Thursday, May 12, 2011

A Follow Up on Florida Dems and 2012 Presidential Primary/Caucus Delegate Allocation

FHQ got a nice clarification email from Florida Democratic Party spokesperson, Eric Jotkoff, this morning concerning the discrepancy between how he was quoted in the Tampa Tribune and what the party's draft delegate selection plan proposes in terms of the timing of the 2012 primary or caucus. My first thought yesterday upon reading the quote about the possibility of a June caucus (in the event the Presidential Preference Primary Date Selection Committee (PPPDSC) chooses a date that is not compliant with both national parties' sets of delegate selection rules) was that that likely referred to the state party convention. That intuition was confirmed by Mr. Jotkoff's email of clarification. As he said:
“Democrats from across Florida would be invited to attend county caucuses held in April and May, which will be used to allocate the delegates appropriately and to elect Delegates to a State Convention in June where the National Convention Delegates will be selected."
Just to clarify, then, Florida Democrats will hold county caucuses between April 14 and May 5, 2012 to begin allocating delegates to the national convention in Charlotte, a process that will be finalized at the state convention in June. And again, this assumes that the PPPDSC selects a date for the presidential primary that is in violation of the national party rules (ie: before March 6, 2012).

As a side note, I hate it when state parties schedule caucuses like this (though it is certainly their right to determine the manner in which the party allocates delegates). I say that from a research standpoint. When delegate selection events occur on more than one day (ie: caucuses over the period of a weekend or several weeks), it is difficult to measure when that process is taking place. FHQ's rule of thumb has always been to use the earliest date in our data as opposed to, say, the median date. If the point of movement forward/earlier on the calendar is done under the premise that it gains more candidate/press attention, then the earliest point at which any delegate allocation occurs is the marginally better way of capturing that. That said, there are a few caveats to be made. First of all, caucuses receive less attention anyway (see Gurian 1986, 1990, 1993), and stretching that process out dilutes that impact further. Secondly, we are, after all, talking about an uncontested, in-party nomination process here. It isn't terribly consequential when Florida holds its caucuses (no offense intended). Obama will be the Democratic nominee regardless. My research has always focused on contests nominations anyway. Finally, what kind of a bonus will this net Florida Democrats? I suspect the DNC will treat the Florida caucuses as if they all occurred on April 14 and give Sunshine state Democrats a 10% bonus on their delegate total as opposed to the 15% bump that comes with a May or later date.

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