Showing posts with label endorsements. Show all posts
Showing posts with label endorsements. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Invisible Primary: Visible -- Republican Non-Endorsements

Thoughts on the invisible primary and links to the goings on of the moment as 2024 approaches...

It is early yet in the Republican presidential nomination process. There are, after all, only two major contenders -- Donald Trump and Nikki Haley -- who have entered the race and who have held elective office (at a level that has conventionally seen success in presidential contests). Each already has a handful of endorsements as well. And that is another of those invisible primary metrics -- endorsement primary -- to eye as one assesses the degree to which Trump's institutional support has declined relative to his standing four years ago (or how much better it is than it was eight years ago). FHQ has already discussed this in terms of where the former president's organizational efforts stand, but it matters for endorsements too. 

And one sees this not only in endorsements, particularly in endorsement defections from Trump, but also in non-endorsements, as in elites and elected officials refusing to endorse Trump or anyone else at this early stage of the race. Sen. Pete Ricketts (R-NE) is new to the job, having been appointed to the post following the departure of Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), so maybe the question is a natural inquiry for the Nebraska press. But the senator's response is noteworthy in that he passed on the opportunity to endorse. Then-Governor Ricketts, like many elected officials, was on Team Trump in 2020 as a campaign surrogate. But the two were at odds during the 2022 midterms both in and out of Nebraska. The president called Ricketts a RINO for supporting Governor Brian Kemp (R-GA) in his reelection bid in the Peach state, and Ricketts asked Trump not to intervene (and endorse) in the open Republican gubernatorial primary in Nebraska (advice the president refused to heed). 

And it matters for now that Ricketts also did not line up behind Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL), someone to whom members of his family have donated. Now, that may or may not hold as this race progresses (and DeSantis formally enters the contest). But the extent to which elected officials stay on the sidelines is important. Not endorsing Trump says something: that elite-level support has ebbed since 2020. But not endorsing anyone else might also suggest that those same elites cannot (or do not want to) coordinate against Trump in 2024. And that again says something about where Trump is on the 2015 or 2019 spectrum of strength in this evolving battle. These signals are important to assessing where the race stands.

This is also something that bears watching at the state party level as well. Ed Cox, the newly sworn in chair of the New York Republican Party reassumed his position atop the party and was quick to note that the NYGOP, like the national party, would remain neutral in the 2024 presidential nomination race. That is likely to be the case for state Republican parties across the country, but it is not a sure thing. That, too, tells one about the state of the Republican race and Trump's support in it. 

No, DeSantis is not in the race yet, but he continues to do the things that (prospective) presidential candidates do. This time it is a trip to New Hampshire for a big state party fundraising event.

Governor Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) continues to do things outside of the commonwealth. And every time he does, it draws presidential chatter. So it was with the latest news that Youngkin will head to Texas in April to meet with big money Republican donors. Youngkin, like all the other candidates or potential candidates not named Trump or DeSantis, is in the difficult position of having to assess his chances in a field where there is seemingly little oxygen. Youngkin can lay claim to being a Republican governor in a blue state, which is unique among the other possible aspirants. But like everyone else he has to hope for a DeSantis flop, a Trump implosion or for the Trump and DeSantis to pummel each other into oblivion such that the door is opened for someone else. And maybe one or some combination of those things happen. But the more immediate concern for Youngkin may be that he has to show those donors in Texas that he has that "fire in the belly," a marker he did not necessarily surpass with potential donors in New York recently.

Vice President Kamala Harris going to Iowa causes a raise of the eyebrow until one remembers that the Hawkeye state will not be the first state in the Democratic presidential nomination process in 2024.

On this date... 1980, Senator Bob Dole withdrew, winless, from the Republican presidential nomination race. 1988, Vice President Bush (R) and Senator Paul Simon (D) won the Illinois presidential primary. Simon kept all three of the big winners from Super Tuesday the week before at bay in his home state. 2004, Rev. Al Sharpton dropped out of the Democratic presidential nomination race. 2016, Senator Marco Rubio (R) suspended his campaign after a lackluster showing in primaries, including his home state of Florida, at the opening of the winner-take-all window on the Republican nomination calendar.

Monday, January 21, 2019

#InvisiblePrimary: Visible -- How the 2020 Endorsement Primary Will Be Different

Thoughts on the invisible primary and links to the movements during the days that recently were...

It is not going too far out on a limb to say that any one aspect of a presidential nomination cycle is or will be different than it was in previous cycles. That is and has been the nature of the process in the post-reform era. Rules change. Candidates change. Conditions change.

2020, then, is not exactly like 2016 in the same way that 2016 was not a carbon copy, at least on the Democratic side, of 2008.

One area where 2020 will differ from 2016 is in how candidates running for 2020 accrue endorsements along the way. Much has been made of the rules changes the Democratic National Committee made with respect to superdelegates. That group of unplugged delegates was not eliminated, but their collective voting power at the national convention was curbed to some degree. However, left untouched by the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee was the ability of individual superdelegates to endorse candidates vying for the 2020 nomination.

In that way, superdelegates could play much the same role in 2020 that they have in previous cycles.

But the conditions of 2020 may augur against that. For one thing, there are far more candidates who are seemingly running this time around than four years ago. And there is also no clear frontrunner at this point in 2020 as there was in 2016. The clarity of Clinton's status was buttressed by the endorsements she had. At a similar point in 2015, the former secretary of state had 62 high profile endorsements. And that was before she had announced her bid.

No one candidate for 2020, announced or not, has anything approaching that level of institutional support. Joe Biden's name has been invoked by California senior senator, Diane Feinstein, and New York governor, Andrew Cuomo. And while that may be significant given that folks from those two states -- Harris from the Golden state and Gillibrand from the Empire state -- are running, the total falls far short of Clinton's from four years ago (if one can even consider those full-throated endorsements for Biden at all).

Again, however, with a larger field of candidates and no clear frontrunner, some of that is to be expected. But there may also be other forces at work here that are worthy of further consideration.

One that has been mentioned in light of the 2016 controversy over superdelegates and resulting rules changes that stemmed from that is that some elected officials in the position to endorse may opt to wait as others have in the past until after their constituents have voted (or all of the voting is complete). In some way, superdelegate decision making on the endorsement question is like that of the calculus that big money donors are facing now: wait for the dust to settle a bit and then weigh in.

Yet, the extent to which superdelegates may be frozen out of making an endorsement goes beyond that which donors are encountering. Some may be waiting on a signal rather than more actively/forcefully giving one; a reverse of the causal relationship noted in Cohen, et al. in The Party Decides.

Another aspect of this that I have not seen picked up on to this point is the reduced potential for high profile endorsements this cycle as (unfairly?) compared to the far less wide open 2016 cycle. And what I mean by that is there are already a fair number of superdelegates who are vying for the Democratic nomination in 2020. On a basic level, then, there are just fewer superdelegates to provide endorsements. Elizabeth Warren is not going to endorse Cory Booker anymore than Kamala Harris is going to throw her support behind Jay Inslee. this time.

This, too, to some hypothetical extent has a freezing effect on other high profile would-be endorsers. Why support someone now only to see them withdraw from the race in the coming months? Why endorse a colleague/ally now over another colleague/ally?

In other words, there is a timing element to layer into this decision-making framework. The confluence of everything above may -- may -- give less incentive to early endorsements, but really increase the likelihood (and impact?) of later endorsements once the field has winnowed some and some of these superdelegates are culled from the pack.

In the meantime, there may be other endorsements to fill the void: state legislators. They may not meaningful on an individual endorsement basis, but in the aggregate may give us an idea of which candidates have some institutional support on the state level. And that may, in turn, influence where some of the heavier endorsement hitters wind up in the end.

Elsewhere in the invisible primary...

1. Add Kamala Harris to the list. The California senator is officially in and not just exploratory committee in -- like Castro, Gillibrand or Warren -- but in in.

2. Brown's PAC continues to add staff in Iowa.

3. Recent speeches are giving the potential Larry Hogan challenge of the president for the Republican nomination some steam.

4. If his was a run *for* 2020, it was a very half-hearted run from Bob Casey that is now over. It never really got beyond the "I won't close the door on it"/"I'm thinking about it" stage.

5. Booker gets encouragement to run while in Louisiana and Georgia on his trips through the states on the way to South Carolina on the MLK holiday.

6. New Hampshire got a visit from Warren for the second consecutive weekend, and South Carolina will see her there this week.

7. Howard Schultz and his advisers floating the idea of an independent bid seemingly indicates an awful lot about how things are going for him in the Democratic invisible primary.

8. There were no endorsements, but one would rather have potentially influential Iowa Democrats at a  speech during a first trip to the Hawkeye state than not. Gillibrand had the state party chair and 2018 Democratic for secretary of state stop in.

9. Both Gillibrand and Harris are touting widely distributed fundraising successes following their presidential announcements.

10. Swalwell's Palmetto pitstop over the weekend gave a bit more of a glimpse into his thinking on a run.

11. Finally, Elaine Kamarck has a solid piece on the 2020 rules and the Democratic nomination. The only omission is some of the superdelegates/endorsements-related implications which were more controversial in 2016 and were not affected, at least not directly, by the changes for 2020.

Has FHQ missed something you feel should be included? Drop us a line or a comment and we'll make room for it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ted Kennedy's 2008 Endorsement of Barack Obama

In the comments to Democratic Change Commission post I put up yesterday, Rob pointed out something about the late Ted Kennedy's endorsement of Barack Obama's presidential candidacy last year that was running through my mind yesterday.

Rob writes:
"I know that I am slightly off topic here, but one of the tributes to Ted Kennedy is that his endorsement of the Obama candidacy was a key factor in Obama's nomination. As I recall, many commentators at the time suggested that the endorsement was a big blow to the Clinton campaign. I thought, though, in the aftermath it became a consensus opinion that none of the endorsements in that campaign meant much, even EMKs. Am I imagining something or is this point just part of the glow of appreciation of man who has just passed away?"

The underlying question is, "Did Kennedy's endorsement have an impact and if so, to what degree?" There's no doubt that it had an impact. But measuring the endorsement's influence is difficult. For starters, we know that the endorsements game is one of zero sums. If Barack Obama gets the endorsement, then Hillary Clinton cannot. [Well, I suppose flip-flopping superdelegates are an exception to that rule. John Lewis, I'm looking in your direction.] Beyond that, we also know that in a presidential primary election environment, where contests follow one another (or groups of contests follow other groups of contests), the easiest way to measure the impact is to see how elections results are affected following the endorsement. Now from a hypothetical standpoint, this impact would be the greatest within the political boundaries and among the constituency the endorser represents.

In 2008, Ted Kennedy's endorsement could have been hypothesized to have bolstered Obama's chances ahead of the Massachusetts primary. The timeline went like this:

January 27: Caroline Kennedy's op-ed endorsing Obama appears in the New York Times.
January 28: Ted Kennedy endorses Obama.
February 5: Clinton bests Obama in the Bay state by a count of 56% to 41%.

The immediate, back of the napkin reaction in our (UGA) discussion group, as I recall, was that the endorsement didn't seem to have had that much of an effect. Some of the reasons cited were that the endorsement was made too close to the actual voting in the contest (just a week prior), and that Massachusetts was one among MANY other states holding contests on February 5. Indeed, to that second point, the Obama campaign was focused on grassroots efforts particularly in the caucus states on February 5 and beyond. That excluded Massachusetts.

But that brings up an important distinction: short-term versus long-term influence of endorsements. Prior to and after February 5, it was becoming apparent that the Democratic nomination race would be one focused on the delegate count. That differed from past years where momentum quickly carried most eventual nominees to their party's nomination and delegate counts were an afterthought. But in 2008, everyone was focused on that counting to the detriment of everything else. Unlike other years, then, when a Kennedy-type endorsement, if it even came before the nomination was wrapped up, would have been rolled into the narrative of "Candidate X had the momentum and won the nomination," 2008 gave us a different angle. The race as it played out afforded us the opportunity to attempt to separate the long-term and short-term goals instead of having them overlap almost completely.

Again, in the immediate aftermath of Super Tuesday, the Kennedy endorsement seemed to have backfired. But as Obama ran up the score throughout his February streak of victories and finally won the nomination in the late spring, the Kennedy decision looked better and better.

If we step back and look long-term, the impact of the endorsement seems to have been that it helped Obama gain a foothold within the Washington establishment; a wing of the party that more often than not leaned toward Clinton. In that zero sum environment, then, Kennedy's endorsement did hurt Clinton's campaign, but only because it helped Obama's instead. But there's a spectrum there, right? Did it help Obama more or less than it hurt Clinton? Personally, I think it helped Obama more. Clinton was already doing pretty well among the Washington establishment. If you look at some of the posts over at DemConWatch just before Super Tuesday, you get sense of this. Upon Edwards dropping out just after the Florida primary on January 29, Clinton had a two to one (approximately) advantage in superdelegates over, but as Matt (DemConWatch contributor) pointed on the final day of the month, an interesting pattern was emerging among superdelegates. Obama was picking up momentum among the supers just before February 5; especially big name supers. The then-Illinois senator was outpacing Clinton and in fact gaining on her in that count.

Kennedy's endorsement was just a part of that gradual movement toward Obama and maybe even slightly ahead of the curve.

Note: I should mention that the view from the political science literature on the impact of endorsements is mixed. In many ways it is lacking mainly because of the issues I cited above. What is being influenced, in other words? Electoral outcomes are one possibility as are polling numbers in specific states whether measuring vote intention of overall approval. The problem with those measures is that there are obviously many other factors affecting their variation. Does that mean we pack it up and head home? No, but what that ultimately means is that we end up with mixed results ranging from an endorsement had no impact to an endorsement had a big impact.

UPDATE: Here are a few reactions to the Kennedy endorsement at the time:
ABCNews Political Radar
New York Times The Caucus
Here are a couple from The Fix (Washington Post): one and two

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Monday, February 18, 2008

The Weekend Wrap Up--The Presidents' Day Edition

Well, this post won't break any new ground, but is simply a selfish attempt to catalog the events of the last several days for my own personal use (Hey, someone else may want to look at it too!). So what has happened to change the landscape? Let's look at the events for each party:

--Romney endorses McCain: This move doesn't affect McCain as much as it affects Huckabee. McCain will get the nod (eventually), but Huckabee's time in the race is dependent upon the time it takes McCain to get to the 1191 delegates necessary to secure the GOP nomination. CNN is giving all of Romney's delegates in this story; getting McCain to within 78 delegates of the threshold. There must have been some movement in the unpledged delegate area because those numbers don't jibe well with the cable network's current delegate tally. By the current count (and remember, these things vary) McCain would be within 75 delegates of 1191. Handing all those Romney delegates over though is misguided. Their release is dependent upon the rules in each of the states in which Romney was able to capture delegates. That's seventeen states:








B (2nd ballot)




B (1st ballot)








B (1st ballot)




B (2nd ballot)




B (2nd ballot)




B (1st ballot)
















B (1st ballot)








B (1st ballot)



























Not Bound

But how many of those delegates can be released to McCain within the rules in each of these states? This may be a less than scientific approach, but applying the rules of the 2004 GOP delegate selection (concerning which states' delegates were bound), 133 of those 286 Romney delegates are not bound. Returning to CNN's delegate count, that would move McCain up to 963, but would keep him 228 away from the mark that would knock Huckabee out. [One thing I should note is that only Utah's delegate binding rules are known of the 17 states above. The language in the bylaws of the other state parties was less than forthcoming.]

UPDATE: The first President Bush has endorsed McCain now. Now if the McCain folks could figure out how to use the current President Bush in their campaign. They face a similar quandary to the one faced by Al Gore during the 2000 election. That balance will go a long way toward determining how successful McCain will be in the general election.

--Huckabee takes a vacation: Here's all you need to know (from The Caucus this morning):

"Meanwhile, as the Democrats were dealing with the snowstorm, Mike Huckabee’s greatest immediate problem was perhaps his reddened face, scorched by the intense Cayman Islands sun, writes Katharine Q. Seelye of The Times. Mr. Huckabee, the G.O.P. candidate, spent the weekend on the resort island while he addressed a crowd and collected a speaker’s fee.

Mr. Huckabee turned the occasion into an opportunity to point out that his chief rival for the Republican presidential nomination, John McCain of Arizona, and the two Democrats seeking their party’s nomination are senators and that unlike them, he did not receive a taxpayer-financed salary while campaigning.

'No taxpayers pay for me to have health insurance, to pay my mortgage, to pay my bills,” Mr. Huckabee said. “And so to me, it’s not just absurd, it’s beyond absurd — it’s insulting — to think that there’s something nefarious about my being here when nobody has raised the question about sitting U.S. senators taking their full paycheck and enjoying all the magnificent perks they get from the U.S. taxpayers.'"

I liked this story and especially Huckabee's response to questions of his means of acquiring necessary campaign funds. One of his marks on this race will not only be how his performance questioned McCain's standing among the very conservative within the party, but his campaign's wit. He's been consistently good at delivering clever one-liners for a while now.

--Clinton wins New Mexico: Since this decision came to light after the Super Tuesday vote, some have speculated that this win breaks Obama's streak of recent victories. Possibly. However, what it does do is give the Clinton campaign a break in the slew of negative stories that have hit her campaign of late (personal loan to campaign, losing campaign and deputy campaign managers, losing eight contests in a row). The polls continue to look favorable in Wisconsin and good in both Ohio and Texas.

--SEIU endorses Obama: On the heels of the endorsement of the United Food and Commercial Workers, the SEIU endorsement further bolsters Obama's support among the unions. As the UFCW link on The Caucus points out, there are many Hispanics among the ranks of both unions and that could help Obama in Texas on March 4.

--Wisconsin turns "ugly": It really remains to be seen whether this will help or hurt Clinton in Wisconsin. One thing's for sure, we'll be able to start putting together an answer to that question when tomorrow's results start coming in. Obama has been up to the task thus far though; dispatching Wisconsin governor, Jim Doyle, to counter Clinton's claims. The Obama camp has been very disciplined in responding to attacks.

--The Lewis flip-flop: This has already been discussed in the comments section, but like the Romney delegates' release, it has real ramifications during this cycle.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Thompson's out (Hunter too), the Myrtle Beach Massacre and more!

I don't think it comes as much of a surprise to anyone that Fred Thompson decided to hang it up to potentially return to playing Rudy Giuliani on TV. How does his departure affect the race for the GOP nomination though. I'm sure the folks aligned with Huckabee would have liked for the former Tennessee senator to drop out before South Carolina last weekend. Here's the take on the situation from The Fix over at The Washington Post.

Meanwhile they are still cleaning up the carnage from the debate hall in northeast South Carolina. If you missed the Democrats' debate from Myrtle Beach Monday night, you may want to go check it out (CNN still has the debate up and the transcript is also there.). You may also want to fire up your memory while you're at it because we'll see/hear some of this material again come general election time. The viable Republican candidates sure will once one of them emerges as the party's nominee. You can't complain when intra-party battles help your own potential opposition research for the fall campaign. What do you think? Will this debate bickering hurt both Clinton and Obama in South Carolina? And will that help Edwards? The CNN page linked above has a video with undecideds turned off by what they saw.

There are a few things to note as we approach the Democratic primary on Saturday:

1) Will Jim Clyburn make an endorsement? The influential South Carolina Democrat said he wouldn't (...until after Iowa), but there is some chatter out there indicating that a well-timed Obama endorsement could happen on Thursday. Thanks to The Caucus at the New York Times for that link. Hopefully this isn't a case of a runaway blog story, but there is some other speculation to "back this up."

2) What will turnout be like for the primary this weekend? Turnout for the GOP primary was down as compared to what the state experienced for the Republican primary there in 2000, but let's remember that South Carolina has an open primary system. Independents may have stayed home last weekend so that they could participate in the Democratic contest this weekend. But it could just have been the cold, rainy weather, a crop of unsatisfying candidates or that undecideds just couldn't decide and stayed home.

3) What do Clinton's trips to California yesterday and New York today mean (track daily visits at Is she ceding South Carolina to Obama or is her campaign focusing on February 5? The big win that Rob spoke about Obama needing in the comments section the other day may not mean so much if Hillary didn't give her all in the state.