Saturday, June 14, 2008

2008 Primary and Caucus Grades, Part Five

Another day, another look back at how states fared in the influence game during the 2008 primary season. Today FHQ examines how the final group of 10 states (South Dakota-Wyoming) matched up against the rest.

The basic grading criteria are as follows
1) Did the state move between 2004 and 2008?
2) Did the state change contest types (caucus to primary or vice versa)?
3) Did the state's contest influence the Democratic/Republican nomination in any significant way?
4) Was the state's contest one among many (ie: on Super Tuesday) or by itself (ie: Pennsylvania)?
If a state moved (or did not) and/or was influential in deciding the nominees in each part, the state's grade will be higher.

South Dakota
2004 Date/contest type: 6-1-04/primary
2008 Date/contest type: 6-3-08/primary
Dem. Influence: Down to the wire and the Mount Rushmore state opts for the candidate who had her fate seemingly sealed the weekend before in Washington, when the Rules and Bylaws Committee decided how to deal with Florida and Michigan (not in favor of Clinton).
GOP Influence: A rock red state with absolutely no influence. Well, that's what happens when you go last; three months after the race effectively ended.
Contest Company: Montana, New Mexico (GOP)
Grade: C
Comments: The Mount Rushmore state, like so many others, considered a frontloading move (Super Tuesday, where else?), but decided against it, opting for the June primary it had held since 2000. Did it work? Well, the non-move wasn't designed to maximize influence. It was an economic move. By consolidating the primaries for president and state/local offices, South Dakota (or any other state for that matter) saves money. That the state proved at all influential in either contest was a function of the race lasting that long and not the primary being moved, or in this case, not moved.

2004 Date/contest type: 2-10-04/primary
2008 Date/contest type: 2-5-08/primary
Dem. Influence: The Volunteer state was another Arkansas neighbor that provided Clinton with a boost on Super Tuesday.
GOP Influence: Unlike Oklahoma, this Arkansas neighbor actually benefited Mike Huckabee on Super Tuesday.
Contest Company: Super Tuesday
Grade: C-
Comments: Hmm, moving up a week may not have paid as many dividends as the move four years ago. Things were much more crowded in 2008 than they were in 2004 for the Volunteer state and it showed. Tennessee was much less likely to get noticed among more than twenty states than they were four years ago when only Virginia's primary coincided with the Tennessee primary.

2004 Date/contest type: 3-9-04/primary-caucus
2008 Date/contest type: 3-4-08/primary-caucus (Dem.), primary (GOP)
Dem. Influence: 3am or not, Clinton began her comeback after Obama's streak in Texas. She won the primary but he took the caucuses in the state and the delegate advantage overall. On rules alone, Texas got a fair amount of attention (and influence) this cycle.
GOP Influence: McCain putting Huckabee away in the Lone Star state sealed the deal for the Arizona senator and served as the death knell for the Huckabee campaign.
Contest Company: Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont
Grade: A-
Comments: Rules, rules and rules. The Texas Democrats' method of allocating delegates got all the attention from February 19 up until the state's contest on March 4. Huckabee's inability to win in Texas ended his campaign and Obama neutralized Clinton's primary win with a caucus win in the state of his own. The Texas legislature being unable to move legislation scheduling the state's primary for February 5 actually paid off. Texas is a huge delegate state and would have held its own on Super Tuesday, but March 4 offered more of a spotlight and as a result influence over the nominations.

2004 Date/contest type: 2-24-04/primary
2008 Date/contest type: 2-5-08/primary
Dem. Influence: Obama continued his march through largely Republican states on Super Tuesday by winning Utah.
GOP Influence: Romney took advantage of another home state advantage, winning one of his few winner-take-all victories.
Contest Company: Super Tuesday
Grade: C-
Comments: Utah was another state that moved early (during the first quarter of 2006) and watched the stampede of states move in on its February 5 territory. The more states that joined the parade, the less influence it meant for Utah. The Beehive state got it alright; a small influence on the process. Obama emerged and Romney won another home state contest.

2004 Date/contest type: 3-2-04/primary
2008 Date/contest type: 3-4-08/primary
Dem. Influence: Polls showed Obama well ahead in the led up to the primary in Vermont. That netted the Green Mountain state a pass from the major candidates.
GOP Influence: Huckabee's inability to win in New Hampshire earlier in the cycle pretty much sealed the deal for the former Arkansas governor in Vermont.
Contest Company: Ohio, Rhode Island and Texas
Grade: D+
Comments: While Rhode Island was seen as a contest with a relatively tight margin on the Democratic side, Vermont seemingly leaned heavily toward Obama. Not only was the contest overshadowed by Texas and Ohio, but it was viewed as less competitive as well. For the GOP, it was all McCain. Huckabee had put in place a Texas/Ohio or bust strategy, that by the end of the night had failed.

2004 Date/contest type: 2-10-04/primary
2008 Date/contest type: 2-12-08/primary
Dem. Influence: Obama's lopsided victory in the commonwealth and in the other two contests of the day really began to cast doubt on the Clinton candidacy.
GOP Influence: Huckabee's performance among evangelicals continued to bring up questions of McCain's chances of potentially wooing those voters in November. Nonetheless, the Arizona senator still won a solid victory.
Contest Company: One-third of the Potomac Primary (w/Maryland and DC)
Grade: B+
Comments: The subregional primary put all three participating states (Well, two states and one district.) in a much bigger spotlight than in if any or all had gone on Super Tuesday. Obama's impressive performance coupled with question marks surrounding McCain and Christian conservatives (not to mention recent Democratic successes in statewide races.) brought Virginia into the swing state discussion

2004 Date/contest type: 2-7-04/caucus
2008 Date/contest type: 2-9-08/caucus (Dem.)--2-9-08/caucus (GOP), 2-19-08/primary (caucus)
Dem. Influence:
GOP Influence:
Contest Company: on 2-9: Louisiana, Kansas (GOP), Nebraska (Dem.), on 2-19: Hawaii (Dem.), Wisconsin
Grade: A-
Comments: Another state legislature, another failed effort to establish a primary. However, the proposal would have placed the contest on February 5. Both parties most definitely benefited from the caucuses held the weekend following Super Tuesday. The Evergreen state was the biggest game in town that weekend but would have been lost amid the big boys four days earlier.

West Virginia:
2004 Date/contest type: 5-11-04/primary
2008 Date/contest type: 2-5-08/convention (GOP)--5-13-08/primary (Dem.)
Dem. Influence: Clinton's runaway victory in the Mountain state seemed a foregone conclusion heading in and ended up that way. The narratives emerging from that contest were Obama's troubles with working class whites in Appalachia and Clinton's inability, even given the huge victory, to catch up in the delegate count.
GOP Influence: The state convention wrapped up and was the first win of Super Tuesday. Huckabee won on the second ballot, but not before Romney, who won a plurality on the the first vote, could accuse Huckabee and McCain of being in cahoots. That sort of speculation fueled the Huckabee as VP chatter that has since faded.
Contest Company: Stand-alone contests
Grade: B+
Comments: For a small state, West Virginia lucked out with good timing on the GOP side and with the contest lasting to the last contests in the Democratic race.

2004 Date/contest type: 2-17-04/primary
2008 Date/contest type: 2-19-08/primary
Dem. Influence: With neither campaign making an effort in far-away Hawaii, Wisconsin was the big contest of the week. Clinton closed the gap in the polls heading in, but Obama won to extend the streak of victories to the March 4 contests two weeks later.
GOP Influence: Huckabee made a push in the state, but things were beginning to shift from math to miracles for him during this phase. McCain's inevitability was already apparent, but became even more so in Wisconsin.
Contest Company: Hawaii (Dem.), Washington (GOP)
Grade: B
Comments: Wisconsin carried this date over from the 2004 cycle and even though it fell after Super Tuesday in 2008, it still matter since both nominations were to that point undecided. Still the Badger state wasn't as influential as it was four years ago, virtually knocking John Edwards from the race.

2004 Date/contest type: 3-6-04/caucus (Dem.)
2008 Date/contest type: 1-5-08/caucus (GOP)--3-8-08/caucus (Dem.)
Dem. Influence: Obama's caucus successes had already been identified prior to this last caucus and while he won handily, the Clinton vote kept it under the threshold that would have given the Illinois senator anything more than a two delegate advantage in the caucuses.
GOP Influence
: You can't argue with having the second contest, even when most were focused on the upcoming contest in New Hampshire. Romney won, but didn't get much mileage out of it.
Contest Company: Stand-alone contests
Grade: C
Comments: Raise your hand if you are familiar with any Wyoming contests prior to this year. I didn't think so. So, for the state to get the second contest in on the GOP and still be relevant after not only Super Tuesday, but Texas/Ohio on the Democratic side, was quite an accomplishment for the tiny (in population) Equality state.

The final group got good marks for having contests which were well-scheduled and as a result were influential in the nomination process. Some states moved (or held steady) in positions that were earlier than they had been in the past but avoided the logjam on Super Tuesday. When both contests made it past that point, several states were well-positioned to make a difference.

Recent Posts:
The Dry Erase Board Wiped Clean

2008 Primary and Caucus Grades, Part Four

2008 Primary and Caucus Grades, Part Three

No comments: