Showing posts with label national party. Show all posts
Showing posts with label national party. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

From Where Will the 2024 Delegate Rules Changes Come?

A few weeks back FHQ pulled back the curtain on the baseline set of rules the Republican National Committee has to work from as the 2024 presidential nomination cycle continues to evolve. But with that hanging out there and a report on the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination process due by the end of the month, it is fair to ask from where future rules changes will emanate. 

Among the most basic layers here is to consider the parties that typically tinker with their rules as a new nomination process approaches. Despite all the rumblings about Democratic rules changes that may stem from the national party's upcoming autopsy, it tends to be parties out of the White House that maneuver within their rules as a means of attempting to recapture the presidency. Now, it is debatable just how effective that is, but out-parties routinely make rules changes that it hopes will streamline the process and/or produce a nominee well-positioned to take on an incumbent in the opposition party. Although they were not rules changes, per se, the 2013 Growth and Opportunity Project report the Republican Party produced made broad recommendations about the direction of the party but also included a section on rules changes aimed at shrinking the window in which primaries and caucuses could occur on the calendar among other things. Many of those rules recommendations were instituted by the Republican National Committee while the party went the other way in the lead up to and after the 2016 election on a number of the other recommendations. 

By that measure, then, 2024 starts somewhat off-kilter. Again, it is early, but the rumblings about delegate selection rules changes are on the in-party side of the equation. Discussions about replacing Iowa and/or New Hampshire at the front fo the 2024 presidential primary calendar or completely replacing caucuses with primaries abound among the broader Democratic Party coalition and within the commentariat. 

But much of that difference -- the in-party versus out-party dynamic -- early in the 2024 may largely be a function of the priorities of both parties. The wishlist for changes to the Democratic presidential nomination system is mostly a continuation -- an extension -- of the work completed ahead of the 2020 process. Through that lens, adding diversity to the beginning of the calendar or expanding participation by valuing primaries over caucuses is just finishing the work started in 2017-2018. 

Yet, that begs the question: what are the (out-party) Republicans up to? 

Thus far, it has been all quiet on the western front from the Grand Old Party. However, it should be repeated that the priorities there are different than for Democrats. Replacing Iowa and New Hampshire does not appear to be as important nor does the caucus to primary shift (despite some chatter in 2018 about an incentive structure to facilitate such a change). But what are the 2024 priorities for Republicans? If consensus can be built among decision makers in the national party about what type of nominee the party wants, then there may be some more extensive tinkering than there was during Trump's 2020 nomination defense. That consensus may not come or may not be easy to come by as candidates and their proxies in power within the Republican National Committee jockey for position during the 2024 invisible primary. 

And like the 2020 platform, the national rules on the Republican side may very well carry over as is (or with minor corrections to reflect the change in cycle) to the 2024 cycle. Of course, that does not mean that there will not be rules changes for 2024 for the Republican process. It just means that it may not be coming from the national party. Instead, it may be the states and state parties where those changes take shape under the guidance of the national party rules. Although it has waned during recent cycles, Republican state parties still have more latitude to craft their own delegate selection and allocation processes under national party rules than do their Democratic state party counterparts. There very simply are fewer mandates from the national level on Republican state parties. 

Even in that scenario, however, state parties are still limited in what they can do. State governments in primary states are responsible for altering the date of the contest, but state parties do have some discretion on how to allocate delegates to candidates based on the results of primaries and caucuses. And that could be where there is some movement on the Republican rules in 2023. Yet, if there is enough of a groundswell from the state parties up to the Republican National Committee to expand or revert those allocation rules to pre-2012 levels, then there could be some push to end the use of the proportionality window at the beginning of the calendar, requiring states to allocate delegates in a proportional manner during the first half of March. 

For now, however, all of this is speculative. The relative silence on the Republican side has made this all a mystery to this point in the cycle. The obvious "problem" areas once common across parties are not exactly problematic for Republicans. It could also be said that the perception of delegate selection rules problems is asymmetric across national parties. That may yet change as the cycle develops, but at this point bet on state-level changes over national-level rules changes until anything new bubbles up, something that also differs from how Democrats have handled things in their own rules change track up to now.

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Monday, November 19, 2018

Cross-Party Involvement in Presidential Nominations: 2020 Primary Calendar Scheduling

In the time since the midterms nearly two weeks ago, FHQ has been mulling over a morning after tweet from The National Journal's Hanna Trudo:
Yes, this is evidence of the Republican National Committee chipping away at a potential high-profile 2020 challenger to the sitting Republican president in a press release. That is not exactly uncommon. However, that email left me wondering about the extent to which either the RNC and/or the broader Republican Party would/will attempt to intervene in the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination and how overt those efforts might be.

After all, we seemingly are a long way from back channel comments attributed former President Bush about some of the candidates involved in the 2008 cycle. But that was more commentary than outright attempt to intervene. And Republicans had their own active nomination race that cycle anyway.

Yet, typically, parties will keep the other party's process at arms length. Sure, press releases and mass emails are always going to be a part of this exchange in the open market of the battle between parties. But as is our wont here at FHQ, we tend to put these things in the context of the mechanics of presidential nominations. And that is what I turned to upon reading Trudo's tweet.

Often we think of partisan actors in elective office behaving in a manner to best advantage their party's interests (if not the party). Think in particular about the lengths to which actors on the state legislative level have sought to position their presidential primaries in calendar positions over the years to have some impact on the presidential nomination process in their own party.

Southern Democratic leaders, for example, famously pined for a process that would yield a southern moderate-to-conservative nominee throughout the two cycles in the 1970s and into the 1980s. The idea was that that type of nominee would stand a better chance at winning a general election. And the stars aligned in 1988, at least procedurally. Fourteen southern states -- headed by Democratic-controlled state governments -- shifted to and coalesced on the second Tuesday in March; just on the heels of the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary.

Sometimes, however, the best laid plans go awry. And that was the case for southern Democrats in the 1988 cycle. Try as they might, the plan did not work. Rather than speaking with one regional voice, the results across the South were split on the Democratic side. Dukakis won the big states (Florida and Texas), Jackson the Deep South, and Gore the peripheral South. The plan backfired.

But what can be gleaned from that is how state actors have typically approached the calendar scheduling part of this process: To the extent they sough to have influence, it was either to give voters a larger voice in the process (by moving earlier) or to influence who the nominee was in the party of legislators making the decisions.

In other words, the impact was to be an intra-party positive for some candidate (favorite son) or some faction within the broader party coalition.

Yet, this logic was turned on its head in the 2012 cycle. No longer was the motivation for states to move forward on the calendar to have some positive impact. Instead, the negative incentive in the form of (flawed) national party penalties was to push states back in the process in an effort to create a later start to primary season, one not bumping up against the New Year's festivities.

States retained the ability to cluster on the earliest -- although theoretically later compared to 2008 -- date, but all of those February 2008 states shifted in a seemingly partisan manner. Those with Republican-controlled state governments tended to move their presidential primaries back less than those in Democratic-controlled states. And there was at least some (anecdotal) evidence that the Democratic side of the equation was a concerted effort; to shift more liberal states later in the process to draw out and stir up a hypothetical race that foresaw a Mitt Romney nomination. Now, the logic underlying that effort can certainly be questioned -- liberal states in the aggregate do not necessarily have moderate-to-liberal Republican primary electorates -- but the intervention is there.

And that is where at least some of the focus should be heading into 2019: how will states shift around on the 2020 calendar? Much of the spotlight has been on the impact the re-positioning of the California presidential primary will have on the Democratic nomination process. That is not wrong. It is a noteworthy shift. But it leans on a logic rooted in the past: partisan actors (Democrats in California) making positive, partisan decisions (to move the primary in the Golden state up).

How much can we expect Republican actors to act? Will Republican-controlled states sit idly by and maintain early calendar positions? Or will Republican states, say those involved in the SEC primary from 2016, proactively move to another position so as to have some impact on the Democratic nomination process? Those southern states moving back would mean the shift of an important bloc in the Democratic primary electorate: African Americans.

There are no clear answers to these questions at this point, but 2019 will begin to offer them as state legislatures begin to convene for their 2019 sessions and begin to weigh primary calendar moves.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Florida Primary: Are Governor Scott and the GOP Leadership in the General Assembly Really "At Odds"?

In the wake of Democratic state legislators filing bills in the Florida General Assembly to move the Sunshine state's presidential primary from January back to March, there has been quite a bit of chatter in the Florida press about "battles brewing" and "lines forming" over when the primary should be held. The fight being portrayed, though, misses the point and actually mischaracterizes the parties involved.

The true dividing line on this issue is not, as it seems to be in some of the Florida press, an intra-party struggle within the Republican-controlled state government, but rather a inter-party battle between those same Republicans in control and the minority party Democrats without a contested presidential nomination race. There has been a fair amount of talk about the bills being offered by Democrats to move the primary back into compliance and about the Florida Democratic Party's chair calling for a later date.* But that angle has taken a backseat to the supposedly looming intra-party battle among Republicans.

Look, there may yet be a contentious debate over whether Florida should assert itself and maintain an early, non-compliant primary date or tow the national party line and move back. There are obvious pros and cons either way: go early and take a penalty (one that may not be enforced at the convention) or go later and with many other states and have less influence (while maintaining a full slate of delegates). But it isn't apparent to me that there either is or will definitely be a battle on this issue -- not during this legislative session at least.

Let's look a bit more closely at these "battle lines". First off, the Republican leadership in the House and Senate appears to be supportive of maintaining the January primary.

President of the Senate Mike Haridopolos: "I happen to think the position we're in right now is the correct one. We're going to most likely decide who the next president of the United States is. I think it'd make sense if we did it early in the process."

Speaker of the House Dean Cannon: "I think the earlier we are, the more relevant we are as a national voice. I think the members of the House will be reluctant to move it all the way forward. Again, I'm not taking any hard and fast position, but I certainly favoring [sic] leaving it early as a general principle."

There's some wiggle room there for both, but both seem to support the idea of leaving the presidential primary where it is.

What about the other side of this brewing showdown? Rick Scott has maintained a fairly consistent albeit ambiguous line. In the governor's comments after speaking with RNC chair, Reince Priebus, and in more recently, he has essentially said that Florida should go as early as it can without losing any delegates. That doesn't really tell us anything other than the governor is trying to tread the fine line between what the national party wants and what may be best on the state level (Florida influencing the ultimate identity of the Republican nominee.). In other words, I don't see Scott bringing any real pressure to the table to get legislators to do what the national party desires. Not at this time anyway.

I don't really see that happening in the future either. And I think that simply because this whole discussion of a brewing fight amongst Republicans in Florida on this issue ignores one concrete fact: the governor will likely stay out of the discussion in any direct way unless and until a bill to change the date of the primary lands on his desk. To the extent there will be a debate on this issue, it will take place in the legislature and the leadership seems inclined to potentially bottle these bills up in committee to keep the primary where it is.

Republican legislators may be gambling on this, but it is a calculated gamble. They are betting that, though the national party may complain about a non-compliant primary, they will eventually cave before the convention and reinstate all of the the delegates as they have done in the past. You will also hear some talk about Florida having to switch to a proportional allocation of delegates because of a change in Republican Party rules -- and I don't expect any fight there -- but that will happen whether they have a primary in January or March. The real issue is whether there will be a full Florida delegation in the event of a January primary. If Republicans in the state legislature do nothing and leave the primary where it is, they are operating under the assumption that the national party will yield to Florida in the interest of demonstrating national party unity to the American people at the Tampa convention. Any and all divisiveness will be tamped down or eliminated altogether.

So battle lines? What battle lines? If there are any, they are where they have been since Florida moved in 2007: between the state parties/governments and the national parties. That there is any imminent battle looming among Republicans in Florida has yet to manifest itself in any measurable way in my eyes.

*According to Rule 20.C.7 of the 2012 Democratic Delegate Selection Rules, the state party has make at least some effort to change the date through the legislature if it wants to have any chance of a waiver to hold an early primary or assistance from the national party in holding an alternate contest.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Impact of 2010 State Governmental Elections on Frontloading: Part Two

Yesterday's post on the prevalence of unified government in state governments following the 2010 elections set the stage for a further examination of the influence that will have on the likelihood of proposed bills that may shift the dates on which presidential primaries and caucuses will be held. Now, there are a fair number of factors that come into play in the frontloading decision-making calculus of any state legislature (or ultimately the state government). For the time being, FHQ will focus on a handful of them.

First, presidential incumbency matters. I found as much in my research [pdf]. Over the 1976-2008 period, those cycles without an incumbent president on the ballot were three times less likely to witness widespread primary movement than in those cycles where both parties had contested nominations. 2012 will be one of those cycles with an incumbent president on the ballot.

What that tells us is that there is potentially a partisan element to all of this. As Philip Klinkner (1994) found in his book on out party committee activity, those parties currently out of the White House are more likely to tinker with their rules -- as a means of shuffling the deck and potentially increasing their likelihood of success -- than those that occupy the White House. In other words, in this cycle we would expect to see the Republicans being less content with the status quo and thus more likely to alter their rules in some fashion. While the Republican Party did allow rules changes (or the exploration of that possibility) outside of the national convention for the first -- a process that led to the adoption of rules requiring states to proportionally allocate delegates in the event a contest is held prior to April -- that effort is not really the point for our purposes here. Instead, we are looking at the secondary actors here: the state governments. To what level are the states willing to, within those rules, make changes to their election laws to impact their influence over the nomination process? When it comes to frontloading, that is the important question to ask. All things equal, the expectation would be that Republican-controlled governments would be more likely frontload than Democratic-controlled state governments.

2012 is a weird cycle, though. After having allowed February primaries, both national parties are now seeking to scale things back in 2012 and are mandating March or later primary and caucus dates for non-exempt states. For the first time, then, the parties are attempting to force states to backload as opposed to allowing them to frontload to a certain point in the past.

That leaves those 18 states currently in violation (see map below) of the national parties' delegate selection rules firmly within the crosshairs. Each has to move back to a later, compliant date or they face the delegation-reducing sanctions both parties are employing. [For the time being, I'll shunt my thoughts on the effectiveness of those sanctions to the side.]

[Click to Enlarge]

Those 18 states are either the states most likely to move into compliance or the most likely to thumb their noses at the national party rules in an attempt to influence the nominations. And that brings us full circle. Democratic-controlled state governments (of those 18 states) would tend to fall into the former group while Republican-controlled state governments would be more likely to tempt fate and stick it out despite the looming spectre of sanctions. Two Democratic-controlled states (Arkansas and Illinois) in the last legislative session moved to later dates and a third, California (a newly unified Democratic state government), has a proposal to move its primary back to a later date on the 2012 presidential primary calendar.

[Click to Enlarge]

You can begin to see the possible impact here as highlighted by the map above (especially when combined with the partisan maps from part one). The unified state governments would hypothetically be more likely to see some action if they were under Democratic control than if they were under Republican control (seeking greater influence over the nomination) or in the midst of divided control (unable to move into compliance with either national party's delegate selection rules). In other words, there is not only a line between unified and divided state governments, but between states with unified Democratic control and unified Republican control. States like California are more likely to move back, but are unified Republican states like Florida or Georgia more or less likely to move back than states like New York or Missouri with divided government? That will be something for those of us watching to keep our eye on.

The problem with focusing on the states in violation of the national party rules is that it completely disregards states -- particularly unified states -- that are currently compliant but may move to an earlier date valuing influence over the potential costs to their national delegations. Here's where that Texas bill comes into the picture.

[Click to Enlarge]

There are obviously states with unified control that may opt to move into violation of the national parties as well. But those states are much more likely to be Republican-controlled than otherwise. Pennsylvania, a state long divided between the parties and incidentally enough unable to move out of April during the post-reform period, may be worth watching along with Texas since both are Republican-controlled.

The point to take home is that while there may be some states that stick it out with primary dates in violation of the national party rules, there will also be far less movement forward than in the past. There will be movement backward, but much of that will likely depend on the presence of unified government in the state and which party is in control.

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Impact of 2010 State Governmental Elections on Frontloading: Part One

On Monday, FHQ posted a chronological list of the start dates for all 50 state legislative sessions. Now, from that calendar several factors, as discussed there, could be gleaned that could impact the evolution of the 2012 presidential primary calendar. However, it was only intended as the opening of an incremental assessment of the state of play in the calendar maneuvering that will take place throughout 2011. State legislatures are very much at the nexus of this decision in a majority of states -- those with primaries. As such the partisan composition of those state legislatures is an important point of departure.

The Republican wave that swept over the 111th Congress grabbed a majority of the headlines as did some of the wins the party saw in gubernatorial races. Yet, those GOP advances stretched down-ballot to state legislatures as well. Nationwide that translated into a gain of more than 675 seats across all state legislatures according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Before I get too far into this first step look into the post-2010 partisan composition of state legislatures, or more to the point, whether there is unified or divided government on the state level, I should note that this is but one of many factors that plays a role in determining if a state ultimately opts to shift the date on which its presidential primary is held. In the models I ran in my dissertation research [pdf], I repeatedly found that structural factors had a greater influence a state's propensity to frontload in the 1976-2008 period than what I deemed political factors. In other words, matters such as whether a state held its presidential primary concurrently with its primaries for state and local offices was of greater import than divided government. It should be noted that another political factor, the presence of an incumbent president running for reelection, had a larger impact than either a divided state government (legislature and governor) or a divided legislature. The theory behind all of this is that rationally acting decision makers would utilize a cost/benefit analysis when deciding whether to frontload their primary. Those state-level decision makers with less structural, political, economic and cultural impediments standing in the way of the decision were found to be more likely to have shifted their primary (or caucus) over the period mentioned above.

While inter-chamber partisan division within a legislature would hypothetically serve as a deterrent to frontloading, it was never the statistically significant factor that inter-branch partisan division (between the executive and legislative branches) consistently proved to be.

That said, what impact did the 2010 Republican wave have on the presence of unified or divided government? First, it is instructive to examine the executive and legislative chamber flips in partisan control during the 2010 elections.

[Click to Enlarge]

Understandably, this is a map that trends red, but only shows two instances (Maine and Wisconsin) where the Republican Party gained control of the executive branch and both the upper and lower chambers of the legislature. Overall, the map does not tell us much more than the map the National Conference of State Legislatures provides other than the fact that it adds gubernatorial gains to the equation. But let's add in a map that shows the prevalence of unified government and then create a hybrid of the two that demonstrates not only the presence of Republican-controlled unified government, but the gains made on that front during 2010.

[Click to Enlarge]

Again, this second map shows us the extent to which unified government extended following the 2010 elections. On the surface, the midterms proved to be a boon to Republican fortunes nearly nationwide. It would, theoretically, have an impact not only on frontloading but on redistricting as well. Unified Republican-control on the state level translates into fewer hurdles between a party making congressional seat gains through redistricting or making an advantageous move of a primary ahead of a presidential nomination cycle that will only see a competitive Republican race.

But what was the impact of 2010?

[Click to Enlarge]

Well, the state that already had unified government prior to 2010 are shaded in either dark red or blue. The gains in unified control by either party are in the lighter shades. If we were a truly enterprising blog, FHQ would go ahead an layer in the new electoral college map as a means of discerning the states where unified control was established and where redistricting will have to take place. Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania are the big ones on that front and sadly for the Democratic Party, California is neither redistricted by its state legislature nor did it gain any seats in the latest reapportionment. Redistricting aside, however, this series of maps does set the stage for an examination of how the partisan shifts in control at the state level will potentially impact the frontloading process during the 2011 state legislative sessions.

With so many states now under unified Republican control and with the Republican nomination being the only contested race, the potential exists for quite a lot of primary movement. But FHQ will delve into that tomorrow with a wider discussion of other factors that could influence state legislative decision making in terms of presidential primary timing.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Speak of the Devil: The Texas Two-Step in Court

...and this is something that the Democratic Change Commission will want to consider if the primary/caucus system in Texas comes up in the discussion at its meeting tomorrow in St. Louis. It is even more interesting because this is bound to come up in the session.

Earlier this week, the US District Court covering West Texas denied the Texas Democratic Party's request for a summary ruling in a case involving the pre-2008 changes to its method of delegate selection. [Here is the full ruling.] The case revolves around a challenge to the Texas Two-Step (primary-caucus combination) on the grounds that it violates the preclearance provisions laid forth in Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Honestly this is a very clever way of challenging the system. What is Section 5, you ask? According to DOJ:
"Under Section 5, any change with respect to voting in a covered jurisdiction -- or any political subunit within it -- cannot legally be enforced unless and until the jurisdiction first obtains the requisite determination by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia or makes a submission to the Attorney General. This requires proof that the proposed voting change does not deny or abridge the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group. If the jurisdiction is unable to prove the absence of such discrimination, the District Court denies the requested judgment, or in the case of administrative submissions, the Attorney General objects to the change, and it remains legally unenforceable."
Most of the jurisdictions covered are in the states of the former Confederacy and as the map below (also from DOJ) indicates, Texas is on the list. The catch is that Section 5 typically applies to election procedures for general elections and primaries for state and local offices, not to presidential nomination races. It is a logical extension though.

[Click to Enlarge]

As I mentioned the other day, delegate selection plans are submitted by each state to the (national) Democratic Party for approval, but these have not been the subject of a Section 5 preclearance review in the past. Though, it may be a logical extension of the law, it has, to this point at least, been assumed that the national parties held the right to make the determination of what was admissible in terms of presidential delegate selection on a state by state basis.

And the Democratic Party has been approving the Texas Two-Step for years. This isn't a new conflict. In 1988, for instance, Michael Dukakis won the Texas primary and Jesse Jackson won the caucus (There's more about that here.), only there wasn't nearly as much resulting tension as there was between the two main candidates in 2008. Also lacking in 1988 was the fact that less inclusive segment of the plan (the caucus) overturned the results from the more inclusive other segment (the primary). But the thing about the American legal system is that it is not proactive. The legality of something has to be challenged for it to even make its way into the judicial system to be questioned.

However, it isn't really the Texas Two-Step that is being questioned here, but the delegate equation behind it. Specifically, that past voting for the Democratic Party candidate in a statewide campaign in jurisdictions would determine the strength of that jurisdiction in terms of delegates. That's nothing new. In fact, past voting history and population are used by the national party to determine how many delegates each state gets. And the states, in turn use a similar formula to allocate them on their level.

However, the plaintiffs in the Texas case are arguing that the support of 2006 Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Chris Bell, had the effect of undervaluing Latino voters in state Senatorial districts (the jurisdictions in question. Texas used Senatorial districts whereas most of states divvy up delegates across US House districts.). The problem was that the Texas Democratic Party's formula used raw vote totals instead of the percentage of the vote in Senatorial districts. In essence, even though majority white districts provided Bell with more total votes than some majority Latino districts, they were allocated more delegates despite the fact that the percentage of support for Bell in Latinos districts was higher. When population of the district was accounted for, then, those districts were diminished in value.

So while I'm tempted to use the court's words* against it (This is a minute detail.), it is a fairly consequential statistical blunder in my view whether it was intentional or not. The type of snafu that will get you taken to court.

This is very interesting stuff and something that the Democrats at the Change Commission meeting tomorrow would be well-advised to consider if the Texas Two-Step comes up (or even if it doesn't).

*"Our decision does not mean that political parties must preclear every minute change in their operating procedures. Instead, we closely follow Morse in concluding that political parties must seek preclearance for a change that affects voting that the party promulgates under the explicit or implicit authority of a covered jurisdiction and that presents no significant First Amendment concerns. We therefore hold that Morse controls, that the TDP has provided no specific explanation as to how a requirement that it preclear its delegate allocation formula impacts its associational freedoms, and that this case is justiciable. Accordingly, we DENY the TDP's motion for summary judgment." [from the ruling linked above]

A tip of the cap to Ballot Access News for the link.

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