Showing posts with label late entry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label late entry. Show all posts

Monday, January 30, 2012

I'll see your white knight and raise you a filing deadline. Why It's Too Late for Entry in the Republican Nomination Race

Way back in the summer (of 2011), FHQ began fielding calls and emails from a number of media outlets asking about the filing deadlines for primaries and caucuses in the various states. It really picked up in late September and into October as some folks in the press continued to, well, press the notion of a late Palin candidacy. From that point onward, the Palin speculation may have dropped off to some extent, but a cottage industry has popped up in the wake of it and proliferated throughout the Republican presidential primary landscape around the notion of late entry. Candidates go up, candidates come down, Romney stays the same and the overall field is weak are among the various catalysts for continued speculation. And when Newt Gingrich won South Carolina (the third winner in three contests), casting some doubt on the ability of Republican primary voters to come to a consensus on any one of the declared candidates, the whirling dervish of late entry speculation spun even faster.

Sure, the naysayers would say, "Well, it is too late. Deadlines have passed. No one else can get in." But that never really stopped the drum beat of late entry. FHQ has been in this latter group, but has been as guilty as others from not having fully dug into the matter. Let's throw some data at the issue. What follows will either put things to rest once and for all that it is too late or embolden those champing at the bit for another round or future rounds of late entry talk. [Yeah, Bill Kristol, I'm looking at you.]

So, is it possible for another candidate to get in?

Below are the filing deadlines in the remaining states. And hey, because FHQ is feeling generous let us also consider whether those states also allow uncommitteed/no preference slots on the primary ballot -- Voters have the option to vote for uncommitted or no preference on the ballot. -- and/or allow write-in votes. Let's open this door as wide as it will open and look at the delegates at stake in those states. The filing deadlines have passed in the February states, and the list below is of states with March or later contests -- with the exception of Michigan which allows voters to choose "uncommitted". If a state does not appear, all options are closed off to any potential late entrants. [Georgia, for instance, had a deadline 60 prior to the March 6 primary in which the candidate list was set, prohibits the uncommitted line on the ballot and does not allow write-in votes.] Finally, there are also a number of states where none of this information is known. Those states are included in the table only because it isn't known whether those three options have been closed off.

2012 Presidential Primary Filing Deadlines
No Preference
Alaska3/62/4No preference--27
Massachusetts3/61/6No preference41
North Dakota3/6Ballot set 2/12n/an/a28
Virginia3/612/22Bill to allow uncommitted--49
Virgin Islands3/102/10Uncommitted--9
American Samoa3/13n/an/an/a9
Puerto Rico3/181/18n/an/a23
Washington, DC4/31/4Uncommitted--19
Wisconsin4/31/28 1/31Uninstructed42
New York4/242/9Uncommitted1595
Rhode Island4/241/21Uncommitted--19
North Carolina5/83/618Uncommitted--55
West Virginia5/81/28Uncommitted1931
New Jersey6/54/2--50
New Mexico6/53/16----23
South Dakota6/53/27Uncommitted26--28
Source: FEC, state election law, state party rules
1 States included above are those where there is still an option for a candidate not currently declared in the 2012 Republican presidential nomination (ie: filing deadline has not passed, there is an uncommitted or no preference line on the ballot or where write-in is a possibility).
2 Candidates placed on ballot according to who is an announced candidate by February 1. 
3 See Tennessee Code (Title 2, Chapter 13, Part 3).
4 Precinct caucuses begin 2/9. 
5 Candidates who enter race after 2/1 can be given an extension.
6 It is not clear whether there is an "uncommitted" line on the Hawaii caucus ballot. The evidence seems to suggest that only votes for actual declared candidates count. That said, delegates do not not have to commit to any candidate, but if they do that delegate is committed to that candidate -- if still in the race -- through the first ballot at the Republican National Convention. The delegates can go to the convention uncommitted, but it is a different process than is being talked about in the other cases where voters are marking a ballot for "uncommitted".
7 Write-in votes are only counted if they are cast for candidates registered with the FEC.
8 See Mississippi Code (Title 23, Chapter 15, Article 13B).
9 Delegates (or slates of delegates) file at the same time as candidates, but those delegates can file as "uncommitted" and is listed as such on the ballot. However, there is no "uncommitted" list on the presidential preference portion of the ballot.
10 There is no uncommitted line on the Louisiana primary ballot, but delegates may be uncommitted if no candidate receives over 25% of the primary vote. Those delegates would go to the national convention uncommitted. The congressional district delegates automatically go to the national convention unpledged. 
11 Maryland delegates can run as "uncommitted" and be marked that way on the primary ballot if the party requests such of the State Board of Elections. [Maryland Code Title 8, Subtitle 5, 8-501] There is no evidence that the Maryland GOP has made such a request in 2012. The Maryland Secretary of State's office confirmed to FHQ on February 2, 2012 that only the Democratic presidential primary ballot will include an uncommitted line. The Republican primary ballot will not.
12 Write-ins are allowed if a candidate files a certificate of candidacy to run as a write-in candidate. The deadline for that is the earlier of either within a week of filing with the FEC or the Wednesday before the election. [Maryland Code Title 5, Subtitle 3, 5-303]
13 February 1 is the end of the filing period established by the courts in the Texas redistricting case, but any changes to those districts may ultimately affect both the date of the primary and the close of the filing period. On January 27, the February 1 filing deadline was suspended until further order by the San Antonio court
14 Write-in votes are allowed so long as the candidate has registered his or her candidacy with the Connecticut secretary of state.
15 The "uncommitted" line is allowed on the presidential primary ballot in New York so long as the procedures to file -- as if a candidate -- are followed.
16 Delegates (or slates of delegates) file as the presidential candidate and indicate whether they are committed or uncommitted which is in turn listed on the ballot. As is the case on the Illinois ballot, there is no line for "uncommitted" on the presidential preference portion of the ballot.
17 Petitions to file for candidacy in Indiana are due to the secretary of state by January 31.
18 The North Carolina State Board of Elections meets to set the ballot based on a list of candidates provided by the state parties and those candidates having filed by petition by the Monday (3/5/12) preceding the Board meeting.
19 The delegates listed on the West Virginia ballot have their presidential preference (or "uncommitted") listed next to their names on the primary ballot, but their is no "uncommitted" line among the presidential preference portion of the ballot.
20 The Nebraska primary is non-binding. All delegates will be allocated at the July state convention.
21 See Arkansas Code (Title 7, Chapter 8, Section 201).
22 See Arkansas Code (Title 7, Chapter 5, Section 525).
23 Write-ins are not expressly forbidden according to Kentucky code, but the allowance and declaration of intent for are only associated with general elections. Recent past presidential primary elections have also had no write-in votes cast. 
24 Voters can write in anyone on a ballot, but those ballots will only be counted if the candidate voted for has filed as a write-in candidate with the state.
25 Montana has an advisory/non-binding primary on the Republican side. All delegates are selected at the mid-June state convention. 
26 The uncommitted provision in the state law is dependent upon the state parties not having delegate selection rules prohibiting such a designation on the ballot. The South Dakota Republican Party allows uncommitted slates to appear on the ballot

That's 1768 delegates where either the filing deadlines have not passed, uncommitted lines are on or can be added to the ballot or write-in votes are allowed. If the states where not enough information is known (American Samoa, Missouri, Puerto Rico and Wyoming) and those where a deadline has passed and legislation to add an uncommitted line to ballot is under consideration in the state legislature (Virginia) are subtracted from the total, that leaves us with 1606 delegates. However, if we add back in the delegates from the early caucuses where delegates will eventually go to the Tampa convention unbound (Iowa, Maine, Colorado and maybe Minnesota -- see the delegate allocation by state) that adds back up to 128 delegates for 1734 delegates. If the list is constrained more simply to the states where filing deadlines have not passed, the total delegates open to a late entrant drops to 1157. After Tuesday, when Kentucky's (and Indiana's petition -- see footnote 17 above) deadlines pass that total will drop below 1144 to 1066.

No matter how you look at it, then, there are or would be enough delegates for a late entrant to possibly get to 1144, or in the more chaotic, yet more likely late entry (if it were to happen), scenario after Tuesday, earn enough support to keep another candidate from getting there, sending the decision to the convention; a brokered, uh, deadlocked convention.

But here's the thing: Who is that candidate? Let me rephrase that. Who is the candidate who can not only successfully enter the race late, but who can also marshal the organization necessary to cobble together enough delegates to take the nomination or throw enough of a monkeywrench into the process and still maintain support in the party to win the nomination at the convention? Let's think about this for a moment. There are people in this race now actively seeking the nomination (and who have been running for president for quite some time) who cannot get on the ballots in some states. And we are expecting someone to come in and immediately be able to beat these deadlines, organize write-in efforts and uncommitted slates of delegates to get within shouting distance of 1144 or a lower total held by the frontrunner.

I apologize, folks. But I just don't see it. There is no silver bullet. There is no white knight.

...unless someone else's name -- someone other than Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum or Ron Paul -- is put forth at a brokered, uh, deadlocked convention.

Is that possible?


Is that probable?

There is nothing that has happened in the post-reform era (1972-present) that would lead anyone to the conclusion that it is.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Jeb Bush is running for president.

No, Jeb Bush isn't running for president.

...yet, if you are to believe Rhodes Cook and Bill Kristol today.

[Sorry. FHQ had to have some fun.]

FHQ is as big a fan of wild speculation as anyone, but there is absolutely no evidence in the post-reform era that a candidate can jump into the nomination process midstream and end up being successful (defined as winning the nomination). Yes, I am fully aware that those in support of this theory are likely to throw the calendar and delegate math in my face. [I know. Me!?! How can the primary calendar be thrown in my face?]

Since the presidential nomination process was reformed ahead of the 1972 cycle, the calendar has become increasingly frontloaded -- more contests clustered at the beginning of the process. The calendar movement occurred in fits and starts across every cycle with the exception of maybe 1992 when slight shifts forward were counteracted by several southern states abandoning the failed -- from the perspective of the Democratic state governments that spearheaded the moves -- Southern Super Tuesday after 1988.

2012 is different, though.

The national party delegate selection rules and the actions of Florida (and Arizona and Michigan) yielded a presidential primary calendar unlike those witnessed throughout much of the post-reform era. 2012 is far more backloaded than earlier calendars and has a quick/early start followed by a lull in February. The only good parallels to 2012 are the very earliest calendars, and those are imperfect comparisons because they occurred during the transition period of the new nomination system. Candidates were still attempting to adapt to the new system and late entries were slightly more common. In the time since, however, the propensity of those on the outside of the process looking in to get into the race has trailed off dramatically.

It just doesn't happen. That does not mean that it cannot happen, it just means that is usually doesn't.

But let's look back at a calendar with a similar delegate math/progression and similar dynamics: the 1992 Democratic nomination race. I know. This comparison has been made before. Bear with FHQ here. Look at the calendar and the delegate progression through the 1992 cycle.

The calendar
There was a two week gap between New Hampshire and Super Tuesday in 1992 as compared to the two and a half week gap between Maine (Those caucus results won't be released until February 11.) and Arizona/Michigan on February 28.  Super Tuesday 2012 follows a week later.

The delegate math
Looking at the delegate math, 1992 and 2012 are also similar. There are three main spikes in each: Super Tuesday, April (the first week in 1992 and the fourth week in 2012) and the first week in June. Those are the big delegate days in each.

The dynamics
The clear similarity between the 1992 Democratic race and the 2012 Republican nomination race is that there is no clear frontrunner; not one that was firmly established in the invisible primary and maintained that position heading into and through the primary calendar. If ever there was a chance for voters to have some buyer's remorse and/or for an outsider (see Mario Cuomo) to jump in, it would have been during the 1992 cycle (see Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, "I didn't inhale."). And you know what? Voters in later states did exhibit some buyer's remorse. There was some movement toward Jerry Brown's candidacy, but in the end it wasn't enough to secure the nomination. In fact, it wasn't even close.

A few of caveats:
1) Let's please remember that Democrats then (and now) required the proportional allocation of delegates in all contests. That slows the process down and opens the door even further to the possibility of someone jumping in midstream. And while the RNC has changed the delegate allocation rules for the 2012 cycle, the impact of the change has been grossly overstated to this point. The picture remains incomplete, but state-by-state there are very few substantive changes in the method of delegate allocation as compared to 2008. The Republican nomination process may slow down, but it will be due more to the calendar than to those rules. As such, the 1992 Democratic nomination race serves as a good comparison point that actually offered a slightly greater opportunity -- according to Cook's metric -- to enter the race late.

2) This is a big one. FHQ alluded to the voters above and they all too often get left out of these thought exercises. Look, things change immeasurably once the first votes are cast. Once the votes have been cast and candidates actually start winning something -- You know, something other than straw polls and meaningless polls of states at the end of the process -- the mindset changes. Voters don't typically say, "Crap, Mitt Romney won Iowa. Who else is out there for me to vote for who isn't on the ballot yet in some of these later states?" And voters definitely don't say, "Crap, Newt Gingrich won Iowa and South Carolina and Mitt Romney won New Hampshire, Florida and Nevada. Who else is out there?" No, instead, voters start to either vote for the frontrunner (or someone else in the race -- see Ron Paul's support in the contests after McCain wrapped up the nomination on March 4, 2008.) or in the second scenario, they separate into camps a la the Democratic race in 2008. There may be some shopping around, but on the rare occasions when it occurs, it is shopping around for someone who is already in the race. Voters don't pine for some not in the race. If that was the case, would we not have seen someone else jump into challenge McCain in 2008?

3) The final piece of this puzzle is that we need to examine the conditions under which someone would actually jump into the 2012 race after the contests have actually begun. For 2012, one would have to think that the potential to divide the Republican Party in the scenario where Mitt Romney emerges early or to divide it further in the case that Romney and Gingrich are trading wins is enough to scare most away. If there was a silver bullet candidate out there, he or she would already be in the race. [I thought we settled this during the Chris Christie is reconsidering period.] In other words, it would take a consensus candidate who is not out there or doesn't want to run. Outside of that reality, it would take Obama going into free fall in the polls to possibly bring another Republican into the race. Economic growth projections are good for the first two quarters in 2012, but that could certainly be affected by the  Eurozone situation. Something could also happen on the international stage (Iran flares up for example.). But something like that is likely to help Obama, not hurt him (Rally 'round the flag effect) in the short term. And that underlines the fact that something like that needs to happen in the next couple of months. FHQ just doesn't see that.


Let me close by returning to the voters. If they begin to shop around once Romney and/or Gingrich begins winning contests then it will likely be for someone who is already out there and actually has some resources at his or her disposal. Who is that candidate? Well, Bernstein are you paying attention, it is likely to be Rick Perry playing the Jerry Brown role. But like Brown, Perry is likely to in that scenario play spoiler to either Gingrich or Romney than to actually win the nomination himself.

So, for the record, FHQ predicts that the field is set. Sorry Jeb supporters, but you'll have to wait until 2016.

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