Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Launch Week Continues & Biden and the Iowa "Caucuses"

Invisible Primary: Visible -- Thoughts on the invisible primary and links to the goings on of the moment as 2024 approaches...

First, over at FHQ Plus...
  • With state legislative sessions winding down, things have gotten kind of quiet in terms of the primary calendar and rules for 2024. But that does not mean that nothing has been going on. In fact, it is picking up once more with some big-ish changes to delegate allocation for New York RepublicansAll the details at FHQ Plus.
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In Invisible Primary: Visible today...
President Biden appearing on any state's primary or caucus ballot next year will depend entirely on whether the state party in question is conducting or involved in a noncompliant contest. That is clear and has been clear for some time. The president has stood behind a primary calendar change for 2024 that disrupts the standard positions that both Iowa and New Hampshire have occupied on the calendar for half of a century. But when those changes are combined with rules that also create penalties on candidates who campaign in states that break those rules, it makes things look rather ominous with respect to president's participation. After all, it is unlikely that a president is going break the rules of the party he leads to campaign in some rogue contest. 

But that did not deter Biden challenger, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. from saying this to radio host Michael Smerconish in an interview on Monday, June 5:
“I think that President Biden is not going to even put his name in Iowa and New Hampshire. So I think he’s not even going to compete,” Kennedy added.
However, Kennedy is like others who have fallen into the trap of expecting Iowa and New Hampshire to behave the same in the face of changes that strip them both of their customary positions. New Hampshire Democrats have clearly been defiant. But Iowa Democrats have not been. Not yet anyway. And signs pretty clearly point toward an Iowa Democratic Party that is trying to thread a needle with their 2024 process. Those signs indicate a likely compliant preference vote. 

And if that all-mail preference vote occurs at a compliant point on the calendar, then Biden will be on the ballot. If not, well, he will not be. But no one -- not even RFK Jr. -- has an answer to that yet. And as for competing beyond merely being on the ballot, Biden will likely do what most incumbent presidents do in terms of campaigning in compliant contest states.

On Christie's launch day, Jonathan Bernstein has a good one up at Bloomberg chock full of advice on how the former New Jersey governor can run a productive campaign despite not having any real chance to win (based on the typical horserace standards).

FHQ was at least somewhat skeptical in Invisible Primary: Visible last week about an NBC News look at the potential failings of canvassing on the Republican side. Derek Willis has provided some good additional perspective on the matter in terms of expenditures on those GOTV efforts in the DDHQ newsletter this week. 
The grumbling in the NBC story about the GOP's canvassing operations - "That’s why we’re losing elections," one anonymous source is quoted as saying - doesn't sound like sour grapes from a competing consultant. But it's also not clear to an outsider how effective paid canvassing is, especially in the final weeks of the campaign. 
One thing is pretty certain: paid canvassing isn't going away, and one important reason why is primary elections, where a party apparatus usually isn't available to help pull in volunteers.

Invisible Primary quick hits:
  • Former Vice President Mike Pence filed paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission on Monday to run for president ahead of his Iowa launch on Wednesday, June 7.
  • Taking a different route than most recent prospective presidential candidates, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu opted not to run for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, calling on candidates to "not get into this race to further a vanity campaign, to sell books or to audition to serve as Donald Trump’s vice president." Seth Masket has more on Sununu's decision at Tusk. But the University of New Hampshire's Dante Scala pushed back on any impact Sununu would have had one way or the other. All FHQ would add is that a Sununu entry was very unlikely to make New Hampshire irrelevant for 2024. He has basically been flirting with the delegate qualifying threshold (10 percent) in public opinion polling in the Granite state. Sununu is no Tom Harkin in Iowa, circa 1992. He was not deterring anyone.
  • On the other hand, North Dakota Republican Governor Doug Burgum has a new extended video out ahead of his announcement on Wednesday, June 7.

On this date...
...in 1972, South Dakota Senator George McGovern swept the Democratic primaries (or won more delegates) in California, New Jersey, New Mexico and his home state of South Dakota. The backstory on the New Jersey primary is a wild read more than 50 years on. 

...in 2000, Texas Governor George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore both won primaries in Alabama, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota to end primary season.

...in 2011, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum announced his candidacy for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

...in 2020, former Vice President Joe Biden won caucuses in Guam and the Virgin Islands.


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