisan or structural complications. However, that would mean the addition of as many as ten or eleven new caucus states; an increase of around 100%. That opens the door to a number of unintended consequences that possibly exacerbates any rift in the party or reverses the inroads made toward cooperation.

A June convention is an uphill battle. Even late July seems tough given the apparently required 60-90 day window.

1 The partisan picture is similar in New Jersey minus Democratic control of the governor's mansion. But a party potentially needs to have unified control of the legislative and executive branches to make these primary moves happen.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Do the RNC Rules Allow a VP Selection to Be Dumped by the Convention?

Sure they do.

But of course, that won't happen in Tampa. And FHQ is not suggesting that it is a possibility. Rather, this is in answer to Jonathan Bernstein's follow up to Seth Masket on the influence of party over the vice presidential selection.

First the rules:
In the 2008 Rules of the Republican Party -- the rules governing the 2012 nomination process and convention -- Rule 40 covers nominations. Yes, the same Rule 40 that came up back in March and was the basis for all the talk about Ron Paul controlling a plurality of delegates in at least five states. The same is true for vice presidential nominations, but the procedure there is less regulated than for presidential nominations. By that I mean that delegates are not bound on the vice presidential roll call votes in the same way that they are on presidential roll call votes for nomination (...something Jon Ward covers here). I am not suggesting that there will be any Ron Paul delegate mischief or any other efforts to second guess Romney and oust Paul Ryan from the ticket in Tampa. Instead, the point is to show that it is possible.

Now the implications:
Within the framework of the party -- writ large -- influencing the selection of a vice presidential nominee, this merely adds another layer. But that is certainly a layer that strengthens the party's hand. It really is not unlike a president's decision in selecting a nominee to fill a Supreme Court vacancy. There is a more than adequate supply of able jurists in the pool, but only a constrained number of them will ever be considered by any given president. There is a calculus to the decision and presidents can push the envelope -- ideologically speaking or in some other manner -- but the extent of said pushing goes only so far as the administration's perception of what/who is likely to get the requisite 60 votes in the US Senate for confirmation.

Similarly, Presumptive Nominee Romney wants/wanted to select a running mate that was palatable to members of the Republican Party. Any of the finalists -- Ryan, Portman, Pawlenty -- would have accomplished that. Additionally, there was a reason certain trial balloons failed: They weren't passable in a convention setting. FHQ has attempted to raise the issue of breaking from the script moments at the Republican convention in Tampa. Mostly that was within the context of the role of Ron Paul delegates. But the same rule applies in this case. Selecting, for example, a pro-choice running mate like Rice or Sandoval would have been vetoed -- in Bernsteinian? Berenstain? terms -- by the convention. It may not have been enough to derail the ultimate nomination of that type of candidate, but it definitely would ruin the harmonious party atmosphere with which the two national parties like to leave conventions.

The last thing any party or nominee wants is discord within the party before, during or after a convention. And that is the power of party in this particular political decision.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Santorum Has Rule #40 Problems, Too

The folks at NBC News have dug down into the 2008 Rules of the Republican Party -- the rules governing the 2012 presidential nomination process -- and have found that Rule #40 may stand in the way of Newt Gingrich having his named placed into nomination at the convention in Tampa this summer.

Here's the pertinent text of Rule 40.b:
Each candidate for nomination for President of the United States and Vice President of the United States shall demonstrate the support of a plurality of the delegates from each of five (5) or more states, severally, prior to the presentation of the name of that candidate for nomination.
Read that closely. That isn't -- as the NBC piece emphasizes -- five wins. The rule states that a candidate is required to control pluralities of the delegates in at least five states. By that metric, as of now, Rick Santorum is not really out of the woods yet either. The former Pennsylvania senator has won nine contests -- ten if you count the non-binding Missouri primary -- but only half of those states have actually allocated delegates as of March 21, 2012. Further, Santorum only has clear delegate pluralities in three of those states: Alabama, Kansas and Tennessee. In Mississippi and Oklahoma, both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are within a couple of automatic delegate endorsements of controlling a plurality of the delegation.

Now, more than likely one of a couple of scenarios is likely to play out. Either:
  1. Santorum ends up winning the plurality of delegates in Iowa, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri and North Dakota, controls those delegations and has no problems being nominated -- if it comes to that.
  2. The delegate math will have become so impossible and the pressure from within the party will have grown so high that Santorum will exit the race and delegates in those non-binding/unbound caucus states will end up supporting the inevitable nominee (Romney) anyway, seeing that there will not be a contested convention. 
Rules, rules, rules...

Recent Posts:
Race to 1144: Illinois Primary
Why Santorum's Delegate Math Isn't So Bad But the Explanation Is

On the Binding of Missouri Republican Delegates

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Northern Marianas Republicans Set for March 10 Convention

Republicans in the Northern Marianas have settled on a date for their delegate selection. The territory's Republicans will hold a convention on Saturday, March 10 for the purposes of allocating delegates to the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Of the nine delegates at stake, six will be selected at the convention. The remaining three delegates are the territory's automatic delegates.

Guam now is the only state or territory without a date on the presidential primary calendar (...that is not also mired in a dispute over congressional district boundaries affecting a presidential primary date).

Thanks to Tony Roza at The Green Papers for sharing the news.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Links (8/21/08): National Party Convention Bounces

Earlier in the week I posted a link to Thomas Holbrook's impressions of national convention bounces. He now has a projection up for how much of a bump we may see Obama gain from the Democratic convention next week.

Now Larry Sabato has his own look into the history of the bounce up on his site.

Recent Posts:
Blog Note

Back to the Future: The February Frontloading Experiment is Over

The Electoral College Map (8/20/08)