Friday, January 29, 2021

#InvisiblePrimary: Visible -- Actions versus Words

Talk can be cheap in politics. 

Recently, FHQ wrote a bit about Sen. Josh Hawley's most recent denial that he is running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. And that is a good case in point. Sure, it is early enough in the 2024 invisible primary; early enough that those sorts of nays now turn into ayes or maybes later. But the bottom line is that those words are not really worth following at this point. Well, perhaps they are worth following but with the usual grains of salt. 

Instead, the better metrics to assess whether some particular candidate is running for -- albeit not necessarily in -- any given presidential is what a candidate and those potential surrogates around them are doing. Are they hiring staff? Are they running ads? Are they releasing a book? Are they fundraising (or trying to)? 

Sure, it is much much too early for any candidate to be running ads or hiring staff with 2024 specifically in mind, but that does not mean there are no maneuverings quietly occurring behind the scenes. Left for (politically) dead after the events at the Capitol on January 6, there has been some circling of the wagons behind Hawley in the time since as the Republican Party has generally settled on an overall less reactionary strategy. This and the fact that actions are more important than mere words in the invisible primary was epitomized earlier this week when news broke that the Senate Conservatives Fund was coming to the defense of Missouri's junior senator. Now, that may mean propping Hawley up for reelection or for a potential 2024 presidential bid. Regardless, it is indicative of some part of the broader Republican Party coalition acting on his behalf; something Sen. Hawley would certainly not turn down if any 2024 run were to happen. 

Often it is said to follow the money in politics. Well, that is part of the invisible primary equation, but not all of it. And those things matter more in candidate emergence than words alone. 



Thursday, January 28, 2021

Missouri House Bill Would Eliminate Presidential Primary

A bill filed earlier this month in the Missouri House of Representatives would repeal the requirement to conduct a presidential primary in the Show-Me state. 

First term Representative Adam Schwadron (R-106th, St. Charles) on January 6 introduced HB 680. The legislation would strip out two separate sections of Missouri election law referring to the scheduling and conduct of a presidential preference primary election, thus eliminating the contest in future cycles. 

While there were a spate of Republican state parties that in 2019 canceled presidential primaries (or caucuses) in order to conduct precinct caucuses instead, those actions are more common than a 2024 cancelation in Missouri would be. What prompted state parties in Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Nevada and South Carolina to make those moves was that President Trump was running virtually unopposed for the Republican nomination. On the one hand, the maneuvering was viewed as a means of protecting the president. However, none of the prospective competition to Trump was ever really viable in a party that continued to overwhelmingly back the president. Through that lens, the actions were fairly normal for parties with incumbents seeking renomination largely unopposed. Often it is merely a cost-savings change. 

But Schwadron's bill in Missouri does not fit that trend. Missouri has shifted in the 21st century from general election bellwether to reliably red state for Republican candidates. And canceling -- or potentially canceling -- a presidential primary breaks 1) with a trend toward more presidential primaries in the post-reform era and 2) with a trend that only sees contrary movement on that front during uncontested cycles. 2024 is not shaping up to be an uncontested cycle on the Republican side. 

...unless former President Trump jumps into the race and is able to simultaneously ward off any viable competition. [Alternatively, this could be a means through which to aid a presidential bid from favorite son, Sen. Josh Hawley (R) should he opt to run and make it to the point on the calendar when hypothetical Missouri caucuses are held. see Rand Paul and Kentucky in 2015. That plan did not work.] Even then, this would be an atypical move by a Republican legislator much less in an early-ish Republican primary state. 

--
A link to this legislation has been added to the 2024 FHQ presidential primary calendar.



#InvisiblePrimary: Visible -- RNC Neutrality in 2024

One of the parlor games of the moment inside and outside the beltway in DC is the hunt for any break between the Republican Party (in its many forms) and former President Donald Trump. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reportedly has no desire to speak to Trump again, but House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is headed down to Florida for a fundraiser and will speak with the former president in the process. But again, that is just one facet of the Republican Party, the party-in-government. 

The formal party apparatus itself, the RNC, recently broke with how it dealt with the president in 2019 ahead of the 2020 presidential primaries. Ronna Romney-McDaniel, the recently re-elected chair of the Republican National Committee, told the Associated Press in an interview...

“The party has to stay neutral. I’m not telling anybody to run or not to run in 2024. That’s going to be up to those candidates going forward. What I really do want to see him do, though, is help us win back majorities in 2022.” [McDaniel's response when asked whether she wanted to see Trump run again in the next presidential election.]

While that is a formal declaration of the chairwoman and is consistent with the rules regarding the conduct of the RNC in contested presidential nomination cycles, it differs from the national party's approach to 2020. It was, after all, at the RNC winter meeting in 2019 when the party stopped short of formally endorsing the president's renomination and reelection, but passed a resolution lending Trump the party's "undivided support." [The difference between a full endorsement and the symbolic show of unanimous support of the president among the party membership was one rooted in financial support (that an endorsement would have carried). But it should be noted that the RNC and the Trump reelection forces had already united by that point.]

Now, conditions are different in 2021 than they were in 2019. Trump is no longer the sitting president as he was then. Additionally, McDaniel's comments are not a reflection of any formal vote of the RNC membership (but merely a recitation of the party rules on the matter) as opposed to 2019. But in the end, formal or not, they mark a departure from the party's 2019 position and creates some light between the party and its (formal) former standard bearer. 

However, it will likely be Trump moving forward who will freeze the potential field of 2024 Republican candidates and not the Republican National Committee. But this is one to track as the invisible primary lurches forward. 


Recent posts: 


Wednesday, January 27, 2021

#InvisiblePrimary: Visible -- Hawley and Shermanesque/Sherman-ish Statements

--
Yesterday, Business Insider ran with a scoop that Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) had briefly answered that he was not running for president in 2024. Now, on the surface that is both a splashy comment and scoop from someone who had since the 2020 election neither been shy about his 2024 intentions nor inactive on what one might call the invisible primary front. And even if neither of those are exactly true, Hawley's name has been bandied about in 2024 chatter and his actions -- particularly around the electoral vote tabulation in a joint session of Congress -- have been interpreted through a 2024 invisible primary lens as an attempted play at the Trump end of the Republican Party spectrum.

But here is the thing: This is not Hawley's first time saying no to a 2024 run. CNN asked him that question back in November 2020. His response? "I'm not."

Neither blunt denial, however, is all that Shermanesque. "No, I'm not running," and "I'm not" are not definitive declinations. Both leave the door wide open to, if not a change of heart, then to simply saying something along the lines of "I wasn't running then, but I am now," later on down the line. The trick for the Shermanesque statement is always whether one can effectively add "yet" to the end of the turndown response.

Compare "No, I'm not running," with Sherman's "I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected." A "yet" can be added to the former but is much harder to tack onto the latter. Hawley, then, was not Shermanesque in either his November or January responses. 

But was he Sherman-ish? 

That is a different question spurred by a variation on the Shermanesque statement that gained some notoriety around the time of the 2018 midterms when the candidate side of the 2020 invisible primary was beginning to heat up. It was around that time that both Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) responded to 2020 questions with answers that looked like some variation on, "I intend to serve the full six years of my [Senate] term." Now, obviously, in O'Rourke's case that was rendered moot when he lost the election to Texas' incumbent, junior senator, Ted Cruz (R). But when he said it -- before the election -- serving the full Senate term was still at stake. 

But for Gillibrand, the statement, before and after the 2018 midterms, was not a clear denial. However, it, on the one hand, kind of painted her into a corner, but on the other, kept the door open to at least "exploring" a run for the 2020 Democratic nomination. The lengths of that exploration can be wide ranging. In her case, Gillibrand ran for 2020 -- and with a formal entry -- up until August 2019. But she never ran in 2020.

The key in the Sherman-ish statement is that "painting oneself into the corner" bit. It is not a definitive "no," but it does potentially set up roadblocks to entry later. No one wants to start a campaign off by having to answer "why did you change your mind/why are you abandoning your word and/or constituents to run?" questions (not that that is any serious obstacle).

The true measure of running or not running is less what the prospective candidates say and more about what they do. Follow those actions and one will get a much better sense of what is happening in the invisible primary. 

In Hawley's case, the statements have been neither Shermanesque nor Sherman-ish, but his actions have maybe pointed elsewhere. Yes, that includes his very public position-taking on the electoral college tabulation. But it also includes things like out-of state fundraisers (like the one that got canceled in Florida in the wake of the events of January 6).



Tuesday, January 26, 2021

A Presidential Primary in Lieu of Caucuses in Nevada?

Circling back to this from Michael Scherer at the Washington Post nearly two weeks ago. 

The prospect of a presidential primary in Nevada is nothing new. That was true before 2008 when the Silver state was added to the early state line up on the presidential primary calendar. Nevada was a primary state, after all, when it sought to encroach on New Hampshire's privileged position in the first post-reform cycle. It is true even in the window of time since Nevada was added to the group of carve-out states. Efforts to establish a Nevada presidential primary were derailed in part by Harry Reid at the end of the 2015 state legislative session. 

The common thread across those two actions separated by nearly 50 years was Reid. And after Iowa's caucus snafu in 2020, Reid was not shy about promoting the virtues of Nevada as an alternative first-in-the-nation option. And the former Senate majority leader reiterated the proposal as 2020 came to a close.

But such a change is easier said than done. 

Political actors on the state level in Nevada are likely to wait for cover from the national parties first (which is to say after the national parties set their 2024 rules next year). Party leaders in the Silver state may have, as WaPo reported, "taken steps to shift to a presidential primary in 2024," but the full contours of finalizing such a decision may have the party out in front of its skis a bit. A full-on switch from a caucus system to a primary may correctly anticipate a change that may come down from the DNC anyway: a mandate (or close to it) for state parties to utilize primaries rather than caucuses to select and allocate national convention delegates in the next cycle. 

Yet, that raises some additional questions. First, through what means will Nevada Democrats attempt to make the caucus-to-primary shift? Does the state party unilaterally make the decision and opt for a party-run process? Or does the party lean on the state legislature to establish a state-funded, state-run primary option? The former may provide the party with some latitude in dealing with New Hampshire in a prospective calendar race while the latter may not remain in Democratic control after the 2022 midterms. [Silver state Republicans may not be as receptive to a primary after then as they were in 2015.] 

And there may or may not be a fight with New Hampshire depending on what rules the DNC drafts for 2024 (especially if that includes a primary mandate and/or resets the early primary calendar order).

That brings this around to the second question. Assuming there will be a Nevada presidential primary in some form or another in 2024, where will that primary fall on the calendar? The shift to a primary is something that can be done legislatively or through the state party before the national party rules are set. [The Nevada legislature is due to gavel in on February 1, but no legislation has been filed in advance to shift to a presidential primary.] But timing that contest is trickier. Again, it is here where national party cover may come in handy. If one or both of the national parties rejiggers the beginning of the calendar and Nevada claims that spot, then either the state party or the state government can move to schedule the contest early (or earlier than New Hampshire).

What is clear is that there is a sequence to all of this. Nevada Democrats could shift to a primary early on with or without any mandate from the national party. In fact, Silver state Democrats could use that as an argument to the DNC as to why they are prepared and ready to move into a bigger/earlier spot in the limelight. But only after having made that switch can (or will) the party move to schedule the contest. If both happen simultaneously, then it will all happen in 2023. But Nevada -- either the state legislature or state parties -- could act now to shift to a primary only to schedule it later when effective penalties are in place to deal with any rogue states (Iowa and/or New Hampshire).

All of this is speculative at this point in any event. The regular rhythm to this sequence is for the national parties to spend the year and a half after the presidential election year retrospectively considering the pros and cons of the previous cycle's primary season and making rules for the next cycle. Only then, in the year following the midterm elections, do state parties and state governments react and make their plans for the cycle in view of those rules/rules changes. There are exceptions to those rules, but they are rare. 

But this "which early states?" question will come up in the coming weeks and months. And Nevada will likely be a part of the discussion. 



Monday, January 25, 2021

Iowa, Democrats and 2024

Yes, it is still true that no one really wants to talk about 2024 right now. Yet, there was NPR, in the wake of Jaime Harrison's election as DNC chair, with a story over the weekend discussing Iowa's chances of retaining the first-in-the-nation caucuses in the next cycle. 

And while FHQ will agree that it is probably too early for most, it is also true that this question is not new. Iowa's place at the front of the primary and caucus queue comes up to varying degrees every four years. And with each passing cycle, Iowa, not to mention New Hampshire (and since 2008, Nevada and South Carolina), continue to hold down their privileged positions. But the Iowa-in-2024 question specifically is not new either. That question was agitated into prominence before the results were even clear in the 2020 caucuses. In fact, the world continues to wait for an AP call in the race that never came. 

Those snafus understandably brought out caucus opponents and small-d democracy advocates, but there was enough blame to go around. It was not just Iowa. Nor was it specifically the caucus system. The DNC also played a role in doing its (continued) due diligence around the security of the problematic smartphone app that fueled the issues. However, the confluence of issues, in the abstract, seems like a potential inflection point in the generation-plus long history of the caucuses in the Hawkeye state. And if not that, then a fitting bookend to a process that has come to be seen as outdated in a state, the Democratic electorate of which does not exactly conform to the current make-up of the broader Democratic Party.

But as an exhausted electorate shies away from talk of another electoral cycle on the heels of a marathon 2020 blitzkrieg, the question remains: What will come of Iowa's caucuses in 2024? Fitting though the bookend may have been after 2020 and however outdated the caucus process may seem, there still remain some institutional factors that will help Iowa maintain its position or make it more of an uphill climb to replace than some think. Again, it is more complex than: 
Step 1: the caucuses are bad 
Step 2: ???? 
Step 3: Iowa suddenly has a primary and/or it is later in the primary order.

In the days in early February 2020 after the caucusing had stopped in Iowa and the count continued, FHQ penned a piece at the Monkey Cage outlining some of the institutional barriers to changing the early calendar. While most of it holds up reasonably well, things have obviously changed in the months since those Iowa caucuses that may or may not influence that previous outlook. But first things first: a quick review of those institutional barriers. 

First, Iowa Democrats are not likely to go quiet into that good night. The party is likely to argue that the DNC is better with the devil they know than the one they do not. In other words, even with its supposed warts, Iowa is still a safer or more certain alternative than some other state. A cost-benefit analysis version of that argument would be something along the lines of, "The start up costs elsewhere are potentially more 'expensive' than dealing with the 'tweaks' Iowa Democrats would employ to improve their system." Yes, one's mileage may vary on the true balance between those two ends of the ledger. 

Second, the DNC plays a role in all of this as well. In fact, the national party is the group to whom Iowa Democrats would be pitching the argument above. And it is there -- at the national party level -- where things have evolved the most over the last eleven months. While it is clear that there will be a robust discussion over the next two years around Iowa and the others among the early state group, it is not yet clear where things will end up. 

National parties like certainty, but they also want to at least appear sometimes to be responsive to needs if not problems within the presidential nomination process. It was, after all, inter-cycle commissions that both created and eliminated superdelegates in the nomination process. In a global sense, both moves were made by a party sensitive to the balance between the interests of the party elites and those of the grassroots in the nomination process. But a more narrow view holds that the party was merely righting a perceived wrong from the previous cycle. 

The perception of an Iowa problem is very real at the outset of the 2024 invisible primary and there will definitely be pressure to make a change based on 2020. But long term, the DNC will again look to what the proper balance should be and whether a change is prudent. 

Third, part of that calculus will hinge on what Republicans do with their own early calendar line up. No, there is nothing -- no law or rule whether formal or informal -- that says both parties should have the same early calendar. In fact, they already do not. Democrats place Nevada third in the order and South Carolina fourth while Republicans flip them on their early calendar. Yet, breaking up those first two states in the order across both parties is potentially fraught with disruptions to the current incentive structure. For Democrats to drop Iowa from its current perch while Iowa Republicans retain their position is to give incentive to Iowa Democrats to not only band together with their Hawkeye brethren but to possibly go rogue in 2024 as well. The national parties -- especially the DNC in this case -- would rather deal (relatively) quietly with this now rather than invite trouble later that is amplified in the lead up to primary season later. Of course, dealing with it quietly outside of the spotlight could mean keeping Iowa where it is under the condition that changes are made -- preserving the status quo -- or making a change while threatening to penalize the state party back to the stone age should it go rogue. The former upsets a lot of vocal critics while the latter does not necessarily guarantee compliance. 

But that incentive structure remains more intact if the two major parties can agree, formally or otherwise, to an early calendar order. If both were to hypothetically remove Iowa, then one state party would not have the opening to resist if just one party did. FHQ would not count this as a huge concern -- partisans will argue that no party should listen to or wait on the actions of the other -- but it is a part of the overall calculus on this question. 

Finally, if not Iowa then whom? Who takes the Hawkeye state's place atop the calendar should one or both parties move to replace the caucuses? Again, Iowa will fight for its position and argue that even with the problems, it is a safer bet than some unknown alternative. If the line is long to replace Iowa and the arguments for a replacement are diffuse (other than a not Iowa thread), then the case may be harder to make. Then it becomes a discussion of what the party wants represented at that beginning of the calendar. Defining those goals is no small task for either the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee or the full DNC for that matter. If keeping Iowa (with tweaks) is easier than that task -- and often persisting with the status quo ante is -- then that may go a long way toward answering this question. 

But allow FHQ to close by focusing on the one thing that has changed since last February. Joe Biden is now president. 

Typically those are times when a party will more or less rest on its laurels, carrying over the rules from the previous cycle. But it is not clear that that is what will happen in this case. What tends to gum up the works on primary rules changes in those instances is that the party of a newly-elected, first time president often maintains the rules that got that president to the nomination. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. But Biden, as many have noted, did not benefit from either Iowa or New Hampshire. Neither was instrumental in his ascent to the nomination. 

While neither may have been instrumental to Biden's nomination victory, it may be more of a fight (see above) than the party or the president wants to take on. And some of this will be colored by the intentions of the president himself. If Biden opts to run again and the field look clear otherwise, then it could honestly go either way (pending some of the other considerations). The DNC could pull the trigger on a change in a cycle with little to nothing on the line and usher in a new era. Alternatively, it could just leave well enough alone and leave that battle for a time ahead of a more active nomination race. And without regard to how active a forthcoming nomination race will be, the party could also opt to punt on the question. 

But punting may not be an easy option if Biden signals that he will not run for renomination, opening the door to prospective candidates and their surrogates pithing the DNC/DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee lobbying for change. No such overt signal, however, is likely to come before the midterm elections and thus will come after the 2024 rules (including the calendar order) are in place. 

One thing that FHQ is particularly keen to see is how Iowa argues on its behalf. Yes, they will make the obvious play as described above (years of trial and error here are better than going with something uncertain elsewhere). But that may not be where things stop. How much do Iowa Democrats raise the heavy hand of the DNC in the problems of 2020? "But for the issues the national party (rightly or wrongly) raised, we (Iowa) could have pulled off a more seamless set of caucuses across the state." How effective Iowa Democrats are at making that argument and leveraging that against the DNC may go some way toward answering this quadrennial question for the 2024 cycle. 

Regardless, one thing is for certain: There will be a thorough discussion of Iowa's place among the early states and the early line up as well in the months ahead. Whether change is imminent there depends on the desire for change on one hand and the institutional barrier in place on the other. It is easy to call on Iowa to be replaced, but another to actually do it. But as was the case in the time after 2016, the same things were said about reducing the influence of superdelegates. Change happened on that front, but the conditions are different heading into 2024 than they were ahead of 2020. 


Friday, January 22, 2021

The 2020 Electoral College Spectrum

Final version (certified results) 



The 2020 Electoral College Spectrum1
DC-3
VT-3
(6)2
IL-20
(162)
NV-6
(249)
AK-3
(125)
TN-11
(60)
MA-11
(17)
OR-7
(169)
PA-203
(269 | 289)
SC-9
(122)
AL-9
(49)
MD-10
(27)
NJ-14
(183)
WI-103
(273 | 269)
KS-6
(113)
KY-8
(40)
HI-4
(31)
CO-9
(192)
AZ-11
(308 | 259)
NE CD1-1
MO-10
(107)
SD-3
(32)
CA-55
(86)
NM-5
(197)
GA-16
(319 | 248)
IN-11
(96)
AR-6
(29)
NY-29
(115)
VA-13
(210)
NC-15
(232)
MT-3
(85)
ID-4
(23)
ME CD1-1
RI-4
(120)
ME-2
(212)
FL-29
(217)
MS-6
(82)
OK-7
(19)
CT-7
(127)
NH-4
(216)
TX-38
(188)
LA-8
(76)
ND-3
(12)
WA-12
(139)
MN-10
NE CD2-1
(227)
ME CD2-1
OH-18
(150)
NE-2
(68)
WV-5
(9)
DE-3
(142)
MI-16
(243)
IA-6
(131)
UT-6
(66)
WY-3
NE CD3-1
(4)
1 Follow the link for a detailed explanation on how to read the Electoral College Spectrum.

2 The numbers in the parentheses refer to the number of electoral votes a candidate would have if he or she won all the states ranked prior to that state. If, for example, Trump won all the states up to and including Pennsylvania (Biden's toss up states through Pennsylvania), he would have 289 electoral votes. Trump's numbers are only totaled through the states he would need in order to get to 270. In those cases, Biden's number is on the left and Trump's is on the right in bold italics.

3 Pennsylvania and Wisconsin
 are the states where Biden crossed the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidential election, the tipping point states in the order. The tipping point cells are shaded in yellow to denote that and the font color is adjusted to attempt to reflect the category in which the state is.

More analysis to come.


Thursday, January 21, 2021

#InvisiblePrimary: Visible -- Biden Running for Re-election

Four years after President Trump immediately upon being inaugurated filed to run for re-election in 2020, surrogates of President Biden took a verbal although not formal step in the same direction. 

Senator Chris Coons (D), the newly inaugurated president's fellow Delawarean, let Politico know very simply that, "He is planning to run again."

Now, part or perhaps all of this feels obligatory. No president wants to kick off his or her term as a lame duck. That gives both Congress and the bureaucracy license to dig in over time and resist or obstruct changes both big and small. This move, then, heads that off, albeit likely only temporarily. 

It also holds at bay other prospective Democrats waiting in the wings. That group, including the newly installed vice president, now has to take an even more wait-and-see approach to any possible 2024 run for the Democratic nomination. But unlike Congress and the bureaucratic end of the executive branch, those potential candidates still have time. And while there may be a flurry of early activity on the rules side for 2024 among Democrats, the majority of visible invisible primary activity is going to continue to occur among the Republicans who are likely to seek the party's nomination in likely just two years time. 

So candidate emergence, to the extent it is going to continue happening as 2024 slowly approaches is going to be a mostly Republican action. 


Recent posts: 

A Few Notes on the 2024 Presidential Primary Calendar

 On the first full day of the newly sworn-in Biden administration and a day after the 2020 election cycle came to a close at the federal level, the invisible primary quietly trundled on toward the next presidential cycle. No, not everyone is ready to begin listening to or reading chatter about 2024, but it is happening. And while FHQ has made some passing mention of 2024 activities on social media in early 2021 (and before), we will begin where we often do: with a particular focus on the 2024 presidential primary calendar.

Yes, there is a very long way to go -- 1110 days until (tentative) Iowa caucuses on February 5, 2024 -- but as in the past, since-passed cycles offer a window into what the starting baseline calendar will (probably might) look like in roughly three years time. State laws continue to provide the most guidance as to when the majority of states will hold their delegate selection events next time around. Those laws can, and in some cases will, change over the next few years. But for now, the statutes are the statutes. 

Here are a few things to bear in mind about this initial iteration of the 2024 calendar early in this current invisible primary:

1. For starters, the four early states have no official dates yet. They are always among (if not) the last states to settle the dates for their contests. But the national parties have done a reasonable job during the 2016 and 2020 cycles of informally coordinating the calendar and keeping potential rogue states outside of  Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina in line. If one assumes that that holds in 2024, then one can project where those protected four states will end up. 

Iowa would kick things off on February 5 with the primary in New Hampshire following eight days later on February 13 based on the last couple of cycles. Now, moving on to Nevada and South Carolina is where things get a bit messier. While the two parties have agreed that Nevada and South Carolina would be among the earliest group of states, they have yet to agree on how to order the pair of states added to the early calendar for the first time in 2008. Democrats have tended to slot the Silver state caucuses third and the Palmetto state primary fourth, just before Super Tuesday. But Republicans, on the other hand, have always placed South Carolina's first-in-the-South primary third with Nevada bringing up the early calendar rear. 

When both parties have competitive nomination races -- not a given for 2024 -- then the South Carolina Republican primary and Nevada Democratic caucuses have tended to fall on the same date. But the Nevada Republican caucuses have been less settled. FHQ has opted to tentatively place it alongside the Democratic caucuses in the Silver state to start for a couple of reasons. One is that those Republican caucuses have been all over the place on the calendar. But second, there is also talk of a transition to a primary in Nevada. Such a move would make it more likely that the Democratic and Republican contests would fall on the same date as in the vast majority of primary states. But again, that would potentially leave the very date on which that contest falls more uncertain. 

That is why these dates on the FHQ calendar are all tentative (based on past information) at this point. All of this, including the order, number and identity of the early states (if any) on any rules the two national parties finalize in the summer of 2022. 


2. There are also at this time a couple of states -- Louisiana and New York -- that have contests on the books that would run afoul of the (likely) national party delegate selection rules. And both are a function of local quirks. New York is seemingly the biggest threat on February 6, a day after tentative Iowa caucuses. But since 2008, when New York held a then-compliant primary on the first Tuesday in February, it has been the custom for the New York legislature to leave the February date as is until late in the legislative session the year before the presidential election. It is then, typically in June, that the legislature in consultation with the state parties drafts legislation to codify the delegate selection plan for both parties. Any law enacted thereafter expires at the end of the presidential election year (December 31) and the whole cycle begins anew. The Empire state, then, while scheduled for February 6 is currently non-compliant but no risk of going rogue. 

The quirk in Louisiana is but a calendar/cycle quirk. The presidential primary in the Pelican state is scheduled for the first Saturday in March. In most cycles, that position follows the first Tuesday in March when non-carve-out states are allowed by the national parties to begin holding primaries and caucuses. In 2024, however, the first Saturday of March precedes that first Tuesday in March. This is a small fix and will likely be reviewed in 2023, but the Louisiana primary as currently scheduled by state law would be non-compliant under the likely national party rules. 

All in all, this is a very limited group of rogue (but not really rogue) states to begin the cycle. Both are easy or routine fixes that will end up being non-controversial. 


3. Most of the states without official contest dates are caucus states or party-run primary states. Among that group, dates are rarely set in state party rules. Hawaii Republicans are the exception to that rule. Most state parties wait until the year before the presidential election to set a timeline for delegate selection in the plans they submit to the national parties for a green light. 

But there are also a handful of states and/or territories where the primary dates are unresolved on purpose. Georgia's legislature ceded the date-setting authority for its primary to the secretary of state for the 2012 cycle. That is akin to how New Hampshire handles the scheduling of its primary. And the primary in the Peach state can fall any time before the second Tuesday in June. In Puerto Rico, Republicans have tended to eschew one presidential primary law -- the one on which territorial Democrats rely -- for another that allows similar latitude to the territorial party in this case to set the date of the Republican primary. The party there similar to the secretary of state in Georgia can set the date for any date (including non-Tuesdays) under that alternative presidential primary law. 


4. Bear in mind that all of this is in flux. Some of these laws will change. In fact, there were a handful of states in 2020 that explored different dates, but none of them made any changes. That may give some indication of future maneuvering, but typically that action will not occur until 2023. That does not mean that there will not be legislation, successful or otherwise, that will will be introduced between now and then. But such legislation is rarely successful. The most urgency on the scheduling of primaries and caucuses comes after the national parties finalize their rules for the cycle and during the state legislative sessions that begin following the midterm elections.