Saturday, July 30, 2011

2012 Maine Republican Caucuses

No, there is no known date yet.

However, and regrettably, FHQ omitted the Maine Republican caucuses from our primer on when the last few undecided states set dates for their 2012 presidential delegate allocation.1 Instead of adding it quietly to the primer, we will give Maine its own spot and also add it to the primer.

Maine: Like many of the other Republican caucus states, the date of the Maine GOP caucus meetings is to be determined. Also like many other Republican caucus states, it is informative to look at the state party rules for some indication of the procedure by which the date of the municipal caucuses are set. According to the 2010 Rules -- those governing the 2012 Maine Republican convention -- the party has to, based on state law, hold a state convention between March 1 and August 1. Beyond that guideline outside of the state party's control, Rule 7 of the Maine Republican Party's rules further describes the guidelines imposed on the party's State Committee -- the entity charged with setting the municipal caucuses date(s). Rule 7 states that municipal caucuses will be held every two years according to state law and "upon [the] call of the Chairman of the Republican State Committee". In addition, Rule 7b encourages municipalities "to conduct their caucuses by March 1 or a single date if so specified by the State Committee". That gives us some idea of a window of time in which the Maine GOP may hold caucuses. If 2008 is a precedent -- and there is not necessarily a reason to believe it is -- the Maine Republican Party will seek to hold Sunday caucuses. In 2008, that was on the Sunday immediately prior to Super Tuesday. The Sunday just prior to the earliest date states are allowed by the national parties in 2012 -- a date FHQ will reluctantly call Super Tuesday -- is March 4. That obviously falls after the rules-encouraged pre-March 1 guideline. The Sunday prior to that is February 26. The Maine Republican caucuses are likely to fall into a window that begins with Sunday, February 26 and ends on, coincidentally enough, Sunday, March 11, the date on which the Maine Democratic Party caucuses are scheduled and the Sunday immediately following Super Tuesday.
Best guess on timeframe for a decision: According to the Maine Republican Party rules, the State Committee meets monthly. The party will, therefore, have a couple of opportunities -- in August and September -- to decide on a date prior to the RNC's October 1 deadline by which dates are supposed to be set.
Threat level: Low. Maine was quietly non-compliant in 2008 and if the Republican Party chooses to repeat similar scheduling of their caucuses in 2012, will likely see a similar level of attention (mainly because if the contest immediately precedes Super Tuesday, candidates will be focused elsewhere).
1 At the last minute, mid-draft of the primer, I realized that I needed to include Minnesota and in the process -- I was writing alphabetically by state -- left Maine out.

The 2012 Presidential Primary Calendar (7/30/11)

The move in California of the presidential primary to June from February forces another update of the 2012 presidential primary calendar.

NOTE: While Massachusetts, North Carolina and Oregon remain as states shaded with two colors on the map, there is no indication that any of those pieces of legislation will pass even one chamber. All are stuck in committee. North Carolina and Oregon have adjourned for 2011 and only have a handful of post-adjournment legislative days in which to act. It is technically possible, but not likely that the legislatures in either state act on the bills. In Massachusetts, again, it does not appear as if there will be any further movement in the year-round session to move the primary, but it is still possible. As it stands, though, it is highly likely that Massachusetts remains in March and North Carolina and Oregon both stick with their May primary dates.

The only states where legislation is active and likely to pass and be signed into law are Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin. The remaining states that are unknowns are either Republican caucus states or states where the date decision-maker resides outside of the state legislature.

[Click to Enlarge]

Reading the Map:

As was the case with the maps from past cycles, the earlier a contest is scheduled in 2012, the darker the color in which the state is shaded. Iowa, for instance, is a much deeper shade of blue in January than South Dakota is in June. There are, however, some differences between the earlier maps and the one that appears above.

  1. Several caucus states have yet to select a date for the first step of their delegate selection processes in 2012. Until a decision is made by state parties in those states, they will appear in gray on the map.
  2. The states where legislation to move the presidential primary is active are two-toned. One color indicates the timing of the primary according to the current law whereas the second color is meant to highlight the most likely month to which the primary could be moved. [With the exception of North Carolina, the proposed movement is backward.]
  3. Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina are shaded on the map according to the latest possible date these states would have if Florida opts not to move their primary into compliance with the national party rules. Iowa Republicans and Nevada Republicans and Democrats have decided to accept the party-designated dates, but FHQ operates under the assumption that both will move to a point ahead of the earliest exempt state should one or more move or maintain a February or earlier date.
  4. States that are bisected vertically are states where the state parties have different dates for their caucuses and/or primaries. The left hand section is shaded to reflect the state Democratic Party's scheduling while the right is for the state Republican Party's decision on the timing of its delegate selection event.

Reading the Calendar:

  1. Caucus states are italicized while primary states are not. Several caucus states are missing from the list because they have not formalized the date on which their contests will be held in 2012. Colorado appears because the caucuses dates there are set by the state, whereas a state like Alaska has caucuses run by the state parties and as such do not have their dates codified in state law.
  2. States that have changed dates appear twice (or more) on the calendar; once by the old date and once by the new date. The old date will be struck through while the new date will be color-coded with the amount of movement (in days) in parentheses. States in green are states that have moved to earlier dates on the calendar and states in red are those that have moved to later dates. Arkansas, for example, has moved its 2012 primary and moved it back 104 days from its 2008 position.
  3. The date of any primary or caucus moves that have taken place -- whether through gubernatorial signature or state party move -- also appear in parentheses following the state's/party's new entry on the calendar.
  4. States with active legislation have links to those bills included with their entries on the calendar. If there are multiple bills they are divided by chamber and/or numbered accordingly.
  5. Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina appear twice. The earlier entry corresponds with the latest possible date these states would have if Florida opts not to move their primary into compliance with the national party rules. The second, later entry for each of the non-exempt states reflects the position the national parties would prefer the earliest states to hold their delegate selection events.

2012 Presidential Primary Calendar

December 2011

Monday, December 5:

Iowa caucuses1

Tuesday, December 13

New Hampshire1

Saturday, December 17:

Nevada caucuses1

South Carolina1

Florida (bills: House 1, 2/Senate) (moved to no date: 5/19/11)

February 2012

Monday, February 6:

Iowa caucuses (moved: 2/8/11) (based on national party rules)

Tuesday, February 7:





Delaware (bills: Senate)

Georgia (bills: House) (moved to no date: 5/13/11)


Minnesota Republican caucuses (bills: House/Senate) (moved: 3/1/11)

Missouri (bills: House 1, 2, 3/Senate)

Montana Republican caucuses

New Jersey (bills: Assembly 1, 2/Senate 1, 2)

New York




Saturday, February 11:


Tuesday, February 14:


New Hampshire (based on national party rules)


Washington, DC

Saturday, February 18:

Nevada Republican caucuses (-28) (moved: 12/16/10) (based on national party rules)

Nevada Democratic caucuses2 (-28) (moved: 2/24/11) (based on national party rules)

Tuesday, February 21:

Hawaii Republican caucuses (+88) (moved: 5/16/09)

Wisconsin (bills: Assembly, Senate)

Tuesday, February 28:


Michigan4 (bills: House)

South Carolina (based on national party rules)

March 2012

Tuesday, March 6 (Super Tuesday):

Colorado caucuses (+14) (bills: House) (moved: 5/27/11)

Idaho Republican caucuses (+70) (moved: 7/16/11)

Massachusetts4 (bills: House)

Minnesota Democratic caucuses (-28) (moved: 3/17/11)


Oklahoma (-28) (bills: House 1, 2, 3/Senate 1, 2) (moved: 5/3/11)

Rhode Island

Tennessee (-28) (bills: House 1, 2, 3/Senate 1, 2, 3) (moved: 5/9/11)

Texas (bills: House/Senate)


Virginia (-21) (bills: House 1, 2/Senate) (moved: 3/25/11)

Sunday, March 11:

Maine Democratic caucuses (-28) (moved: 3/27/11)

Tuesday, March 13:

Alabama (-35) (bills: House 1, 2) (moved: 6/9/11)

Hawaii Republican caucuses (+67 and -21) (moved: 5/14/11)


Utah Democratic caucuses (-35) (moved: 3/25/11)

Tuesday, March 20:

Colorado caucuses

Illinois (-42) (bills: Senate) (moved: 3/17/10)

Saturday, March 24:

Louisiana (-42) (bills: House) (moved: 6/29/11)

April 2012

Tuesday, April 3:

Kansas (bills: House 1, 2/Senate -- cancel primary) (canceled: 5/25/11)

Maryland (-49) (bills: House/Senate 1, 2) (moved: 5/10/11)

Washington, DC (-49) (bills: Council) (moved: 4/27/11)

Saturday, April 7:

Hawaii Democratic caucuses (-46) (moved: 3/18/11)

Wyoming Democratic caucuses (-28) (moved: 3/16/11)

Saturday, April 14:

Idaho Democratic caucuses (-67) (moved: 5/1/11)

Kansas Democratic caucuses (-67) (moved: 5/24/11)

Nebraska Democratic caucuses (-63) (moved: 3/5/11)

Sunday, April 15:

Alaska Democratic caucuses (-68) (moved: 4/4/11)

Washington Democratic caucuses (-64) (moved: 4/30/11)

Tuesday, April 24:

Connecticut (-77) (bills: House) (moved: 7/8/11)

New York (-77) (bills: Assembly/Senate) (moved: 7/13/11)


Rhode Island (-49) (bills: House/Senate) (moved: 7/1/11)

May 2012

Saturday, May 5:

Michigan Democratic caucuses (-67) (moved: 4/13/11)

Tuesday, May 8:


North Carolina (bills: Senate)

Ohio (-63) (bills: House) (moved: 7/5/11)

West Virginia

Tuesday, May 15:

Idaho (+7) (bills: House) (moved: 2/23/11)


Oregon (bills: House)

Tuesday, May 22:

Arkansas (-105) (bills: House) (moved: 2/4/09)


Kentucky (bills: House) (died: legislature adjourned)

Washington (bills: House 1, 2/Senate -- cancel primary) (canceled: 5/12/11)

June 2012

Tuesday, June 5:

California (-119) (bills: Assembly) (moved: 7/29/11)

Montana (GOP -119) (moved: 6/18/10)

New Mexico5 (bills: Senate) (died: legislature adjourned)

North Dakota Democratic caucuses (-119) (moved: 4/21/11)

South Dakota

Tuesday, June 26:

Utah (Republicans only) (-140) (moved: 6/5/11)

1 New Hampshire law calls for the Granite state to hold a primary on the second Tuesday of March or seven days prior to any other similar election, whichever is earlier. Florida is first now, so New Hampshire would be a week earlier at the latest. Traditionally, Iowa has gone on the Monday a week prior to New Hampshire. For the time being we'll wedge South Carolina in on the Saturday between New Hampshire and Florida, but these are just guesses at the moment. Any rogue states could cause a shift.

2 The Nevada Democratic caucuses date is based on both DNC rules and the state party's draft delegate selection plan as of February 24, 2011.

3 In Arizona the governor can use his or her proclamation powers to move the state's primary to a date on which the event would have an impact on the nomination. In 2004 and 2008 the primary was moved to the first Tuesday in February.
4 Massachusetts and Michigan are the only states that passed a frontloading bill prior to 2008 that was not permanent. The Bay state reverts to its first Tuesday in March date in 2012 while Michigan will fall back to the fourth Tuesday in February.
5 The law in New Mexico allows the parties to decide when to hold their nominating contests. The Democrats have gone in early February in the last two cycles, but the GOP has held steady in June. They have the option of moving however.


Friday, July 29, 2011

California Presidential Primary to June 5

[Click to Enlarge]

California Governor Jerry Brown (D) signed into law AB 80 this afternoon. The legislation passed unanimously in the state Assembly and with only three dissenting votes in the state Senate, eliminates the separate presidential primary created prior to the 2008 presidential election cycle and re-couples the contest with the primaries for state and local offices. There will now be concurrent presidential and state/local primaries on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in June (June 5, 2012) that will save the state upwards of $100 million.

For reasons FHQ mentioned earlier today, this is a significant shift. California, the most populous, most delegate-rich state, moves it presidential primary from the earliest allowed date in 2008 to nearly the last possible date on the primary calendar in 2012. A shift of nearly 10% of the available delegates -- in both parties -- from February to June fundamentally affects the delegate calculations being made within the various presidential campaigns. It also very likely, moves California outside of the window in which the nominee will be determined.

The bill has also been the longest active presidential primary bill this state legislative cycle. Introduced long before most other bills to move presidential primaries in other states, the bill was in the midst of the legislative process from early January all the way to late July. That is partially a function of a year-round legislative session -- something not all states have -- but it was active for quite a while nonetheless.

Hat tip to Anthony York at PolitiCal for the news.

Was California's Early Primary the "Bust" or Were There Other Factors Limiting Its Impact?

FHQ has expected all along that California governor, Jerry Brown would sign AB 80 and eliminate the separate, February presidential primary and consolidate the contest with the primaries for state and local offices in June. Again, that isn't surprising.

What strikes me is some of the reactions to the June move in the article FHQ just linked to in the Sacramento Bee. Specifically, I take issue with some of the doom and gloom statements about the largest state in the union being an also-ran -- no matter what, seemingly -- in presidential nomination politics.
"We've learned that shifting a date doesn't matter," said Jaime Regalado, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs at California State University,Los Angeles. "Only if we had a more competitive balance between the two parties, then I think we would play a larger role ... Then they simply wouldn't drop in, parachute in to get money and leave."
"The idea of the early primary was a huge bust," said Tony Quinn, a political analyst and former Republican legislative aide. "We're just out of luck when it comes to affecting presidential politics."
FHQ disagrees strongly with both of these points. The problem isn't that "shifting a date doesn't matter" or that the move was a "bust". Both completely miss the point. The issue is that California has not been proactive in moving the date on which its presidential primary is held. Legislators in California have typically played follow the leader as opposed to being a leader in terms of setting a primary date.

Let's look back at California's primary moves in the post-reform era:
  • 1996: Moves from the first Tuesday in June to the last Tuesday in March
  • 2000: Moves from the last Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in March
  • 2008: Moves from the first Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in February
The 1996 move was one where the outcome was mixed. Non-exempt states could hold contests as early as the first Tuesday in March. Yet, California opted to move not to the front, but instead merely to the upper half of the calendar. In fact, on the Democratic side, that was a point on the calendar before which just over 60% of the delegates had been allocated.1 The reason the reviews were mixed on the impact of the move was that it didn't affect California as much as it affected other states and future calendar positioning. The 1996 California move saw the most delegate-rich state pick up and move from the very end of the calendar to the middle. That had the potential of fundamentally reformulating the calculations for candidates as their campaigns looked at the calendar. Most importantly, it helped to shift the point at which, in this case, approximately 75% of the delegates in both party were allocated.

The 1996 move coupled with the 2000 move to the earliest allowed date -- first Tuesday in March -- ushered in what FHQ calls the hyper-frontloaded era; an era of primary movement marked by states reacting to each others' moves within one cycle as opposed to reacting from one cycle to the next. And California's two moves of 1996 and 2000 were at the root of that. All those delegates at stake in the Golden state shifted the overall point at which 50% of the delegates had been allocated to an earlier point than it had ever been. The importance of that 50% number is that it is the earliest point at which some candidate can clinch the nomination.2 For the purposes of positioning primaries and caucuses on the primary calendar, this had a tremendous effect. To say that states -- those that had a desire to -- were scrambling to get to as early a point as possible, may be overstating matters, but if a state was moving after 1996, it was moving to the earliest allowed, first Tuesday in March date (or earlier for some Republican contests, as RNC rules allowed February contests).

If state governments and state parties wanted their voters to have an impact on the nomination races, it behooved them to schedule primaries or caucuses in the window of time in which the races were most likely to still be competitive. First of all, that's ahead of the 50% delegates allocated mark. And secondly, that more often than not left states with only one option: the first Tuesday in March.

In many respects, none of that is California's fault. Actors in the state responsible for setting the date of the primary were only acting in accordance with national party rules. And despite its size and delegate-richness, the Golden state was still just one among many states on crowded Super Tuesdays in both 2000 and 2008.

A couple of things. 1) FHQ is not suggesting that California should have gone rogue like Florida, though that certainly could have been one of their options. 2) Like many states, California missed out on a prime opportunity in 2004 (noticeably absent from the crowded Super Tuesdays listed above).

2004 saw the DNC change the party's delegate selection rules, allowing, like the Republican Party, non-exempt states to hold primaries and caucuses as early as the first Tuesday in February. Some states took advantage of the new rules and shifted into February, but the bulk of the early states remained back on a slightly diminished Super Tuesday. It was only slightly diminished in 2004 because there were still delegate-rich states like California and New York scheduled for that date.

FHQ made the argument in 2009 around a speculative Indiana move for 2012, that the Hoosier state, too, had missed its chance in 2004. The underlying theme in that three part analysis was that Indiana could have moved up to February in 2004 and maximized its impact -- attention gained -- among a less-packed collection of states (at least relative to its traditional first Tuesday after the first Monday in May primary date). Less crowded and early is a good combination for gaining candidate/media attention.

...or it has been.

In the recent past, as I described above, states have had little choice but to hold contests alongside of a bunch of other states if they wanted to go early. That formula has begun to change, though. First of all, a limited group of states is now willing to sacrifice delegates in order to go early and hopefully (from their perspective) alone on a date that is non-compliant with national party rules. That is one way. But the other way is something we have witnessed post-2008; states moving back to comply with national party rules, but moving back beyond the earliest allowed date. And in some cases states have been motivated to do that and to coordinate contests with other neighboring states similar to the Potomac Primary in 2008. In other words, if you can't be alone with the spotlight only on your state, why not at least go with other, similar neighboring states?

The landscape of the calendar is changing from what the system had built toward in time since reform up to 2008. California was always behind in its efforts to have as big an impact on a presidential nomination race as the state government and state parties, given their size, might otherwise have wanted. By consolidating their presidential primary with those for state and local offices in June in 2012, California may be, once again, missing out on an opportunity to schedule a stand-alone contest on, say, the last Tuesday in March or in mid-April.

While there were factors that ran counter to what California was hoping for in an earlier primary, there were things that were in the decision-makers' control over the years that were ignored or not understood. Was an early primary a bust in California? Yes, probably, but that could have been avoided with something other than a follow-the-leader approach to primary schheduling. know, with hindsight being what it is.

1 No, the Democratic Party did not have an active nomination race in 1996, but that figure in the link is worth showing fairly closely approximates the delegates allocated on the Republican side. According to Hagen and Mayer (2000) about 65% of the delegates at stake had been allocated in the 1996 Republican race by the time it reached California (see In Pursuit of the White House 2000, Figure 1.10, p. 38).

2 Now due to the rules of both parties -- complete proportional allocation of delegates on the Democratic side and at least some proportional allocation by the Republicans -- it is virtually impossible for one candidate to have amassed all of those delegates at stake. However, in recent cycles, there was enough of a compression of contests on Super Tuesday to give a frontrunning candidate a technically insurmountable edge in the delegate count (see Norrander 2000 for more).

Brown expected to sign bill moving California primary back to June

David Siders at the Sacramento Bee has the story.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Reactions to Arizona's Potential Primary Move Begin to Surface in Florida: A "Win-Win" Solution?

William March at Tampa Bay Online has a nice rundown of some of the Florida-based reactions to the monkeywrench Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) has thrown into the Sunshine state's effort to schedule the fifth presidential nominating contest. Obviously, Florida's efforts to squeeze a primary into a technically non-compliant, early March date -- March 1, 2 or 3 -- and securing a spot behind Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina and just those four states is being complicated by Arizona's potential move to January 31.

That said, the funny thing -- and it is embedded right in the article linked above -- is that Arizona probably should have been viewed as a threat all along. William March correctly identifies the fact that Arizona has a presidential primary scheduled for February 28 and that the governor there is considering moving the primary to January 31.1 But missing is the very real fact that the legislature in the Grand Canyon state did nothing to address the presidential primary date during its already-adjourned session earlier this year and that essentially locked the state into at the latest that February 28 date.

February 28 is a date that is already ahead of the early March date Florida has been eying for the last several weeks.

To me, that is troubling. The Republican Party of Florida and the RNC should not have been caught off guard by this. Arizona has been sitting out there as a legitimate threat since the legislature adjourned in April. That threat has now grown with Governor Brewer considering a January 31 date for the Arizona primary. But we are all left wondering why it took last week's news to bring the position Arizona was in to the attention of everyone.

FHQ doesn't have an answer. However, it is important to look at the reactions from Florida. First of all, the quote from Brewer's spokesman is worth highlighting:

"It [the Arizona primary date] is not set in stone," Benson said, "but the governor is leaning toward Jan. 31."
That language is consistent with the negotiation angle FHQ speculated about last week; that Brewer was only throwing January 31 out there as an opening offer to get everyone's attention. Attention received, Arizona can negotiate with the RNC and Florida (and Michigan and Georgia, too perhaps) for an advantageous position on the calendar.

And that brings us back to what Florida may do in response to a hypothetical Arizona move to January 31:

In a news conference Wednesday, Florida GOP Chairman Dave Bitner said he and national GOP Chairman Reince Priebus are working to reach a "win-win" solution, but gave no hint what it might be.
"The fact that Arizona might move, I don't think will play a significant role," Bitner said, but didn't explain why.
Let me address that second point first. Arizona won't play a significant role mainly because Florida's Presidential Preference Primary Date Selection Committee has the latitude to schedule the primary as early as January 3. That wouldn't be ideal for Florida given the recent news that the state was attempting to position itself in early March, but Arizona is not a threat to Florida going fifth. That is, as long as the powers-that-be in the Sunshine state are willing to pull the trigger on a move deeper into January.

This win-win solution that the RNC and Florida Republicans are working on is an interesting piece of information. Again, I have no inside knowledge of what is going on, but as FHQ mentioned last week, the RNC does not want any -- or any more -- calendar chaos. The party, furthermore, would probably like to avoid a scenario where Arizona forces the early four states as well as Florida, Arizona, Michigan and maybe Georgia into January. That leaves a big gap between the end of January and when contests are likely to pick back up again in March.

The RNC rules allow the Standing Committee on Rules to tighten the screws on states in violation of the RNC rules on delegates selection (Rule 16.e.3). The committee can go beyond the 50% delegation deduction in an effort to force compliance. And I strongly suspect the national party is utilizing that rule behind closed doors in an attempt to get what they want from Florida, Arizona and any other state that might throw the calendar into disarray. It is the only real weapon the national party has.

I don't want to rehash a previous post, but I do have a theory about what this "win-win solution" might be. In addition to the calendar chaos and February gap the national party may not desire, the list of rogue states wants a place at the table of early contests. If the RNC can broker a calendar between itself and the list of rogue states, the most ideal alignment would look something like this:
Monday, January 9, 2012: Iowa (but see comments below)
Tuesday, January 17: New Hampshire
Tuesday, January 24: South Carolina
Saturday, January 28: Nevada
Tuesday, January 31: Florida

Tuesday, February 7: Colorado
Tuesday, February 14: Arizona
Tuesday, February 21 or 28: Michigan (and maybe Georgia on one of those dates)
No, the RNC does not want primaries and caucuses to begin on January 9, but if that is what it takes to keep the early four states out of 2011 and gives each of the potential rogue states a stand-alone chance to bask in the spotlight of a presidential nomination race, then that is probably the most appropriate course of action. It doesn't mean it won't be a bitter pill for the RNC to swallow and leaves completely up in the air the question of how the rogue states would be treated in terms of the penalties. It would be a dangerous precedent for the party to set if it chose not to penalize those rogue states in some way. However, if the national party is of a mind that they are going to more seriously address the rules for 2016 and fundamentally rewrite them in some way, the RNC may not care.

In any event, the 2012 calendar carousel continues to spin. When it stops or how it is resolved is anyone's guess at this point.

1 Governor Brewer can use the power of proclamation to move the date up, and only up, from the fourth Tuesday in February to a more advantageous, earlier position.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Presidential Primary Off the Table in West Virginia Special Session

West Virginia Republican Party chairman, Mike Stuart, is now 0 for 2 in his efforts to keep Mountain state Republicans' voices from being "irrelevant" in the presidential nominating process. This past weekend, Stuart was spurned by his own party when the West Virginia Republican Party Executive Committee voted against the Stuart-backed plan to hold a nominating convention in 2012 as in 2008. On Tuesday, Stuart then saw his call for an earlier West Virginia presidential primary denied when the matter was left off the special state legislative session agenda in acting-Governor Earl Ray Tomblin's session call.

Stuart had little more to say in response than:
“I’m disappointed there is no call for an early presidential primary in 2012,” he said.
However, with unified Democratic control of the state government and an uncontested nomination for the party's nomination, the likelihood of a primary move, much less it being considered in a special session, were always going to be pretty low. As FHQ speculated earlier, Stuart's call for an earlier presidential primary West Virginia now at least gets it on the radar for when/if Democrats either lose control of the state governmental apparati in West Virginia or have a contested presidential nomination race in 2016.1

With both the convention and earlier primary options now cut off, West Virginia Republicans are locked into delegate selection through the May 8 primary next year.

1 It is unclear if the former will happen in the next four years, but nationally, Democrats are certain to have a contested presidential nomination race in 2016. There will either be an out-going, term-limited Democratic incumbent leaving the White House or a Republican, installed by the 2012 elections, there when that time rolls around.

Colorado GOP "Much More Inclined" to Leave Caucuses in March, but Keep February "Door Open"

Colorado Republican Party chairman, Ryan Call, brought attention to the Centennial state's 2012 delegate selection last week by suggesting that the party is considering using a provision of state election law to shift next year's presidential precinct caucuses up to the first Tuesday in February. While that option is on the table and legal, though in violation of Republican National Committee rules, Call, in a follow up with Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post, indicated that the new first Tuesday in March Colorado caucus date is still more likely.

"We are much more inclined to keep it in March out of deference to the tremendous amount of work that the county clerks would have to do to be ready for a February caucus," Call said. "But I also think we'd be doing the voters of Colorado a disservice if we didn't at least keep the door open."

Call said he wants to guard against a scenario in which the nominee for president is a done deal by the time Colorado's caucus rolls around.

Keeping the option open is one thing, but Colorado Republicans are running out of time if they are going to make a decision before October 1. [A decision from the Colorado State Central Committee meeting in September (date TBD).] What's more, the optics of the Republican nomination race -- in other words whether the nomination will be competitive up to a March 6 Colorado caucus -- are not likely to be any clearer then than they are now. That is, unless Romney, say, wins the Ames Straw poll and somehow appears inevitable or if Rick Perry jumps in -- or another candidate already in the race -- and quickly establishes himself (or herself) as a dominant frontrunner. That picture just does not seem to be heading toward a clear resolution in Colorado Republicans' timeframe.

Now, whether that means that March 6 is as close to a done deal for the state party is an open question. This is politics, after all, and much can change.

UPDATE: In a Denver Post op/ed piece, Chairman Call is also reported to have said:
Ryan Call, the Colorado GOP chairman, told us there is only an "outside chance" state Republicans would move their caucus from March 6 to Feb. 7, and would only do so if Iowa and some other states were to schedule primaries "at Christmas time."
Again, if the timeframe for a decision on the caucus from Colorado Republicans is the next State Central Committee meeting, then it very likely won't be totally clear if Iowa and other states are in December. At this point, there seems to be enough room even with a January 31 Arizona primary to fit the early four states and Florida into January. It may be compressed, but all those states can fit, though it may not be the most advantageous position for those states.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Primer on When the Remaining States Might Decide on Presidential Primary/Caucus Dates

If you are willing to mark West Virginia off the list,1 we are now down (up?) to 14 possible states that may go rogue and hold primaries or caucuses before March 6. That is the date the two national parties set in their respective delegate selection rules as the earliest date that states not named Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina could hold nominating contests during the 2012 cycle. As 2008 demonstrated, though, not all states are willing to go along with those rules. 2012, thus far at least, has proven no exception.

On top of it all, the kicker is that we only have a limited amount of information to guide in any attempt to determine when the actors in these states might decide on a timeframe of dates between possibly December 5 and March 5. What follows is a look at what we know and when we may have a better idea of when the ultimate 2012 primary calendar will be set.

First of all, the list of rogue states does not include Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. With them on the list, that's nearly 40% of all states with primary or caucus states up in the air; a staggering number in July 2011. It should be noted that that statistic is somewhat misleading. With presidential primaries and caucuses, often we're talking about 102 contests and not 51 (50 states plus DC). Both parties have nomination spots to fill and in most states -- mostly primary states -- there is a uniform date for the state parties to conduct their delegate allocation. However, there are a handful of states and state parties that provide exceptions. Some states are strictly caucus states and either tend to have (eg: Minnesota, Colorado or Iowa) or don't have (eg: Wyoming, Nevada or North Dakota) uniform dates between the two parties. There are also states where one state party will opt for the caucus option while the other decides to take advantage of a state-funded primary election (eg: Idaho or Montana).

Given that reality, there are a couple of ways to look at this situation before we dive in. On the one hand, there is a partisan component. The Democratic primary calendar is largely set. Sure, decisions in Florida or Georgia may affect when Democrats in those states will allocate delegates, but outside of the exempt four early states, the Democratic calendar is more settled than the Republican version.

On the other hand, there is also a primary or caucus component that builds off of the partisan explanation. There are seven caucus states that are question marks at this point and each one has a date on the Democratic side but not on the Republican side. To some degree that is a function of an institutional difference between the parties. The Democratic Party requires the submission of a delegate selection plan for approval by its Rules and Bylaws Committee. The deadline for submission this year was May 2. There is no direct corollary in the RNC. The Republican Party rules merely set a deadline by which states must have settled on how delegates will be allocated in the next year's presidential race. For the 2012 cycle, that deadline is October 1. There are already, then, caucus dates for the Democratic contests in Alaska, Kansas, Maine, North Dakota, Washington and Wyoming, but not for the Republican contests.

What do we know about the possible landing spots for the caucuses in those states? Well, not much really. With the exception of Wyoming, there is nothing on the horizon -- at least not publicly -- in any of the other five caucus states. There is nothing akin to the executive committee meeting in West Virginia yesterday or the state central committee meeting planned in Wyoming next month in any of those states.

Here's what we know:
Moved 2/5/11 (March 6 district conventions) Alaska: In Alaska, state Republican Party rules specify that delegates must be allocated by a point at least 35 days prior to the opening of the Republican National Convention (Alaska Republican Party Rules, Article V, Section 15.b). Furthermore, the state central committee is charged with calling a state convention at least 75 days before it is to convene (Alaska Republican Party Rules, Article V, Section 1). Both of those conditions will easily be met for 2012, but that tells us little about when the Alaska Republican State Central Committee will meet -- at least quarterly according to the rules (Alaska Republican Party Rules, Article VI, Section 4.c).
Best guess on timeframe for a decision: some time before October 1
Threat level: Alaska Republicans attempted to hold early caucuses in 1996 but with little success. Other than that there is little evidence the party would hold non-compliant caucus meetings in 2012.

Moved 8/13/11 (March 10 caucuses): Kansas: Even less is known in Kansas. The Republican Party in the Sunflower state leaves much to the imagination. There is only one line in the Kansas Republican Party Constitution that is relevant to the discussion of the selection of national convention delegates (Article XIV, Section 4.C): "The state committee shall adopt the rules for the election of delegates to the Republican National Convention." That's it. The state committee meets "at least twice a year". Again, like Alaska, nothing is scheduled publicly.
Best guess on a timeframe for a decision: some time before October 1
Threat level: Kansas has never been a threat to hold early, non-compliant contests in the past. An early, non-compliant primary was discussed in the Kansas legislature in 2007, but that plan went nowhere.

Moved 9/10/11 (February 4-11 caucuses) Maine: Like many of the other Republican caucus states, the date of the Maine GOP caucus meetings is to be determined. Also like many other Republican caucus states, it is informative to look at the state party rules for some indication of the procedure by which the date of the municipal caucuses are set. According to the 2010 Rules -- those governing the 2012 Maine Republican convention -- the party has to, based on state law, hold a state convention between March 1 and August 1. Beyond that guideline outside of the state party's control, Rule 7 of the Maine Republican Party's rules further describes the guidelines imposed on the party's State Committee -- the entity charged with setting the municipal caucuses date(s). Rule 7 states that municipal caucuses will be held every two years according to state law and "upon [the] call of the Chairman of the Republican State Committee". In addition, Rule 7b encourages municipalities "to conduct their caucuses by March 1 or a single date if so specified by the State Committee". That gives us some idea of a window of time in which the Maine GOP may hold caucuses. If 2008 is a precedent -- and there is not necessarily a reason to believe it is -- the Maine Republican Party will seek to hold Sunday caucuses. In 2008, that was on the Sunday immediately prior to Super Tuesday. The Sunday just prior to the earliest date states are allowed by the national parties in 2012 -- a date FHQ will reluctantly call Super Tuesday -- is March 4. That obviously falls after the rules-encouraged pre-March 1 guideline. The Sunday prior to that is February 26. The Maine Republican caucuses are likely to fall into a window that begins with Sunday, February 26 and ends on, coincidentally enough, Sunday, March 11, the date on which the Maine Democratic Party caucuses are scheduled and the Sunday immediately following Super Tuesday.
Best guess on timeframe for a decision: According to the Maine Republican Party rules, the State Committee meets monthly. The party will, therefore, have a couple of opportunities -- in August and September -- to decide on a date prior to the RNC's October 1 deadline by which dates are supposed to be set.
Threat level: Low. Maine was quietly non-compliant in 2008 and if the Republican Party chooses to repeat similar scheduling of their caucuses in 2012, will likely see a similar level of attention (mainly because if the contest immediately precedes Super Tuesday, candidates will be focused elsewhere).

Moved 3/1/11 (February 7 caucuses) Minnesota: Minnesota Republicans have already indicated that they will utilize the February 7 date triggered by state law this past March.
Best guess on a timeframe for a decision: Decision made
Threat level: The Minnesota Republicans' precinct caucuses are already set for the day after the tentative date for the Iowa caucuses. Thus far this has been met with little or no reaction. The first step is non-binding and Minnesota's threat to the calendar has been viewed as minor when compared to other states like Arizona, Florida, Georgia or Michigan.

Moved 9/27/11 (March 6 caucuses) North Dakota: The one rule that directly addresses the creation of presidential caucus rules in the North Dakota Republican Party rules has apparently been repealed.2 That is not helpful, but the fact that the party has set a date for the 2012 state convention is some consolation that gives us some idea of the timing of the North Dakota delegate selection process. The state convention is to take place March 30-April 1, 2012. That leaves North Dakota Republicans a window of March 6-March 29 in which to hold precinct caucuses. It may also be the case that the party opts to hold earlier, but non-binding precinct caucuses prior to the convention where delegate selection will take place.
Best guess on a timeframe for a decision: some time before October 1
Threat level: North Dakota Republicans may be forced to hold the first step of their caucus process before March 6. They will likely follow the lead of the Republican Party in Minnesota, which awards no delegates on the precinct level.

Moved (March 3 caucuses) Washington: Like Kansas above, little is known about what is happening in Washington state. The Washington State Republican Party web site does not seem to have been updated since April and the search function filters everything toward the national party site. In other words, I could not uncover any rules for the party. What we do know -- and it doesn't give us any indication of either when a decision will be made or when precinct caucuses will be held -- is that the 2012 state convention is scheduled for May 31-June 2 in Tacoma.
Best guess on a timeframe for a decision: some time before October 1
Threat level: Washington Republicans held early February caucuses in 2008, something that was within the delegate selection rules. The party has typically acted within the rules on timing in the past.
Moved 8/27/11 (March 6-10 caucuses) Wyoming: Rare among the other Republican caucus states, Wyoming Republicans have actually indicated that they will make a decision on the timing of their caucus at a state central committee meeting next month. That decision appears to be a choice between the second Tuesday in March (March 13) and some earlier non-compliant date.
Best guess on a timeframe for a decision: August 26-27 state central committee meeting
Threat level: Wyoming Republicans moved to January in 2008. The party actually had two January dates. The first followed a resolution that place the county caucuses on the same day as the original tentative date of the New Hampshire primary, January 22. Once it became clear that New Hampshire was not going to stick with that date Equality state Republicans jumped to January 5. There appears to be some dissension on an earlier caucus within the party now and it is questionable as to whether a date other than the second Tuesday in March will be used.
If you are looking that over and thinking to yourself that that isn't telling you much, you aren't alone. It doesn't. Wyoming provides the clearest picture and probably the best guide. The other states are likely to set the dates of their caucuses at their next state central or executive committee meetings. That alone is our guide at this point.

Where there is better or more information is in the primary states. Those states that have already come forward and said they are considering or planning to hold non-compliant events are easier to track and are, more often than not, primary states (Colorado is the exception.).

Finalized 9/12/11 (February 28 primary) Arizona: The revelation out of the Grand Canyon state this week provided yet another potential shake up to the 2012 presidential primary calendar. Governor Jan Brewer did more with one statement to remind the country of the power she has to move the Arizona presidential primary than anyone else has been able to do. Sure, we've talked about the governor's proclamation power around here at FHQ, but the fact that Arizona was essentially locked into February 28 at the latest much less that Brewer had the power to move the date up but not back has been underreported in the political press. That said, Governor Brewer, according to the law, has to allow a 150 buffer between her decision on a date and when the primary is actually scheduled. If she were to, for instance, decide today on a date, the governor could set a date as early as December 21. That date isn't likely to become the home of the Arizona primary, but it does give us an idea of the type of timeframe at which we're looking. To legally schedule the primary for the proposed January 31, Brewer would have to act on or before September 2. And while she has a bit of wiggle room between now and then to maybe inch up a bit further -- if Arizona Republicans were receptive to the idea -- states like Florida, Georgia and Michigan will likely not have resolved their primary situations by then. What that tells us is that the RNC has to act quickly if it wants to avoid, as FHQ speculated, a December start to the primary calendar (worst-case scenario), or more likely, some significant January compression with a gap in contests between late January and March 6.
Best guess on a timeframe for a decision: on or before September 2
Threat level: High. Governor Brewer and Arizona hold a lot of card right now. If she pulls the trigger on a January 31 primary, that likely moves Florida up to at least then if not earlier and pushes the early four states up against New Years.
Moved 9/24/11 (February 7 caucuses) Colorado: Colorado Republicans, like southwestern neighbor Arizona, this week made waves of their own. All along the party had the ability to choose between holding caucuses on the new first Tuesday in March date (It had been the third Tuesday in March.) or moving up to the first Tuesday in February. What was lacking before this past week was the willingness on the part of the Colorado Republican Party to use the provision in that law to move up to a non-compliant date. Given the apparent willingness to consider it, Colorado Republicans have now staked their own hypothetical claim. But when are we likely to get a decision. The article at the center of the Colorado news cites a fall decision. As is the case with the caucus states above, the Colorado Republican State Central Committee will be the one to make the change. FHQ was unable to uncover the rules for the state party, but the pattern of past meetings appears to follow a twice yearly, March and September meeting sequence.
Best guess on a timeframe for a decision: during the September State Central Committee meeting
Threat level: A week less threatening than Arizona. Yes, Colorado is a caucus state that carries less clout than a primary state, but its status as a likely battleground state in the general election is going to draw the candidates to Colorado despite the fact that delegates will not be directly on the line. Most importantly, Colorado is a bigger threat on February 7 than Minnesota is to the overall calendar.
Moved 9/30/11 (January 31 primary) Florida: What hasn't been said about Florida at this point? The state has been a threat to the calendar since the national parties set their delegate selection rules, calling on early 2008 states to move back to at least March 6. The legislature took the certainty of the state-instituted last Tuesday in January primary date and made the threat more uncertain by the creation of the Presidential Preference Primary Date Selection Committee. The committee furthered the uncertainty of Florida's intentions by allowing a timeframe in which the primary could be scheduled (January 3-March 6).
Best guess on a timeframe for a decision: required by state law by October 1
Threat level: High. Florida can hold out longer than Arizona and has the ability to schedule and earlier primary with the result that the earliest four states get squeezed into the first half of January (or worse if another state threatens Florida's fifth position.).
Moved 9/29/11 (March 6 primary) Georgia: FHQ will be the first to admit that we have not done as thorough a job of describing just how much flexibility Georgia's new law handing the secretary of state the authority to set the presidential primary gave Secretary Kemp. From the introduction of the legislation, FHQ has discussed Georgia in terms of being able to go as early as January 31. That argument is one that is stuck in a Florida on January 31 (but without the PPPDSC) mindset. Georgia is actually a bit more flexible than that. The only guidelines that Brian Kemp has are 1) the primary has to be in the year of the presidential election, 2) it has to be no later the second Tuesday in June and 3) the decision has to be made 60 days prior to the date on which the primary is set. Georgia could go on January 31 and wait all the way up to the December 1 deadline to make that decision. Of course, Secretary Kemp could also schedule the primary for as early as January 3 -- the earliest Florida can hold a contest -- as long as the decision is made by November 3, 2011. That is still the latest deadline a non-exempt state has. Georgia has the ability to wait out the RNC-mandated deadline on October 1 but can also outlast all but maybe Michigan.
Best guess on a timeframe for a decision: November 3 is not a deadline Kemp is pinpointing, but he can wait that long or even up to December 1, though the Georgia decision is likely to closely follow the decision the PPPDSC makes in Florida on or before October 1.
Threat level: High. Secretary Kemp has indicated that he is considering not only going rogue and moving Georgia into the pre-window period but hinting at coupling with Florida in the process. What we don't know is if he is willing to follow Florida all the way up to as early as January 3. And we likely won't know that until Kemp announces the decision.
Michigan: Michigan is one the piece of this puzzle now that is the most unknown. [Well, among the primary states.] There is Republican-sponsored legislation in the Republican-controlled state legislature to move the Wolverine state primary to January 31. And pre-Arizona, the Michigan Republican Party telegraphed that it is looking at a window of February 28-March 6 for its primary. The contest is currently scheduled for February 28, so the Republicans in Michigan will need some help from the legislature to move it up or back. But what do we know about a timeframe for a decision? The consensus seems to think that since Michigan went rogue in 2008, it is likely to do so again in 2012. That is probably likely. Again though, we don't know how rogue. The party has expressed a range that it will vote on next month, but the legislature opens that window all the way to at least January 31 (with the legislation in its current form).

Let's set aside the state party's resolution for next month -- during the state committee meeting on August 13 -- and focus on what the legislature can do with the primary date assuming the recommended rules are agreed to unamended by the state committee. [Yes, the committee can amend those rules.] Assuming that Michigan Republicans and their brethren in the majority in the state legislature actually observe the RNC's October 1 deadline, the legislature will have a bit of time in which to work on moving the primary if necessary before then. According to the Michigan House calendar, the House -- not the Senate necessarily though a similar schedule is assumed but not known beyond September 1 -- will have limited time in August but be in session on Tuesdays-Thursdays from September 7-28. Assuming legislative Republicans in the legislature don't care about the October 1 deadline, they can also act as late as December 15. However, that is likely unworkable with candidate filing deadlines. The 2008 filing deadline in Michigan seems to have given a 12 week (84 day) cushion between the deadline and the primary itself. I cannot find that codified anywhere in the Michigan statutes, however. What is in the statutes is that the secretary of state before the second Friday in November (November 11, 2011) issues a list of candidates "generally advocated by the national news media to be potential presidential candidates". But that isn't tied, nor was it in 2008, to the timing of the presidential primary.

All we really have to go on as a guide in this instance is what happened in 2007. In 2007, though, the legislature was split between the parties and a Democrat was governor. In 2011, Michigan is under unified Republican control with only a contested Republican nomination ahead in 2012. Nonetheless, previously introduced legislation was amended and passed in late August and signed into law in early September. That doesn't seem possible in August in 2011, but September is wide open if Republicans in the legislature need to shift the date of the primary up or back.
Best guess on a timeframe for a decision: mid-August vote from the Michigan Republican Party and September action from the legislature.
Threat level: High. It is high, though it won't be known how high until we get some sort of an indication -- if we get an indication -- from the Republican state committee next month. They could stick with February 28 now that it looks like Arizona is clearing out of that date, or Michigan Republicans could make a more provocative plan with the help of the state legislature. Michigan Republicans in the state legislature will have the benefit of knowing, despite any rules from the state party, if Arizona has moved to January 31 by the time the legislature picks up after a recess on September 7.
Moved 9/29/11 (March 17 Republican caucuses) Missouri: Though Governor Jay Nixon's veto cast doubt on the fate of the Missouri primary, there are still two viable options to keep the Show Me state off the list of rogue states. Currently, the contest is scheduled for February 7, but the legislature will have an opportunity to override the governor's veto during a September 14 veto session and will also have clean bill with only the presidential primary date change to consider from the governor during the September special session. All this will likely be too much for the date to not be changed in some way. That said, Missouri Republicans may reconsider during September if Arizona and Michigan change their dates and move to January.
Best guess on a timeframe for a decision: September
Threat level: Low. As FHQ speculated the other day, Missouri Republicans risk raising the ire of the RNC if they back out on a planned move that the party within the legislature pushed in the first place. I reserve the right to be wrong, but Missouri will more than likely end up on March 6.
Moved 9/30/11 (April 3 primary) Wisconsin: Like Missouri, Wisconsin seems headed for a later date. But also like Missouri, Wisconsin Republican legislators may reconsider their sponsorship of legislation to move the presidential primary in the Badger state back to the first Tuesday in April if a host of states defy the national party rules. Bills from the early portion of the session are due to the governor by August 4, and if nothing happens with the presidential primary legislation by then, there will be a window from September 13-22 where the bills could be passed in the Assembly, the only legislative stumbling block at this point. The Senate already passed its version of the primary to April bill. If the legislature fails to act the presidential primary will remain on the third Tuesday in February. The figures have not been released, but holding the presidential primary in April with the spring primary will save the state some money. Whether that is enough of an enticement to move the primary is not known; not in the state Assembly anyway.
Best guess on a timeframe for a decision: September
Threat level: Low. Wisconsin may reconsider, but this bill looks to have been more a casualty of the extended budget bill debate and negotiation more than anything else. The primary just wasn't the priority the budget was. In September it should be.
If we tie all of the above together, there is a lot to look at in September. Arizona will serve as the first and most dangerous domino in early September. That will fundamentally affect every other undecided state's decision. Michigan, Missouri, Wisconsin and Colorado are likely to follow throughout the rest of September with Florida holding out as long as it can before setting a date on or just before October 1. That would leave Georgia as a free agent with a little more than a month to choose a date and simultaneously protect the ability to go as early as January 3. Secretary Kemp likely won't need that much time. That would put Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina in the position of setting dates -- dependent on what the others have decided -- throughout the end of October and into November.

Then, of course, there are the remaining caucus states. Though they carry less weight they can pick and choose their spots and whether they want to challenge the national party. Regardless, the decisions on dates within those state party organizations are likely to take place at summer meetings in August and September.

NOTE: This is an extremely long read, but I hope it's a super useful one all the same. A link to this guide will be added to the 2012 presidential primary calendar and will be updated as states continue to make their decisions.

1 West Virginia Republicans voted in favor of allocating their 2012 delegates via a primary, but there has been some discussion in the Mountain state about moving the primary up. That said, the primary likely would not be moved to a date in violation of both national parties' delegate selection rules. The only way that West Virginia Republicans were a threat to go rogue was through the proposed caucus/convention system. The caucuses would have begun in January and culminated with a delegate-allocating convention on rules-compliant March 6.

2 Though it is still listed the Rule 21 is tagged as repealed. This is likely due to the fact that the rule references consistency with state law. That rules repeal from the Republican Party is likely attributable to the North Dakota bill in 2009 that passed the legislature and was signed into law removing the link between the state and the party presidential caucuses.