Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Invisible Primary: Visible -- Think, for just a sec, about those early presidential primary polls

Thoughts on the invisible primary and links to the goings on of the moment as 2024 approaches...

FHQ has not weighed in on the polling that continues to be conducted on the 2024 Republican presidential nomination race. Honestly, it takes me three and a half years to get over crunching poll numbers for electoral college projections to want to dig into polling in any in-depth way anyway. But also, it is too early to divine much of anything from the polling that has been coming out in recent days. 

However, polling on that race is coming out frequently and regularly enough. Natalie Jackson offers some sage advice on those surveys over at National Journal:
I know better than to hope for widespread sanity in reporting on the horse race, but I’m still going to put out the plea. Please think critically about the numbers and arguments presented, whether you’re a reporter being fed numbers by a partisan pollster that is shopping them around or you’re a reader consuming what that reporter wrote up. There’s a reason some media outlets won’t report on private partisan polls: They’re usually being distributed for a specific purpose to drive a narrative that benefits their candidate. It’s manipulative, not informative.
It is not quite "ignore those polls!" in the Bernsteinian sense, but instead it is "wait a tick and think some about those polls before incorporating them in any way into one's thinking about the 2024 Republican race." Too true. If you have not already started, always read Natalie.

And as an aside, she is absolutely right about any two-way polls (something FHQ obliquely hinted at in the staff primary section of Monday's Invisible Primary: Visible). Those should not get anything other than a collective eyeroll from everyone. There is no two-way race!

Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is headed to the Super Tuesday state of Utah next month to keynote the Republican state convention in the Beehive state. And it appears that there is already evidence of some structural support for a DeSantis bid in the state. No, it is not necessarily coming from the state party -- although the keynote in front of the convention does not say nothing -- but instead, the interest is coming from the county party level. Taking a page out of Seth Masket's book, the Deseret News spoke with county Republican chairs in 22 of the 29 counties in Utah. Two-thirds of the chairs contacted indicated they were willing to support DeSantis while just fewer than half named Trump.

The former president struggled in Utah during the 2016 primaries when the state party conducted caucuses, losing bigly to Ted Cruz. But the state has subsequently switched to a primary and the signal of institutional support for DeSantis may or may not translate as easily -- even from the county level -- in that setting as opposed to caucuses. Utah is a sleeper contest to watch on Super Tuesday (...depending, of course, on how the early contests go, not to mention the remainder of the invisible primary).

The effort to establish a presidential primary in Kansas is a Republican-driven one, but it looks like the Democratic Party in the Sunflower state is supportive of the change (even if it is only for the 2024 cycle):
"The Kansas Democratic Party has expressed tentative support for a state-run primary. Newly-elected chair Jeanna Repass said it’s extremely expensive for the party to essentially conduct its own statewide election. She said if the party holds a caucus using a mail-in ballot, the printing and postage would cost upwards of $800,000. 
“'Initially, we view this favorably because of the undue financial burden this puts on the individual state parties to run a presidential primary,' Repass said."
And it is not just about the cost savings to the state party. The national party has had rules in place the last two cycles that have nudged state Democratic parties to use state-run primary options where available to increase participation in the nomination process. Already in 2023, state parties in Alaska and North Dakota -- traditional caucus states with no state-run primary option -- have signaled that they will once again opt for party-run primaries rather than lower turnout caucuses for 2024. Kansas Democrats did the same in 2020. So it was an open question when the presidential primary bill was introduced whether Sunflower state Democrats would jump at the state-run option. 

That question appears to have been answered. 

On this date... 1988, Vice President George H.W. Bush ran away with the Connecticut primary, and on the Democratic side, Michael Dukakis took the primary in the Nutmeg state. Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-MO) withdrew from the Democratic nomination race after having previously won three contests including the Iowa caucuses. 2016, Governor Scott Walker (R) endorsed Ted Cruz for the Republican presidential nomination, part of a late establishment push against a possible Donald Trump nomination.

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