Showing posts with label media. Show all posts
Showing posts with label media. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

How Do New Hampshirites Really Feel About 2024 and the Presidential Primary Calendar?

FHQ will admit it. We almost took the bait. 


Another group of New Hampshire Democrats are voicing their displeasure with President Biden's proposed shake up to the 2024 presidential primary calendar. And once again, it looks like a doubling -- or tripling -- down on the same arguments that Democrats in the Granite state have used in defense of their first-in-the-nation presidential primary since the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee (DNCRBC) adopted the proposed calendar in December. And these Democrats are equally as justified in making that defense directly to the president as others have been over the last month or more. The calendar decision has not been finalized and will not be until the February DNC winter meeting at the earliest. 

But the national media keeps treating this as a national story. And it is! In that national story, New Hampshire Democrats keep digging in, seemingly making the situation worse with national Democrats. In that game it would behoove New Hampshire Democrats to quietly defer to the state law that requires the secretary of state in the Granite state to schedule the presidential primary there at least seven days before any other similar contest. That decision, after all, is out of their hands. So, too, are the changes to state law that the DNCRBC has requested New Hampshire Democrats push for with Republicans in control of the levers of power in the state. 

What continues to be in the control of New Hampshire Democrats is how they push for those changes. Elected Democrats in the New Hampshire General Court can propose legislation to change the date of the primary and to add no-excuse absentee voting. One Democrat has already proposed an expansion of absentee voting conditions (even if those changes likely fall short of what national Democrats have in mind).

Granted, the incentives are just not there to push for changes to the presidential primary date or to propose some alternative method of selecting and allocating national convention delegates. Those are both well within the power of New Hampshire Democrats to do, but to cede any ground -- any -- on first-in-the-nation status is to undermine the whole institution. And Democrats in the Granite state are not going to do that, especially before the decision has been finalized at the national level. 

So we are all left with this constant back and forth of bad optics for New Hampshire Democrats in the national media. A decision still has not been made and the vacuum keeps getting filled by the constant, yet natural, drip of New Hampshire Democrats lobbying the president or the DNCRBC in the lead up to when the calendar decision is to be made.

But rather than continue on that feedback loop where a new communication from Concord to Washington begets yet another national story about New Hampshire Democrats digging their hole even deeper with national Democrats, the focus should perhaps be elsewhere. 

Why is it that New Hampshire Democrats are doing this? Yes, yes. Defense of the presidential primary. Everyone gets that. But why are they doing this in this way when continued defiance only hurts them with the national party -- when it only seemingly brings the state party inescapably closer to sanctions from the national party? 

Much of this has to do with the fact that New Hampshire Democrats have two audiences to which they have to play. Every facet of the above story is about how the decisions state Democrats are making are playing with the national party audience (whether the national party as an organization or Democrats nationally). But how do these decisions play at home? In New Hampshire? 

No, FHQ is not talking about the DNC proposal. The vocalized response thus far seems to be against the changes called for the in the calendar plan adopted by the DNCRBC (but not yet finalized by the DNC). But how do New Hampshirites feel about the defense the Democratic Party in the Granite state is waging? 

Do they feel it is adequate? 

Do they feel it is even necessary? 

This strikes FHQ as a missing link in all the reporting on the New Hampshire Democratic Party response to the DNCRBC decision. The public reaction to the DNCRBC decision has been covered but feelings about the NHDP response have not. And that is important. It is important because NHDP continues to raise the negative ramifications of the national-level process and decision on electoral prospects for Democrats up and down the ballot in the Granite state. 

If New Hampshire Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents in the electorate are of the opinion that the NHDP response to the national party is adequate, then it may not hurt Democrats in races other than the presidential race in 2024 or only affect them at the margins. [Yes, those margins can matter.] 

If those same folks in New Hampshire feel like the response from NHDP is unnecessary -- that New Hampshire is going to do what New Hampshire is going to do and go first anyway -- then it may not hurt Democrats at all in 2024. Republicans in the state are just screaming into the wind to no avail when raising the issue as a potential wedge. 

But we do not know those things. They are not part of the national narrative on this story. [And the New Hampshire press has incentives to tell this story as a defense of the primary and that alone.] So this story keeps getting told the same way every time it is revealed that some New Hampshire Democrat or group of them is making another pitch to some national Democrat or the DNCRBC. 

And it is not that FHQ is demanding a poll be commissioned. We do not even really have this information anecdotally. We are just being made to take a variety of New Hampshire Democrats' words for it that this calendar move -- whether New Hampshire Democrats defy it or not -- will be injurious to Democrats in 2024. 

Will it? There are ways to answer that and no one is really getting at them. least not yet.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Psychology of the 2012 Republican Nomination Coverage

Last night Nate Silver tweeted:
Starting to think that "25% is a ceiling for Romney" is the most overrated/incorrect meme of the cycle.
To which FHQ responded:
The 25% ceiling combined with the "proportional" rules changes has built a powerful myth in this race.
I'm sure that the 140 characters or less captured my thoughts parsimoniously enough, but let FHQ expand upon that statement because it has an overarching bearing on the psychology of the coverage of this race. Look, FHQ has railed against the myth of Republican proportionality since February of last year. That many have ignored the rules changes and more importantly their potential impact relative to the rules in past cycles has propped up this illusion that the Republican presidential nomination process just has to extend longer than in the past. It might but that notion is no more inevitable than a Mitt Romney nomination at this point. Well, in actuality, it is less likely as the two are mutually exclusive.

But there it is in the backs of the minds of a great many folks. That perception that the race is likely to continue -- and it stretches into the campaigns themselves. In combination with the all-too falsely concocted idea that Romney has a ceiling in this race, the proportionality/protracted campaign myth creates the perception that not only will the race go on, but that there is a significant faction of Republican primary voters opposed to Romney. Now, that perceived divisiveness on top of a lengthy nomination fight is the stuff that sells papers and magazines and gets people to click on any given link, but it doesn't really capture the true nature of the race currently. It just doesn't.

I don't know that it is the ceiling so much as the talking point surrounding the converse -- that 75% of the electorate is in opposition to Romney -- is the crux of the problem. Truth be told, up to 75% of the Republican primary may be in opposition, but the number is likely much lower. Many voters are still shopping around and as the field continues to winnow and when and if Romney continues to win contests, most are going to move over to the former Massachusetts governor. They just are. Most Republicans will line up behind the presumptive, near-inevitable, last one standing -- whatever you want to call it -- nominee.

To be sure, there are simultaneously stories out there discussing Romney's inevitability alongside those mentioning a protracted fight and that sets up the two sides of a media coverage spectrum. The needle is moving more and more toward inevitability now despite the myths that have propped up Romney's limited reach among Republicans and a rules-induced lengthy battle for the nomination.

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

2012 Calendar Correction Corner

There have been an awful lot of 2012 primary calendar stories out there the last few days. Layered into them has also been a fair amount of, oh, FHQ doesn't want to call it misinformation, but certainly things that could have used some footnotes or -- ideally -- more space. Look, the rules and the calendar are complicated. As I'm fond of saying, there's a reason someone can maintain a blog on the subject.

That said, I did want to point out a few of the more egregious instances of this.

The Mother Jones piece by Kate Sheppard that came out on Wednesday just didn't sit well with me. ...and right from the get-go:
The 2012 Republican primary contest might be all anyone can talk about these days, but there still isn't a very clear picture of what the primary calendar even looks like. With just months left before the first votes, the Republican National Committee has done little to reduce the uncertainty: GOP officials have yet to issue a final decision on which states will be first in 2012, and it's not clear when they will. 
While the RNC dawdles, several states are taking action. Arizona and Florida are considering jumping ahead of the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary to claim the first-in-the-nation title for themselves. If they do so, they could throw the entire primary calendar—and candidates' plans—into chaos.
If one is to purport that one is "explaining" the primary calendar (in the headline), then one had better have a basic understanding of the mechanics of the process behind what is being described. Some may say that the RNC should exert some power over rogue calendar states, but the typical reply around these parts is "What Power?" The notion that the RNC has "yet to issue a final decision on which states will be first in 2012" is borderline ludicrous. The parties set the guidelines -- both the RNC and DNC did so in 2010 -- and the states set their dates accordingly. Well, ideally states set their dates accordingly. Florida and Michigan (and Wyoming Republicans) broke with that tradition in 2008 and ushered in an era in which some states -- not all, mind you -- have decided to challenge the national party rules in an effort to maximize the state's influence over the nomination process. But again, the states are the ones making the decision here. The national parties only provide the guidelines and a set of (mostly toothless) penalties to keep states in line. The RNC and DNC have already weighed in on this (see figure below). Both would prefer the first four states to hold February contests with the remaining states following in March or later. So no, the RNC is not "dawdling". The national party may have lengthened this process by setting an October 1 deadline by which states have to decide on dates, but the party has not dragged their feet on this. Things are undecided as of now, but we absolutely know that Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina will go first.

...we just don't know when.

[Click to Enlarge]
Next on the list: 

I tweeted this yesterday, but thought I'd offer a slightly broader explanation here. Michael Shear at The Caucus blog at The New York Times in a rundown of the Arizona situation had this to say about the potential chain reaction an Arizona move to January 31 might set off:
So what? 
The calendar scramble is a rite of passage every four years for the candidates, reporters, pundits, pollsters, ad makers, schedulers, cable TV hosts and others who plan their lives around the presidential campaign. Just about everyone involved wants to know whether the campaigning will be reaching a crescendo during the Christmas and New Year holidays.

FHQ agrees that calendar jockeying is the norm -- or has been in the post-reform era -- but what we are witnessing in 2012 and before it in 2008 is something different than the frontloading that came before it.   Before 2008, and even during that cycle, states in varying numbers customarily clustered their contests at the earliest date allowed by the two national parties. But Florida's and Michigan's (and Wyoming Republicans') challenges to the "earliest allowed date" rule, as was mentioned above, fundamentally changed the process of the primary calendar developing. This was especially true after neither party did much to alter the penalties that rogue states face for violating the rules on timing between 2008 and 2012. Viewed through that lens, the challenges that we are seeing from Arizona, Florida, Michigan and Georgia at the moment are entirely predictable. 

So yes, the primary/caucus movement may be a rite of passage, but that rite has taken on a different form in the last two cycles. 

Finally, I want to gently push back against the NPR story on the calendar on All Things Considered this afternoon. The information was based on Liz Halloran's post on NPR's It's All Politics blog. I say gently push back because FHQ spoke with Ms. Halloran for that story. They opted to play up the primaries in December angle. And that's fine. People should know that it is a possibility. But Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina leaping into 2011 is a remote possibility. That December 5 date Elving cites is FHQ's and it is entirely predicated on Florida moving its primary to the earliest date that its state law allows the Presidential Preference Primary Date Selection Committee to set. Barring the Sunshine state moving to January 3, then, December primaries and caucuses are not going to happen. And given the current dynamics, it looks as if everyone will be able to fit into January even if Arizona moves to January 31. 

If you want to read a fairly quick synopsis of what is going on -- if you aren't reading yourself to sleep here -- I'd recommend Aaron Blake's post on The Washington Post's The Fix blog. I thought it was spot on.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rick Davis on New Media

This is part two in a series of posts on Rick Davis' recent visit with political science students and faculty at Wake Forest. See part one for some of Davis' thoughts on Sarah Palin's selection as McCain's vice presidential running mate.

The most underrated portion of the hour with Rick Davis this past Tuesday was his discussion of running a presidential campaign in the era of the 25 hour news cycle. [FHQ likes to add an extra hour for emphasis.] But to the McCain campaign (and I'd assume any other campaign for president or House or Senate or governor), this is something that has changed dramatically in the internet age. What he described taking place made me think of the masters of rapid response, the Clinton campaign in 1992, or more to the point, how they would have fared sixteen years in the future with Gennifer Flowers' and Paula Jones' accusations. It would have been completely different than simply going on 60 Minutes prior to New Hampshire.

Needless to say, Davis seemed to conjure up a vision from the campaign's perspective of both apprehension of and flat out animosity toward new media. Honestly, you can't blame him; it made his job more difficult. But Davis did seem to echo some of the same sentiment that came out of the White House earlier this week concerning liberal bloggers*. Davis called them, "guys who don't comb their hair and work from mom's basement." [Of course, I took exception to this as a blogger. I'll let you decide my ideological persuasion. I've certainly had the liberal label thrown at me. When I asked him my strategy question later on, I introduced myself as "Josh Putnam, Visiting Assistant professor ... and blogger. And (touching my head) I'd like to think I combed my hair this morning. I have a class to teach after this." He laughed it off and said I looked good. I'm so insecure.]

But Davis went on to describe the dilemma the McCain campaign was in and what most presidential campaigns must face these days. Bloggers and their "breaking stories at 2 in the morning" were only part of it. They had a warroom of sorts set up to monitor blogs and an in-house studio to respond nationally or to a targeted media market affiliate at the drop of a hat. The big deal, though was the media pool that was with them on the Straight Talk Express or on the campaign's plane en route to the next campaign stop. Davis drew a line between the Express of 2000 and the 2008 Express; that in 2000, the insurgent campaign and the bus were a novelty worth following. As such, they career journalists following them. But in 2008, in the new era and after old guard journos of 2000 had either retired or been laid off, they were being followed by a group of folks whose "average age must have been 25" and who were "carrying these little handheld cameras."

It was this latter point that Davis stressed the most. The campaign was just not ready for the changes since 2000. Senator McCain was fine, but without make up "looked like Caspar the Friendly Ghost" or "looked a hundred years old" on the tape shot on those cameras. What compounded matters was that the Obama campaign or their surrogates would quickly "release statements after one of these videos appeared on the news/web saying 'McCain looked frail today.'"

"That really bothered me," Davis said. [All the while I had two thoughts going through my head. One serious: The 2008 campaign really had a delicate nature to it in the face of two historic candidacies. Much was made of Barack Obama's race and even though it received attention, McCain's age often took a back seat. But there really was this weird racism/ageism undertone to the race. And one not so serious: Bobby Bowden knows how McCain felt.]

So the McCain camp, Davis in particular, had a dilemma: "Ban them [the reporters]" or "spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to rip seats out of the plane and put in a small studio" so McCain could do those interviews. They chose the latter.

What all this really drove home was the idea of the standard presidential candidates are held to. It isn't falling down stairs or eating unshucked tamales anymore. No, those are things you can kinda sorta help. But age or race or weight or baldness aren't things you can help (or help easily sometimes -- Sorry Chris Christie. I tried.). It's a different era and that came through in what Rick Davis spoke about.

*"And for a sign of how seriously the White House does or doesn't take this opposition, one adviser told me today those [internet left fringe] bloggers need to take off their pajamas, get dressed and realize that governing a closely divided country is complicated and difficult." (from John Harwood at NBC, via Ta-Nehisi Coates)

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