Tuesday, April 21, 2015

March 15 Presidential Primary Bill Moves Forward in Ohio on Party-Line Committee Vote

Following a public hearing a week ago, the Ohio state House Government Accountability and Operations Committee considered and voted on HB 153 today, Tuesday, April 21. That is the legislation that would push the presidential primary in the Buckeye state back a week to March 15. The move according to sponsor, Rep. Mike Dovilla (R-7th, Berea), would allow Ohio Republicans to hold their primary on the earliest date that the Republican National Committee rules allow a state to go with a delegate allocation plan that is not proportional.

In the past Ohio Republicans have utilized a winner-take-most (or winner-take-all by congressional district) delegate allocation plan. The party broke with that practice during the 2012 cycle. To remain compliant under the 2012 RNC rules, on the March 6 primary date, the Ohio Republican Party adopted a plan that was proportional. It remains to be seen whether the Republican Party in the Buckeye state will revert to the traditional winner-take-most plan or a truly winner-take-all method.1

In Dovilla's words, the move to March 15 would allow a less proportional contest that would "increase the amount of attention presidential candidates pay to the Buckeye State in the nominating process." Democrats on the committee, wanting to maximize the voice of Democratic voters in the Buckeye state proposed scheduling the presidential primary for May 3. That would place the primary at a point on the calendar outside of the proportionality window for Ohio Republicans, but also in "stage III" of the Democratic calendar. Primaries and caucuses scheduled from May 1-June 14 -- stage III -- would receive a 20% boost to their delegations. That would increase Ohioans voices in the Democratic nomination process.

Basically, both parties would theoretically get something out of the later primary.

Though that issue was raised by committee Democrats in the public hearing a week ago and in the committee proceedings today, the Republican-controlled committee tabled the May 3 proposal and passed the bill as is -- with the March 15 date -- in a vote along party lines. Republicans in control of the committee obviously valued the earlier/March date over the later/May primary date. The odds that the Republican nomination will still be active in mid-March is greater than in early May. Republicans on the committee were not willing to gamble on a later date.

HB 153 now moves to the House floor for the consideration of the full chamber.

1 The sponsor's testimony is not conclusive on that point. The motivation behind the bill is to "avoid effectively having 16 proportional contests for delegates within our congressional districts". Whether that means 16 winner-take-all contests in the congressional districts or one statewide vote to determine the allocation of all delegates is not clear. Traditional practice would seem to point toward the former, the winner-take-most option.

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What the AP Gets Wrong About the North Carolina Presidential Primary Situation

Kudos to Gary Robertson -- the AP's Raleigh reporter -- for touching base with FHQ on this. They have revised the article cited below.

Let's take a moment to fact check one bit of background information that found its way into an Associated Press news blurb about the North Carolina state House Elections Committee considering legislation to change the date of the presidential primary in the Tar Heel state.
A state law passed in 2013 moved the primary from May to February. National Republicans have since told states not to hold primaries in February to avoid interfering with primary contests in four traditionally early states, including South Carolina. [Emphasis FHQ's]
I'm sorry, but this is misleading. Yes, the Republican National Committee has certainly been telling North Carolina and any other state that February is a period on the presidential primary that is reserved for the four carve-out states; Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. But the implication is that there is a timeline here. North Carolina provocatively moved its primary to a non-compliant position on the 2016 presidential primary calendar and the RNC reacted.

That is true. However, it leaves off one very important part of the timeline: That the RNC had rules and penalties with regard to state behavior for the 2016 presidential nomination cycle in place coming out of the August 2012 national convention in Tampa. North Carolina legislators acted in 2013 despite that or blissfully ignorant of those penalties.

This is not the first instance in which this has come up. FHQ has addressed this before:
Rucho mentions in Wollner's piece that the RNC created an arbitrary rule -- the super penalty -- after the North Carolina primary law was changed. However arbitrary that rule may or may not be, it was in place before the North Carolina presidential primary law was altered in 2013, anchoring the contest to South Carolina's. The late Bob Bennett, former chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, devised the more severe penalty -- often called the Bennett Rule in RNC circles -- and saw it passed with the rules package for 2016 at the Tampa convention in 2012. That clearly precedes the late addition of the presidential primary amendment to the 2013 omnibus elections bill that passed through the General Assembly in the waning moments of a special session. The potential run-in with the Bennett Rule/super penalty was something that FHQ raised immediately upon hearing that the North Carolina primary could change positions in July 2013.
The AP seems to have bought the contention from North Carolina state Senator Bob Rucho (R-39th, Mecklenburg) that the RNC created the penalties after North Carolina moved its primary. That is false. The penalties were in place prior to the action from the North Carolina General Assembly. The AP should report that.

...or at least make clearer that North Carolina acted in 2013 in defiance of RNC rules for 2016 that were already in place.

That is kind of an important part of this discussion.

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Texas Bill to Move Presidential Primary to January About "Show[ing] Some Texas Bravado"

The legislation introduced earlier this year in the Texas state House to move the presidential primary (and all the others tethered to it) from March to the end of January had its day in committee on Monday, April 20. Rep. Lyle Larson (R-122nd, San Antonio) introduced HB 1214 before the House Elections Committee by making a case that has been heard in state legislatures for years. Basically, why Iowa and New Hampshire and not ________? For Larson, the blank today was filled with Texas.

After urging legislators on the committee to "stand up and show some Texas bravado" to challenge the national party, the floor was yielded to those who wanted to speak for or against the proposed primary. No one who spoke backed the bill, but the bill's new co-sponsor, Rep. Mike Schofield (R-132nd, Houston), who sits on the Elections Committee was quick to echo Larson's sentiments as representatives from the Republican Party of Texas, the Texas Democratic Party and the Texas Republican County Chairmen's Association all testified against HB 1214, citing the national party rules and the penalties associated with violations.

FHQ watches a lot of these committee hearings. Some are thoughtful discussions on shifting around presidential primaries on the calendar to maximize a state's role in the nomination process. Others, however, are less about strategically positioning a state and more about attempting to assert a new primary order with ________ at the front of the queue. This hearing fell into the latter category.

And that tends to happen when the question is "How can the Republican National Committee tells us what to do about our primary in ________?" That was the question that Rep. Schofield kept coming back to in various forms. And no one who spoke against the bill could adequately voice one simple truth. It is a bitter pill for some to swallow, but the national parties can dictate who goes where on the calendar -- or that Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina can go first -- and threaten rules-breakers with penalties because it is their party's nomination. The national party decides the rules. The RNC likes what it called during the rollout of its Growth and Opportunity Project (autopsy) Report the "on-ramp" that the first four states offer the process. They make possible a type of retail politics that is not replicable (or possible) in a large state like Texas, where reaching all those people across all that geography would advantage the monied haves over the have not candidates.

Perhaps that is just another way of saying rules are rules. That was said by both Republicans who testified against the bill. But that did not satisfy Schofield who wanted to know why more of a fight was waged by Texans against the Republican National Committee and its proposed rules at the 2012 convention. Well, it was. But those Texans were not fighting to get Texas to the front of the primary queue as Schofield wants. They were fighting against a rules package perceived to advantage the establishment of the Republican Party. The Iowa/New Hampshire question was not really dealt with, not in a heated way anyway. And while there was vocal opposition to some of the subsequent rules changes made at RNC meetings in 2013 and 2014, it was only a very loud and very small minority. Each time the RNC made a rules change, the rules were agreed to nearly unanimously in the Rules Committee and then again by the full RNC. And never was the idea of removing the carve-out states raised.

It is not controversial at the RNC, or if it is, it is a quiet controversy.

None of that is either here or there. The real problem here is the legislation that Larson and Schofield have brought before the Texas legislature. The intention of the bill is to move the Texas presidential primary from the first Tuesday in March to the last Tuesday in January. The bill and the sponsors behind it wrongly assume that such a move will make Texas first. It won't.

As FHQ said in an earlier post about HB 1214:
This is the same position the Florida presidential primary was set on in both 2008 and 2012. The difference is that while Florida moved into the fifth position on the calendar and lost half of its delegates during the last two presidential election cycles, Texas would move from the shared fifth position it enjoys now on March 1 -- assuming all other states comply with national party rules -- to the fifth position alone on the calendar at the end of January and have its delegation reduced to just 12 delegates (nine delegates plus the three RNC members from Texas).
Yes, Texas would still be fifth because Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina would leapfrog the Lone Star state, moving to earlier dates in January.1 Those four are much better able to move their delegate selection events around than a state whose legislature adjourns in June and could not respond to the eventual leapfrog.

But they would be all alone on January 26 with 12 delegates. Perhaps candidates would venture into Texas to battle over 12 delegates if it was the last contest before a month-long layoff during February, but it would be a strange primary with an asterisk by it. Candidates would go for a win, and that is really what Larson and Schofield are arguing: that this is about Texas being first (or somewhere closer to first) and that the delegates don't matter. Maybe, but the candidates would rather have a proportional share of 155 delegates than a proportional share of 12 delegates. But perhaps they would take a win in a neutered Texas primary.

1 And all four would do so without penalty. The Democrats have not punished any of the first four states in the last two cycles despite the fact that the DNC delegate selection rules specify very clear dates for all four contests. For Republicans, the rules allow the carve-out states the ability to hold contests up to a month before the next earliest contest without penalty. If Texas were to hold a January 26 primary, then the four privileged states would basically have a window from Christmas 2015 to January 26, 2016 to schedule their contests. Again, without penalty.

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The 2016 Washington State Presidential Primary May Be Headed for the Exits

In a not-all-that-unexpected move, the Washington state Democratic Party voted this past weekend at its state central committee meeting to select and allocated delegates to the 2016 national convention through a caucuses/convention system. The party had already telegraphed the move with the earlier release of its draft 2016 delegate selection plan.

With Washington Democrats set to hold caucuses in 2016, it does seemingly spell doom for legislation that has been working its way through the Washington state legislature this winter/spring. As it stands now, state law calls for a Washington presidential primary in May of any presidential election year. However, legislation (SB 5978) that has already passed the Republican-controlled state Senate in Washington calls not only for moving the date up to March, but also for the state parties to allocate some of their delegates based on the results of the primary election. Without buy-in from both parties, the primary would still be held but with all candidates from both parties listed together on the primary ballot.

With state Democrats shunning the presidential primary, the latter option would be the only available option for both parties. That would likely push Republicans to a caucuses/convention system as well and leave a high price tag on a meaningless beauty contest for the state.

That writing now appears to be on the wall and state legislators have responded. In a public hearing on the by Senate-passed bill this morning -- Monday, April 20 -- the House Committee on Appropriations introduced an amendment to require the parties to allocate at least 75% of their delegates via the primary. But if both parties did not opt into a the primary under those criteria, then the primary would be cancelled.1

This is good legislating. It provides the state parties with a primary option, albeit with contingencies, but automatically cancels the primary if both parties (or just one really) choose to go the caucuses route. That saves legislators the trouble of revisiting the cancelation of the primary every four years. If both parties do not opt in the cancelation would be automatically triggered.

The primary would remain in May, but the secretary of state would retain the option of selecting/proposing an earlier date for the election that is in the current law. In reality, if the law is changed, it puts the decision-making power in the hands of state Democrats. The party has traditionally held caucuses instead of using the primary. If the party were to continue that practice in the future it would in effect cancel the primary each time.

Now, it should be mentioned that the amendment was merely offered today. The House Appropriations Committee did not vote on it much less send it off to the floor of the Democratic-controlled lower chamber. Even if the bill made it through those two steps (a likely outcome given that state Democrats have chosen caucuses), it would have to return to the Republican-controlled Senate. The upper chamber would have to concur with those changes to send the amended bill on. Republicans may balk at that in the upper chamber. However, their choices would be meaningless primary with an $11.5 million price tag or save the money and let the state Republican Party use the same caucuses/convention process it used in 2012 when the Washington presidential primary was cancelled.

In other words, Republicans' hands are kind of tied on this one. Even Secretary of State Kim Wyman admitted in public testimony today that she would opt for the cost savings if the primary is going to be meaningless. Time will tell if the bill moves on in its amended form and if Senate Republicans agree with her.

1 That amendment was brought by committee chairman, Rep. Ross Hunter (D-48th, Bellvue).

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Ability to Pick Winners Is Not the Best Way to Determine Presidential Caucuses Are Bad

FHQ just cannot buy the contention that presidential primaries are better than caucuses because the former is better at picking eventual nominees than the latter. Philip Bump makes that argument at The Fix today, but come on. First, there are way better arguments that can be made against caucuses. [FHQ remains agnostic. Parties control these nominations and some state parties simply prefer caucuses to a primary.]

Secondly, however, there is a very good institutional reason that primaries are "better" at picking winners/eventual nominees than caucuses. Well, actually there are two related factors. For starters, there are about triple the number of presidential primaries as there are caucuses. And a pretty significant number of those primary states occupy the very end of the primary calendar. That tends to be the point in the process when either the field has been winnowed down to two viable candidates or one very nearly presumptive nominee and a protest candidate (see Ron Paul's routine ~20% of the vote in May and June contests in 2012). That makes it a lot easier to pick a winner. Actually that make it a lot easier to pick the winner when voters in a late primary state already know who that nominee will be.

Well, aren't there later caucuses?

No, not really. From a logistical standpoint, caucuses have to be early in the process. The precinct caucuses are but the first step in a caucuses/convention process that plays out -- with some variation -- across states. In some caucuses states like Iowa, the process is ongoing the entire primary season. In others, like North Dakota, the steps from caucuses to state convention have taken as little as approximately a month.

But if all the caucuses states are regularly occurring in (February sometimes and) March and April (in the 1976-2012 period), then they would have a wider field of candidates from which to choose. Meanwhile, the straggling primaries in May and June (like Oregon) help bring up the winning percentage for primaries overall.

Remove those and FHQ will bet that the "winning percentage" for primaries drops to around the same level as caucuses or at least to a pretty negligible difference.

Lower turnout, time commitments. Those are good criticisms of caucuses. Ability to pick a nominee is not.

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Republican Proportionality Rules Changes for 2016, Part Three

The Myth of Winner-Take-All
FHQ spent considerable time during the back half of 2011 and into primary season in 2012 arguing/demonstrating that the then-new proportionality requirement the Republican National Committee had added to its delegate selection rules just would not and did not have the type of effect many anticipated. Most state Republican parties did not fundamentally alter the way in which they were allocating delegates to the national convention. Instead those state parties in most cases tweaked their earlier/traditional plans just enough to fit the new rules. The effects were minimal.

The 2016 presidential nomination cycle offers another national party change to the parameters of the proportionality requirement. FHQ detailed those changes in part one of this series and then examined the possible implications of those changes in part two.

Yet, FHQ fears that focusing on the proportionality window primes readers to think only about the implications of the rules changes on contests within that period on the calendar. There will be primaries and caucuses after March 14, 2016, and there is already much discussion/speculation about how state Republican parties in states with contests after that date are adapting their rules. Too often, the assumption is that states after that point are or will be winner-take-all.

There is a reason FHQ referred to the phase starting on March 15 as the post-proportionality window part of the calendar in part two. While there is a requirement that states' delegate selection/allocation plans fit the RNC definition of proportionality, there is no similar requirement for winner-take-all allocation after that point. States, as FHQ argued in 2011-12, are free to choose whichever delegate selection method they wish to institute if they conduct a primary or caucuses after that March 14. Again, this is the way the relationship worked between the national and state parties for the whole calendar before 2012. States were able to choose from an array of options, and the RNC was more than willing to let them. As one RNC official told FHQ in 2012, "Let them [the states] figure it out."

That did not produce a calendar full of winner-take-all primaries and caucuses, though. In fact, in 2008, the last cycle in which states had total freedom to set delegate selection rules of their choosing (without oversight and regulation from the RNC), there were only 11 truly winner-take-all contests (where even if a candidate won a plurality of the vote by just one vote, that candidate would receive all of that state's delegates).

Given the change for 2012 -- adding the proportionality requirement -- the assumption seems to have been, "Well, if you have the option to be winner-take-all, why not be winner-take-all?" Only states with contests after March 31 (in 2012) were not lining up to actually switch to or maintain a winner-take-all method of allocation. Outside of rules breakers Florida and Arizona -- both were winner-take-all prior to April 1 during the 2012 cycle -- there were only four truly winner-take-all primaries: Washington (DC), Delaware, New Jersey and Utah. That is four out of 22 states with contests after April 1. Three of those 22 states -- Connecticut, New York and Texas1 -- actually transitioned from winner-take-all or winner-take most plans in 2008 to more proportional methods in 2012.

...after the point on the calendar when the proportionality window had closed.

The question that emerges from those example is why. Why would a state, given the winner-take-all option, not take advantage of it or actually transition away from it? There are a lot of reasons. FHQ will focus on the two main factors though. One is state law. A number of states added proportionality requirements to state law after the Democratic National Committee began its blanket proportionality mandate in the 1980s. Many Democratic-controlled state legislatures (of which there were many more than today) simply added that to the state statutes regarding presidential primaries. Many of those laws continue to be in place now. And they affect the Republican nomination process too. State Republican parties have to follow those laws also, in other words. North Carolina is a good example of this.

The second main factor that contributes to Republicans maintaining some allocation method other than a winner-take-all one (even after the proportionality window closes) is that not all Republican state parties are homogenous. Often there are factions in state parties. And those factions do not necessarily want to see a presidential candidate more representative of another faction make off with all the delegates from that state. To their way of thinking, that does not represent the diversity of voices within the state's Republican Party or primary electorate. It isn't fair.

Another way of saying this is that politics, internal party politics, often plays a role in determining the  method of delegate allocation that a state party chooses. Back in the fall of 2014 when Michigan Republicans were eyeing a March 15 primary date, this very sort of discussion occurred. Some within the party argued that a winner-take-all primary would maximize the influence of the Michigan Republican primary. Others argued that it was more important for the primary to more accurately reflect the choices of the voters. They opted for a compromise winner-take-most plan that was a middle ground between the two camps.2

The bottom line here is that despite the fact that the winner-take-all option is available, most Republican state parties do not actually adopt such allocation plans. Well, they have not in the past. That may change in 2016. There may be a rush to winner-take-all methods by states with primaries or caucuses after March 14 on the 2016 presidential primary calendar. The reality, though, is that state laws will preclude that in some cases. In some others, a heterogeneous state party apparatus will prevent such a change. That negative inertia within the state party tends to maintain the traditional method of allocation. No consensus means no change. This is something FHQ often chalks up to "tradition" in this space. It is more nuanced than that.

If one wants to project which Republican state parties will have a winner-take-all method of allocation after March 15, then look to the states that have some history of winner-take-all allocation. Arizona and Florida have that tradition and have moved their primaries to points on the calendar after March 14 to avoid the super penalty and protect that winner-take-all tradition.3 Missouri Republicans are also positioned at a point on the calendar that will allow them to return to the winner-take-all method the party used prior to 2012.

There is talk that Ohio Republicans are considering a winner-take-all plan. That explains some of the reasoning behind a new bill to push the presidential primary in the Buckeye state back a week to March 15. However, the tradition in Ohio is winner-take-most and not winner-take-all. That traditional winner-take-most (or winner-take-all by congressional district) plan would not be compliant under the RNC rules on March 8.

For now, however, there is no group of winner-take-all states massing on the border between the proportionality phase of the calendar and the post-proportionality part of the calendar. That all states or most of them will be winner-take-all when the clock strikes midnight on March 15 is a myth. Some of them will be. Others, most perhaps, will not be if history is our guide. Some will be winner-take-all, others will be proportional, and yet others will be winner-take-most. There is a subtle difference between proportional allocation and winner-take-most plans that typically yields very little difference in terms of the actual allocation (if one was traded out for the other). Multiple candidates tend to emerge with delegates in each. However -- and this is the take home point -- there is a big difference between truly winner-take-all plans and everything else.4 That is where the disconnect is in the discussion. The line of demarcation tends to be between proportional and every other method. That lumps winner-take-most plans in with winner-take-all plans.

That practice is not helpful. Winner-take-most plans are not winner-take-all plans. There needs to be a stronger effort to parse out this distinction rather than assuming there is not one. A winner-take-most state like California, where more than one candidate can earn delegates, should not be confused with or lumped into a group of winner-take-all states like Arizona, where only one candidate -- the statewide winner -- is eligible to receive delegates. That that distinction is often ignored is hurting our ability to talk accurately about the Republican presidential nomination process and how it is likely to progress in 2016.

1 Texas Republicans adopted a proportional delegate allocation plan in 2011 when it was assumed the party would have a first Tuesday in March primary. Disputes over redistricting pushed the Texas primary back to May 29, but the allocation method stayed proportional.

2 Now that Michigan will hold a March 8 primary, the delegate allocation plan Wolverine state Republicans will have to use will have to be more proportional in nature to meet the RNC requirements.

3 Florida Republicans' tradition with a truly winner-take-all method of delegate allocation is a recent one. As FHQ has explained, Florida traditionally had a winner-take-all by congressional district method of delegate allocation. That carried over into the party's rules for both 2008 and 2012. However, since Florida Republicans were penalized by the RNC for holding a primary before the period allowed, that triggered a truly winner-take-all allocation method. It remains to be seen whether the Republican Party of Florida will change its rules to accommodate a truly winner-take-all allocation or stick with its traditional winner-take-most plan. But the party will have to change its rules in order to implement the former.

4 This is why Democrats tend to freak out when Republican-controlled blue (presidential) states consider changing from a winner-take-all distribution of electoral college votes to something else. It represents a big change (on the state level).

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Coda on Mississippi and the SEC Primary or Sometimes Moving Up Isn't All It's Cracked Up to Be

FHQ has been meaning to get to Geoff Pender's autopsy of Mississippi's failed attempt to join the SEC primary all week. The crux of it that internal Republican politics played some role in dooming the legislation to move the presidential primary in the Magnolia state.

Though it is a fun read, FHQ is less interested in the rivalry between Mississippi Lieutenant Governor  Tate Reeves (R) and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann (R). What is of more use for our purposes here is the argument each is making either to move the presidential primary or to keep it where it is on March 8.

Hosemann, a proponent of Mississippi joining the SEC primary coalition made the case to Pender this way:
Hosemann says moving Mississippi's primary from March 8 to March 1 and joining with Georgia, Texas and other Southern states would force presidential candidates "to come to the South and to Mississippi and tell us their views" and listen to ours. 
He said it would also be an economic boon, forcing campaigns to hire staff, travel and buy advertising, food and accommodations.
That economic stimulus message is one that is being used in neighboring Alabama in its SEC primary discussion in the legislature.

But Reeves countered with this argument:
Reeves said Mississippi joining would have opposite the desired effect: Mississippi would be ignored in favor of the larger states. 
"Texas has more electoral votes in the San Antonio media market than we do in our entire state," Reeves said. "That's not including Dallas, Houston … same thing with Atlanta. Where do you think a candidate is going to go … if they have to choose between Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, Atlanta or Hattiesburg?" 
As it stands now, Reeves said, Louisiana's will be the Saturday before Mississippi's Tuesday primary and Florida's a week after. He said this is more likely to precipitate stops in Mississippi. 
Reeves noted that in 2012, GOP candidates Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum all campaigned in Mississippi despite its late primary. Romney notoriously said how much he liked Mississippi "cheesy grits."
That cheesy grits comment and more importantly the substance of the debate between Hosemann and Reeves were matters that FHQ discussed in depth back in December before the legislative season revved up. [Reeves and/or Pender must have done their homework. FHQ was not consulted as a part of Pender's piece.] Here's how I concluded that post, singling Alabama and Mississippi out:
That raises questions if not red flags for a move for 2016 for those latter couple of states. Does a move away from a date that still finds Alabama and Mississippi dominant and to a date shared by a number of larger southern states net more or fewer visits in 2016 over 2012? If Ohio vacates March 8 to join a later March midwestern primary protect a more winner-take-all allocation plan, would it not be more beneficial to stick with a date you dominate versus a date shared with others? Is a visit to Texas -- a regional visit -- the same as a candidate visit in Alabama or Mississippi? 
These are tough questions to answer for state actors who have a limited state legislative session window in which to act in the spring of the year before the primary. And these folks tend to be risk-averse. Alabama and Mississippi would only gain by sticking with a later date is the nomination races are ongoing once they get to the second Tuesday in March. The field may be winnowed too much by then dropping the number of visits to either. 
This is the mindset that has dominated the frontloading era. Move up or get left behind. But it isn't clear in this instance that states in the South will receive the attention they crave. In the meantime, decision makers in both Alabama and Mississippi seem to have forgotten what they gained in 2012 with their sub-regional coalition. Surely "cheesy grits" would have proven more memorable to elected officials in the Deep South. [Emphasis and edits are FHQ's.]
The skepticism of moving away from March 8 there echoes Reeves' (or vice versa). The benefits of moving to March 1 are not clear. There is more to this than merely earlier equals economic gains.

Some states value relevance in the presidential nomination process more than others. But if you are a state legislator or some other actor with a part to play in moving the date of a delegate selection event there is a great deal to weigh when making such a decision. Being relevant depends on a number of things for which decision-makers cannot account. One thing state-level actors can control is the date. The later a contest -- primary or caucuses -- is held, the more a state is gambling (on just how relevant the contest will be in the process). Again, that entails something like move up or get left behind.

If every state, or at least the majority that are/have been willing and able to move earlier on the calendar, then the outcome is the sort of Super Tuesday herding of contests typical of calendars like 2008 or 2000. That sort of logjam highlights the fact that all states are not equal when it comes to delegate-richness or ease and convenience of access (to the states) for candidates and the media. When given a choice, rationally-acting candidates tend to opt for bigger states over smaller states.

Yes, those campaigns are chasing delegates, but it is also true that there are only a finite number of candidate visits that can be paid to states. If the herding of contests is large enough, that forces candidates on the air in lieu of visits to some states, usually smaller ones. This is what makes the regional primary idea so attractive. It can somewhat circumvent that problem, offering a reduced geography (and a potential homogeneity of issues) to cover as a means of attracting visits and spending.

Yet, depending on which states are involved -- how much intra-regional herding is taking place -- the same dynamic as above may still play out but on a smaller scale. That is the argument being made by Reeves in and about Mississippi moving forward a week on the 2016 presidential primary calendar. The campaigns can see the delegates available. Do you go to Georgia that has just a handful of delegates fewer than Alabama and Mississippi combined or do you fit in trips to Alabama and Mississippi, too? Furthermore, is a visit to Georgia or Texas or Tennessee a regional visit, playing as well in Georgia (in person and in resulting news coverage) and Alabama and Mississippi? In other words, is a regional proxy visit enough?

What may be "good" for the campaigns may not end up paying the dividends that folks in Alabama or Arkansas or Mississippi think they will.

If I was advising Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi (and FHQ is not), I would suggest a two-tiered regional primary. Texas and Tennessee have already staked a claim to March 1. State laws in both have provided for those dates since the last presidential election cycle. Georgia will more than likely join them on March 1. Those three are the three most delegate-rich states on March 1. Let them have it. They are going to take the attention anyway.

Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi should form an SEC Light primary. Separate, they cannot curry much favor. The same is true if they were to share a date with the big boys on March 1. But if all three go together on a date a week later (March 8), that likely yields some attention from the candidates. Collectively, the three together would also be more delegate-rich than the states they would be competing with on March 8 (Idaho, Hawaii and Michigan). That two-tiered regional primary -- three tiers if one wants to consider the Louisiana primary scheduled between the two Tuesdays -- may serve to maximize regional influence, particularly if it solidifies/ratifies the decision made in those earlier southern contests. That, in turn, slingshots some candidate into the post-proportionality window part of the calendar (...or Florida) a week later on March 15.

Small states can only get so much out of this process. Not every state is Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. Given that reality, if you can't beat the big boys, go a week later (if the state's you'd be competing with are alone and geographically dispersed). That is the sweet spot that is available to Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi. But it only works if they are together. If Mississippi is the lone southern state on March 8, then Secretary Hosemann is probably right to be taken aback by Reeves' suggestion that Mississippi would fare better.

In truth, it probably would not matter much either way. Mississippi would be ignored.

...unless they had some regional partners.

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Republican Proportionality Rules Changes for 2016, Part Two

Earlier this week FHQ began an examination of Republican proportionality rules changes for the 2016 presidential election cycle. On the most basic level, the Republican National Committee 1) cut the proportionality window in half for 2016 as compared to 2012 and 2) narrowed its 2012 definition of what constitutes a proportional delegate selection event for the 2016 cycle. Theoretically, the former would cut down on the number of proportional states while the latter would increase that number.1

Having established that as a baseline understanding of the differences between the 2012 and 2016 rules, the focus can now turn to the implications of those changes. In other words, now that the RNC has changed the mandate on proportionality, how will the states and state parties adapt their 2012 delegate selection plans in order to remain compliant? Four years ago, after the RNC first introduced the proportionality requirement, most states took the path of least resistance. Assuming state Republican parties had a baseline/traditional method of allocating delegates to the national convention (and of binding those delegates based on the presidential preference expressed in the primaries and caucuses) in 2008, then in response, the majority of states made the smallest changes possible to remain rules-compliant in 2012.

Proportionality Tweaking
If states in 2015 follow the same pattern, the changes will be quite minimal. As FHQ said in part one, the Republican state parties would only have to very slightly turn the knob toward the more proportional requirement the national party put in place for this cycle. To get a better sense of this let's apply the 2016 proportionality rules to the states that held contests in the 2012 proportionality window.2 This will provide a glimpse, albeit an imperfect one, into just how large the effect of the 2016 rules changes would be. If those 16 2012 states in the proportionality window created delegate selection rules in line with the 2016 rules, only 28 delegates would have been reallocated based on the results of the 2012 contests.3 That is 28 delegates out of a possible 676 total delegates in those states; just 4% of those delegates and 2% of the 1144 needed to clinch the 2012 nomination would have been reallocated.

Just over half of those 28 were from two states: Alabama and Louisiana. The Alabama primary was so closely contested between Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum both statewide and in all seven congressional districts that, proportionally, each of the three candidates would have received a delegate from each of the seven congressional districts. The 2012 rules stipulated that the winning candidate in each congressional district should receive two delegates and the runner-up the remaining one delegate. That would have reallocated seven delegates.

In Louisiana, the state Republican Party devised rules designed to leave a number of the at-large delegates to be allocated in the primary uncommitted. Ten of the 25 at-large delegates ended up uncommitted/unbound which presumably would not be allowed under the 2016 RNC rules. Those delegates would have been proportionally allocated to Romney and Santorum.

That leaves just 11 delegates that would have changed hands in the remaining 14 2012 states if the 2016 proportionality rules had been in place. Mostly, that is due to the the fact that nine of those 14 states would have been compliant in 2012 under the 2016 rules. The dynamics will be different in 2016 than they were in 2012, but the above exercise does paint a picture of minimal effects from the proportionality changes for this current cycle.

One additional layer, where there may be some more tinkering in 2016 than there was in 2012, comes from the vote thresholds that allow candidates to either receive some delegates and/or all of the delegates in a state or district. Again, state parties can set a minimum threshold of 20% of the vote for candidates to receive any delegates from the statewide, at-large pool or in a congressional district. Additionally, the state parties can set a minimum threshold of 50% that, if a candidate won a majority of the vote statewide or in a district, that candidate would receive all of the delegates in the corresponding political unit.

States that moved more toward the proportional end of the spectrum in 2012 already mostly put thresholds of varying degrees in place (see Alabama and Mississippi). States like Ohio, which only proportionalized its at-large delegates in 2012 -- the bare-minimum action to achieve proportionality -- but left their congressional districts winner-take-all would have to make those districts proportional for 2016. Still, the rules provide a range for state parties. They can be truly proportional, where a candidate who receives 40% of the vote is allocated approximately 40% of the total pool of delegates (or delegates statewide or in a congressional district). Alternatively, states can institute a threshold up to 20% for candidates to be eligible to be allocated delegates. In other words, states are not required to have a threshold for delegate eligibility, but if they have one it cannot be set higher than 20%.

The same sort of dynamic works for the other threshold -- the winner-take-all threshold -- but in reverse. State parties do not have to put in place a percentage of the vote a candidate must win statewide or in a congressional district to receive all of the delegates in that unit, but if they do choose to put one in place, it can be no lower than 50%, a simple majority. Many states had 50% winner-take-all conditionality in 2012 (which was allowed even in the proportionality window). Ohio Republicans had such a threshold for their at-large delegates. Other states left out such a rider in their rules (see Massachusetts). Tennessee was the only state that had a threshold and set it anywhere other than 50%. For Tennessee to have been winner-take-all in 2012, a candidate would have to have won greater than 66% of the vote statewide and in each of the Volunteer state's nine congressional districts. That is a high bar to hit for winner-take-all to have been triggered.

Even though this could add to that variation, those thresholds -- both the 20% one and the 50% one -- were already built into the above simulation. Again, the changes in 2016 do not present fundamental, sweeping changes to how the delegates may be allocated in 2016.

2016 Conditions
Now, if you have read this far and are still awake, you may have thought, "Well sure, FHQ. It is easy to apply the 2016 rules to the 2012 environment, but the 2016 Republican nomination race will play out in the 2016 environment." FHQ agrees. That's why we said the earlier simulation was imperfect. It does shed some light on the limitations of rules changes, but only so much light.

So what's different about 2016?

Some might argue and indeed have argued that the 2016 Republican presidential nomination process is the most wide open a Republican nomination race has been in the post-reform era. Our measure of that is at a minimum the number of candidates who are thought to be considering a run. But better yet, the wide open race is a function of the number of potentially viable candidates who are included in that list.

Of course, there have been wide open Democratic races in the past waged under a stricter proportionality requirement that have resolved themselves in short order and certainly far short of a deadlocked convention. In the current part of the post-reform era, the earliest contests and now, even more so, the invisible primary winnow the field of candidates. The fewer candidates there are seriously competing for the nomination, the less influential proportionality rules (or proportionality rules changes) will matter, one could hypothesize.

Now, some of that winnowing effect could be countered by the raising and spending of larger amounts of money through and by super PACs. As the line from 2012 went -- and make no mistake its echoes are being heard in 2015 -- super PACs allow candidates to hang around longer. That could be. 2012 was not a good test of that hypothesis though. 2016 may be. But we'll have to wait for the data to come in.

But let's assume that a comparatively greater number of candidates with or without the help of super PACs successfully navigate and survive through Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada and make it to the proportionality window that opens on March 1. [REMINDER: The carve-out states are not affected by the proportionality rule. New Hampshire is proportional based on state law and Nevada was proportional in 2012. South Carolina is winner-take all by congressional district. The jury is still out on Iowa's Republican caucuses. The age of non-binding caucuses and fantasy delegates may be over.]

Furthermore, it is worth recalling, given the Iowa part of that reminder above, that there are no more non-binding caucuses.4 Adding those states to the proportional rolls, may also have some impact on all of this. FHQ would argue that that, too, will be minimal in nature. The real change there is that delegate processes essentially go from being unregulated in 2012 to regulated in 2016. That change takes the mystery out of the delegate count. It tamps down on chaos rather than adding on to it.

Assuming then that there are a greater number of viable candidates heading into a proportional phase of the process jam-packed with contests, what sorts of fun or interesting outcomes might the proportionality rules changes for 2016 produce?

One idea that has caught some traction is that if there are a lot of candidates alive as March 1 hits and state parties have instituted the highest possible threshold for receiving any delegates, then states could end up triggering a sort of backdoor winner-take-all allocation within the proportionality window.

Let me parse that out some. Say, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker all make it through to the proportionality phase. [See, I'll bet some of you are saying to yourselves that there's no way that happens. Good. I don't think so either. When was the last time six viable candidates made it through the first four contests (some of them without winning anything)? Bear with me here.] Let's also say that every state in the proportionality window has a 20% delegate threshold. If all six candidates are on equal footing in the race to that point, then mathematically, no one can get to 20% of the vote. But all of the candidates will probably not be at parity with each other at that point in the race. Perhaps, though, one candidate is at or above 20% in a contest or more. If only one candidate clears that 20% threshold statewide or in a congressional district, that candidate would receive all of the delegates.

To be quite plain, this scenario does not require six candidates to work. It could work with fewer candidates, but as candidates are dropped one-by-one, the chances of triggering this backdoor winner-take-all allocation decreases.

Look, this sort of thing is fun to consider, but let's be real about these proportionality rules changes the RNC has added for 2016. Compared to 2012, the effects are likely to be quite minimal even with a different environment. Before we fully come to that conclusion, there is still more more phase to consider: the part of the primary calendar after the proportionality window closes. That is earlier in 2016 than it was in 2012 and has already drawn a fair amount of commentary and speculation. Some if not a majority of that commentary is misguided. FHQ will focus on the winner-take-all myth in part three.

1 That hypothesis assumes that the presidential primary calendar remains static cycle over cycle. As this blog well establishes, that is a faulty assumption. In reality, it depends on how many states choose to wedge their contests into them two week proportionality window in 2016. At this point, though the states have changed, the number of states in that proportionality window looks as though it will be approximately the same as the number of primaries and caucuses in the month-long window in 2012.

2 This excludes the carve-out states as they are exempted from the proportionality requirement under the RNC delegate selection rules. FHQ will also exclude rogue states like Arizona, Florida and Michigan that ignored the proportionality rules in 2012 and skirted penalties in the process. The reasoning for their exclusion is twofold. First, all three fall outside of the proportionality window for 2016. Simulating their proportionalization is meaningless to 2016. Second, congressional district results from the 2012 primaries in those states were not readily available. Those data are necessary to reallocate the delegates under the 2016 rules. Finally, FHQ does not include in this exercise the caucuses states where there were no formal rules for delegate allocation in 2012. Drawing a comparison, then, would be quite difficult. Additionally, congressional district results were not available in most caucuses states even if there had been rules on allocation. Overall, that removes all of the 2012 caucuses states except Alaska, Idaho, Hawaii and Kansas.

3 Those 16 states are Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Kansas, Alabama, Hawaii, Mississippi, Louisiana (25 at-large delegates), Puerto Rico and Illinois.

4 FHQ has added those non-binding caucuses to the projected number of states in the proportionality window already. That is what helps push the number of 2016 contests in the proportionality window up to around the number in the month-long window in 2012.

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

SEC Primary Bill Halted in Arkansas

Resistance in the Arkansas state House to the creation of a separate presidential primary election has killed for now the effort in the Natural state to join the SEC primary. Michael R. Wickline at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette walks through the particulars:
Stubblefield said he withdrew his SB389 from further consideration in the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee in the waning days of this year's legislative session after it cleared the Senate on March 27. 
He said the House committee chairman Rep. Nate Bell, R-Mena, told him that he would kill the bill in the committee. 
Bell could not be reached for comment by telephone Monday afternoon or Tuesday. 
After Stubblefield introduced SB389 on Feb. 17, Bell tweeted "I oppose split primary" and "Will it be listed as donation to Huck?" -- an apparent reference to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who ran for the GOP nomination for president in 2008 and is considering doing so again in 2016.
There were two bills to shift the date on which the presidential primary in Arkansas will be conducted in 2016 that Senator Gary Stubblefield (R-6th, Branch) introduced during the 2015 state legislative session. One sought to create a separate presidential primary while the other would have moved all of the May primaries (presidential primary included) to the first Tuesday in March. The former passed the Senate but was blocked in the state House by Representative Nate Bell (R-20th, Mena), the chairman of the committee to which SB 389 had been referred for consideration in the lower chamber.

Rather than see the bill die a slow death as the session concluded (due to end next week), Stubblefield, the legislation's sponsor, withdrew the bill.

But perhaps the state Senate advanced the wrong bill. Bell is opposed to the separate primaries, but there was an option to move them all up from May to March. This gets at the heart of the problem for states in the position Arkansas is in. Do you create a separate primary which carries with it a price tag (and a negative impact on turnout in a later primary for other offices) or do you move everything to an earlier date that would have state legislators campaigning for renomination during the state legislative session (and would lengthen their general election campaign)? FHQ raised this predicament with Arkansas in mind back in December. It was always going to be a steeper climb for Arkansas because the decision-making calculus is different there than it is in Alabama or Mississippi. That difference proved problematic.

However, the SEC primary idea is not dead in Arkansas. It is dead for the 2015 regular session of the Arkansas General Assembly, but the idea could be resurrected in a special legislative session. Arkansas, like we saw with Missouri in 2011, grants the governor the power to not only call a special session of the legislature, but to determine on what the session will be focused. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R), according to Wickline, has already signaled that a special session could be called to deal with the recommendations of a legislative task force on the state's Medicaid expansion.

Hutchinson could also add the SEC primary idea to the agenda. And he favors the earlier primary:
"Though the governor is supportive of moving the presidential primary, he has no intention of calling a special session for this issue," Hutchinson spokesman Kane Webb said. 
"As to the money to pay for a separate presidential election, it's his understanding that the funds are in the budget for this," Webb said.
That roadblock still exists on the House side.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Republican Proportionality Rules Changes for 2016, Part One

These discussions never really go away, but with candidates officially announcing and 2016 drawing closer, the salience of the delegate selection rules has begun its quiet rise. Already, FHQ has seen snippets of comments and reporting out there building up the potential for rules changes -- breaking with the typical rhythms of the nomination process -- to increase the chaos of the 2016 Republican nomination process.1 Perhaps they will. Certainly, as the story tends to go, rules changes of any stripe -- big or small -- will cause significant changes in the landscape of a nomination race.

Of course, it is always more nuanced than that. The rules changes are there, sure, but the impact is typically more muted than is often discussed. For 2016, FHQ wants to try and get out ahead of this as much as possible. That way, once primary season hits late next January or early next February, there can be a more informed discussion concerning the rules changes and the actual impact they are having on the Republican race in real time.

My column last week at Crystal Ball set a baseline of sorts, and FHQ dug a little deeper on some of the Republican rules changes for 2016 specific to the Ron-to-Rand Paul delegate maneuvering. Yet, a change by change examination may be more appropriate for our purposes; a primer in some sense.

To start, let's talk proportionality. FHQ will lay out the rules changes in this post and then follow up with an addition two or three posts on potential implications of the changes for 2016.

The RNC adding a proportionality window was actually a big rules change during the 2012 cycle. No, the change was not large in terms of its impact. The definition of proportionality was sufficiently broad as to bring about only minimal changes to state party delegate selection plans as compared to how those same parties had operated in 2008. States were not lurching from a truly winner-take-all method of allocation to a truly proportional one. Instead, in a great many case, plans that were already hybrid plans -- in between the winner-take-all and proportional extremes on the spectrum -- that were tweaked ever so slightly to meet the requirements of the new rules for March contests.

What made the change "big" was that the Republican National Committee made the change at all. That the RNC voted for the recommendations of the Temporary Delegate Selection Committee, breaking with the national party's traditional hand-off approach to dealing with state delegate selection/allocation processes, was what was significant. Creating a mandate for proportionality in a more or less top-down way rather than leaving those matters up to the states/state parties as had historically been the case is still something that rankles some in the party.

Once such a rules change is introduced, though, the desire or perceived need to tinker with those rules becomes almost inevitable. That is particularly true after a party loses presidential election. Actually, the fun footnote to all of this is that the Romney team made the proportionality requirement optional (the infamous shall/may switch) in the version of the 2016 rules coming out of the Tampa convention. After the former Massachusetts governor had lost the 2012 election, though, the RNC readopted the requirement, trading may for shall in the language of the rule at the 2014 RNC winter meeting.

[Reference: 2016 Republican delegation selection rules]

With the quiet reintroduction of the proportionality requirement came a number of subtle changes to Rule 16(c)(2, 3).2 First, the RNC compressed the proportionality window by two weeks. Instead of the allocation in primaries and caucuses having to be proportional in all of March, the 2016 rules condensed that to just the first two weeks of March. That could mean different outcomes coming out of the proportionality period dependent upon how many states actually crowd into the window. If a smaller window yields fewer contests, then the difference is likely to be negligible. If, on the other hand, a month's worth of 2012 contests clusters in that two week opening in 2016, the effect may be larger. Of course, under the 2012 rules with the broad definition of proportionality, this distinction -- a two week or month-long proportionality window -- is largely irrelevant.

However, the party simultaneously tightened the definition of proportionality. The RNC reduced the number of ways in which a state party could proportionalize to meet the requirement. In combination, a smaller (or equivalent) number of primaries and caucuses in the proportionality window in 2016 relative to 2012 plus a stricter definition of proportionality are likely to cancel each other out. As of now, there are 17 states scheduled before March 15 (not counting the four carve-out states) in 2016. Once the Republican caucuses states are added into likely positions in early March, the number of primaries and caucuses in that two week proportionality window will approach if not match the 30 (non-carve-out state) contests held before April 1 during the 2012 cycle.3

To fully understand this, though, we need to take a step back and examine the actual change in the proportionality guidelines from 2012 to 2016. How narrowly has the RNC defined proportionality or more accurately what loopholes has it eliminated? The 2012 proportionality guidance the RNC legal counsel provide states granted states a great deal of latitude in achieving a proportional plan. As FHQ argued in 2011, all a state really had to do was to make the allocation of its at-large delegates proportional. Those delegates were a smaller part of a state's total number of delegates the large a state was (based on how the RNC apportioned delegates to each of the states). There were states like Texas that overreacted and changed to a truly proportional allocation plan,4 and states like Ohio that mostly maintained a winner-take-all by congressional district plan, but allocated its small cache of at-large delegates proportionally based on the statewide vote.

But here is what Republican state parties were looking at in 2011  as they were putting together delegate selection plans for 20125:
Proportional allocation basis shall mean that delegates are allocated in proportion to the voting results, in accordance with the following criteria: 
i. Proportional allocation of total delegates based upon the number of statewide votes cast in proportion to the number of statewide votes received by each candidate shall be the default formula for calculating delegate allocation, if no specific language is otherwise provided by a state.  
ii. If total delegate allocation is split between delegates at-large and delegates by congressional district, delegates at-large must be proportionally allocated based upon the total statewide results. 
iii. If total delegate allocation is split between delegates at-large and delegates by congressional district, delegates by congressional district may be allocated as designated by the state based upon the total congressional district results.  
iv. A state may establish a minimum threshold of the percentage of votes received by a candidate that must be reached below which a candidate may receive no delegates, provided such threshold is no higher than 20%. 
v. A state may establish a minimum threshold of the percentage of votes received by a candidate that must be reached above which the candidate may receive all the delegates, provided such threshold is no lower than 50%.  
vi. Proportional allocation is not required if the delegates either are elected independently on a primary ballot not in accordance with a primary presidential candidate's slate or are not bound at any time to vote for a particular candidate. 
The quick and dirty version of that is states in the 2012 proportionality window had to allocated their delegates proportionally. If the delegation was split between at-large and congressional district delegates, at-large delegates had to be proportionally allocated while states could maintain discretion over the allocation of congressional district delegates. States could further dilute proportionality by creating minimum thresholds for receiving delegates and/or receiving all of the delegates.

The RNC took that and between the convention period in 2012 and August 2014 boiled it down to this for 2016:
(3) Proportional allocation of total delegates as required by Rule 16(c)(2) shall be based upon the number of statewide votes cast or the number of congressional district votes cast in proportion to the number of votes received by each candidate.  
(i) A state may establish by statewide vote or by congressional district a minimum threshold of the percentage of votes received by a candidate that must be reached below which a candidate may receive no delegates, provided such threshold is no higher than twenty percent (20%).  
(ii) A state may establish by statewide vote or by congressional district a minimum threshold of the percentage of votes received by a candidate that must be reached above which the candidate may receive all the delegates, provided such threshold is no lower than fifty percent (50%).
Gone in 2016 is the discretion the RNC gave state parties regarding the allocation of their congressional district delegates. Those delegates can no longer be allocated winner-take-all based on the results within the congressional district. In essence more states would have to adopt plans similar to the one Alabama Republicans used in 2012. And like Alabama Republicans did in 2012, 2016 states with contests in the proportionality window can -- CAN -- add a minimum threshold for receiving any delegates and/or receiving all of the delegates (at both the statewide and congressional district level).

This would have the effect of very slightly turning the knob toward the proportional end of the spectrum in 2016 as compared to 2012. That would potentially split the delegates up even more between candidates and perhaps by some small measure slow down the nomination process. Potentially. It could also all be a wash considering that it looks like a smaller or roughly equivalent number of states will hold primaries and caucuses in the smaller 2016 proportionality window as was the case in 2012.

But those thresholds, where the state parties do have some discretion, do offer some interesting layers to the process. FHQ will examine the implications of those in Part Two.

1 Yes, this is mostly a Republican thing. With no real competition on the horizon on the Democratic side and no changes of consequence to the Democratic nomination rules, there is far less to talk about as far as the Democrats are concerned.

2 FHQ says "quiet" because it was as if the proportionality requirement had never left. Folks at the RNC told FHQ in 2013 that the intention was to keep it in place all along; that "may" would change to "shall" in Rule 16(c)(2):
Any presidential primary, caucus, convention, or other process to elect, select, allocate, or bind delegates to the national convention that occurs prior to March 15 in the year in which the national convention is held shall provide for the allocation of delegates on a proportional basis.
3 This 2012 number includes states with primaries or caucuses before March. Florida's "move" to January 31 had the effect of stretching the proportionality window out to include February and March contests. That had a minimal impact because both Florida and Arizona ignored the proportionality requirement and most of the rest of the February delegate selection events were non-binding caucuses (not affected by the requirement).

4 That change was made by Texas Republicans before redistricting challenges forced the primary from the first Tuesday in March to the end of May.

5 None of this was codified in the actual Rules of the Republican Party. Rather, the RNC legal counsel had to provide guidance concerning what constituted allocation on a "proportional basis". That protocol has changed for the 2016 cycle. The RNC included the proportionality guidelines in the rules regarding the proportionality requirement.

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