Thursday, June 15, 2023

Who ends up embarrassed if Iowa and New Hampshire go rogue in 2024?

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...
  • In case you missed it, Idaho Republicans have a pair of proposals the state party is considering for earlier than usual delegate allocation and selection in the Gem state in 2024. All the details at FHQ Plus.
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In Invisible Primary: Visible today...
FHQ has decreasingly little patience for clickbait that masquerades as a story about the primary calendar. And that is what this latest piece from Alex Thompson at Axios is: clickbait. The only thing new in there to most folks who do not obsessively follow the ins and outs of the calendar is that the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee is meeting Friday, June 16 to start the process of reviewing 2024 delegate selection plans submitted by the state parties. 

No, I could not even get through the headline before I got cranky about it. 

Headline: Biden could lose first two ’24 contests to RFK Jr.

I mean, Thompson ultimately points out what other reporting has revealed. That Presidential Biden will not be on the ballot in any rogue state in 2024. Yet, somehow that is the headline. 

Remember when the Denver Nuggets recently lost the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals to the Vegas Golden Knights? Neither do I. The Nuggets were not on the ice. They were not facing off against the Knights. That may not be fair. That may not be a good analogy. But come on. Biden cannot lose a contest where he is not on the ballot. That is not to say Robert F. Kennedy Jr. cannot win those contests, but he will not have beaten Biden in so doing. 

And that leads to... "That sets up a scenario in which Robert F. Kennedy Jr. or another long-shot Democrat could win those states — and embarrass the president."

Maybe it would be embarrassing to Team Biden if some fringe candidate were to win one or two rogue contests. It would not affect the president much in the delegate count. There will not be any delegates at stake in any rogue state contests. But it would not necessarily be a good look for the president in the court of public opinion as the Republican primary season kicks off. Press accounts on this story really seem to like this angle. It promises future drama. 

But again, do you know who is going to be more embarrassed than the president and his campaign that Kennedy or Williamson or whomever wins rogue Iowa or New Hampshire? Democrats in Iowa and New Hampshire

Here is that scenario: 
1) Your state party just defied the national party rules to stick with tradition and hold early contests. 

2) Those same state parties "embarrass" the president that the broader party network is trying to reelect for the short term benefit of going first. 

3) Someone other than the president wins Iowa and/or New Hampshire.

4) Those state parties pitch the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee -- the same one that rejected them for 2024 and whose rules those two states defied in response, leading to the 'embarrassment" of the president the whole party was trying to reelect -- on being a part of the early window of states for 2028. 

Who exactly is embarrassed in that scenario? In the long term, probably Iowa and New Hampshire. 

...should either or both go rogue. But that part of the story rarely sees the light of day in most press accounts.

But what about Iowa and/or New Hampshire? There is an important difference between those two; in how Democrats in each have reacted since the DNC adopted the calendar rules back in February.

Thompson does eventually get around to that too: "Iowa Democrats haven't been as publicly hostile over Biden's move. But in the past two months they've quietly moved to hold their contest the same day as Iowa Republicans — in January, but with a mail-in option for ballots."

So close. So very close. Yes, Iowa Democrats have behaved demonstrably differently than their peers in New Hampshire. Aside from the fact that Rules and Bylaws is meeting on Friday, that is -- or should be -- the lede here. But no, it gets buried in the piece and is followed by the overly dramatic and misleading "but they're going to caucus early anyway."

Yes, Iowa Democrats will caucus on the same night as Iowa Republicans some time next January. But we do not yet know when the vote-by-mail preference vote will occur. And by extension we do not yet know when delegates will be allocated. That is the important action that both the president and the DNC are and will be looking at. The delegate allocation

That is not to be confused with delegate selection which is proposed to start in Iowa at those January Democratic caucuses. Early selection is not a rogue activity in the eyes of the DNC. Perhaps this likening of delegate allocation/selection to getting and distributing Taylor Swift tickets would be helpful to Mr. Thompson (and others).

I get it. Drama gets folks to click. 

And while there is drama in the process of the 2024 presidential primary calendar coming together, it need not be overly and misleadingly amplified. That is what this story does. And it is not alone. There are others out there and they pop up in every cycle in which an incumbent is seeking reelection. The prospect of a ho-hum, incumbent renomination phase is not ideal for attention-grabbing headlines or stories. Remember those stories about all those Republican primaries and caucuses that got cancelled in 2019-20? They were built up in a similar fashion in the context of Trump's reelection efforts. It was a story, but one that only really only ultimately appealed to calendar/rules nerds like FHQ.  

At the end of the day, there just is not a lot of news in incumbents vying for renomination. Those folks tend to be pretty popular, or at least, popular enough within their own party. If they are not, it tends to draw legitimate challengers into the race. But there are no legitimate challengers in the race for the 2024 Democratic presidential nomination. And that is mostly boring. Just like Joe Biden.  

Seth Masket is good here on Trump and his opponents taking a position on pardoning the former president.

From around the invisible primary...

On this date... 2015, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush formally entered the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.


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