Showing posts with label 2014 midterm elections. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2014 midterm elections. Show all posts

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Post-2014 State Government Partisan Control and 2016 Presidential Primary Movement

Four years ago, the story coming out of the 2010 midterm elections was what newly Republican-controlled state governments would do in power. The tale from the 2014 postmortems has been much the same. Indeed, Republicans now control both chambers of state legislatures and gubernatorial seats in 23 states (see map below).1 That can and will have a significant impact on policy-making in states covering most of the regions of the country.

It could also influence the way in which the 2016 presidential primary calendar develops and hardens throughout 2015.

Whether a state government is unified or divided along partisan lines is a factor in the calculus that state governmental actors go through when making the decision to shift the date of the state's presidential primary.2 Again, Republicans have stretched their advantage in state government over the last four years. Yet, conditions are different in 2011 than they are in 2015. State governmental control may play a role in any subsequent primary movement, but it plays a smaller role than other factors.

That is consistent with what FHQ has found for the 1976-2008 period. Throughout that span structural, state-level factors played a much larger role in the determination to shift the date of a primary. For instance, a state such as Arkansas in 2015 is forced to decide between moving the presidential primary together with the primaries for state and local offices or creating a separate presidential primary election that can be moved more easily but incurs the cost of funding that new, separate election. That is a sterner test than in a state like Florida where the presidential primary was separate at the outset of the post-reform era. The costs of moving are greater in Arkansas than in Florida.

Incumbency in the White House also matters in this calculus. This may differ in the currently more polarized era, but in the 1976-2008 period, the floodgates have tended to open up in terms of primary movement in years in which both parties have competitive presidential nomination races. In other words, if there is no incumbent seeking reelection, both parties members in state government are potentially more motivated to help their party -- whether candidates, their state or the partisan voters in the state -- to gain some advantage. Actors on the state governmental level are hypothetically more cautious when an incumbent is running for reelection. Partisan conflicts are more likely to occur when one party is attempting to reelect a president while the other is trying to determine which candidate would be best suited to unseating that incumbent. The I'll scratch your back if you'll scratch mine mindset gives way to its every man for himself.

The interesting thing is that the 2012 and 2016 cycles may break from that pattern to some extent. 2012 saw a significant amount of primary movement for a year in which an incumbent was seeking reelection. By comparison, 2016 is off to a much slower start (despite both parties having open nomination contests). The reason is the semi-coordinated rules changes between 2008 and 2012. Both the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee allowed states to hold delegate selection events in February for the 2008 cycle.3 That resulted in a primary calendar in 2008 that began on the heels of New Years, stretching the calendar and in some respects the process out. Neither wanted repeat of that in 2012. The solution was an informal agreement to shift the start point back to February with the majority of states -- those other than the four carve-out states -- being restricted to March or later dates.

That change put 18 primary states in the national parties' crosshairs in January 2011. 18 states had laws calling for February (or earlier) presidential primaries. That significantly reshaped the primary movement calculus in those states. Those states had to move in order to comply with the new rules and avoid the penalties associated with violating them.

As the map below demonstrates, that same pressure from the national parties will not exist in 2015 as the 2016 primary calendar is being finalized in state capitals across the country. There are only three states -- Michigan, New York and North Carolina -- that are officially slated to hold non-compliant presidential primaries in 2016. Michigan has already signaled that a move to March is likely there. And New York is only back in February because the 2011 primary date change was passed with a sunset provision. That leaves only North Carolina.

...and other states that might want to go rogue, breaking the national parties' rules on timing.

But that brings us back full circle to the unified control factor.

One could hypothesize that with so many Republican-controlled states and a significant increase in the Republican penalty associated with holding a pre-March primary (or caucus) that the stars have potentially aligned to produce an orderly primary calendar. Perhaps put more precisely, the parties may have devised the best way of combatting such frontloading activity than has been the case in the past.

There are 23 Republican-controlled states that the more severe RNC penalty may help keep in line. Past scofflaws (and Republican-controlled states) -- Arizona, Florida and Michigan -- have either disarmed or look to be in the process of disarming. However, attempts at going rogue during the 2016 cycle have thus far occurred in Republican-controlled states (Arizona, North Carolina and Utah). The fact that Arizona is on both lists says something about intra-party divisions. That is not something confined to just Arizona either. North Carolina has seen a number of issues put its Republican-controlled Senate at odds with its Republican-controlled House. On the surface, then, it may look as if the combination of more severe RNC penalties and an expansion of Republican-controlled states would help reign in any potential 2016 rogues. But it is more complicated than that.

If we really want to see the potential impact of partisan control of state governments on this process, the best test may not in Republican states where there is a willingness to break the rules. Rather, the better test may be in Republican-controlled states and the ease with which they form regional and subregional primaries.

1 That is a slight increase over the 20 state governments the Republican Party controlled following the 2010 elections.

2 To see a similar examination of these factor from 2011 see here and here.

3 That was not new in 2008. Both parties allowed February contests in 2004, but only the Democratic Party had a nomination race that cycle.

Recent Posts:
If Primary Season Began Today: A Note on the 2016 Presidential Primary Calendar

RNC memo gives Iowa Straw Poll a green light

Arizona Bill Introduced to Again Attempt to Schedule Presidential Primary on Iowa Caucuses Date

Are you following FHQ on TwitterGoogle+ and Facebook? Click on the links to join in.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

2014 Senate Forecast

Over the weekend, FHQ could not resist the urge to pull the available polling data on the 36 senate races of 2014 and run them through the graduated weighted polling averages we use during presidential general elections to forecast the electoral college. No, there is no shortage of these predictions, but as is FHQ's wont, we like to see how well a simpler method of aggregation and analysis stacks up against the other models. Surprisingly or not, there is some convergence between these models on election day 2014.

FHQ is no different in showing that:
1) There is a band of around 10 states with competitive senate races (seen in lighter shades of blue and red on the map below).
2) Some are more competitive than others. Kentucky, for instance, is less competitive than, say, Colorado or North Carolina.
3) Most of the competitive states -- 7 out of 10 -- favor the Republicans.

4) There is a rough order to the states as far as their average margins are concerned (overall and the more competitive states in gray in the figure of final average margins below). With all the polling data in, that indicates that Colorado, Iowa, Alaska, Kansas and North Carolina are the states to watch this evening as the returns come in. There are still 8 states with races within 3%.
5) Republicans look poised to pick up seats in Montana, West Virginia and South Dakota with Kentucky looking likely to join that group.
6) If Republicans win the 15 states in which they are ahead in the averages by more than 10% then they will be sitting at 45 seats. Add Kentucky and that number increases to 46.

7) Even when the possible implications of runoff elections in Louisiana and Georgia are factored in, Republican candidates are ahead in Arkansas and more narrowly in Colorado, Iowa and Alaska. Those four, if they follow the FHQ projections, would put the Republicans at 50 seats.
8) A Republican Senate majority would then depend on either Roberts/Orman race in Kansas and/or the two runoff states.
9) That does not take into account the possibility of Republican candidates running ahead of their averages in other competitive states, North Carolina and New Hampshire. In both, polls will close early and give a quick indication of whether the Republican tide has pushed to include the more competitive but persistently blue states (given the polling) this cycle.
10) There is more uncertainty about the path Republicans could take to the Senate majority than whether they will take that majority. FHQ projects Republicans will pick up 8 seats (Montana, West Virginia, South Dakota, Louisiana, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa and Alaska) while losing Kansas. FHQ also projects Democrats to hold New Hampshire and North Carolina. If there are runoff elections in Louisiana and Georgia, Republicans would be sitting on 50 seats needing one those runoff states to claim the majority.
11) FHQ projects 52 seats for the Republicans and 45 seats for the Democrats with three independents when it is all said and done and the new congress is fully sworn in next January.

Recent Posts:
Michigan Bill Would Undermine February Presidential Primary

Michigan Republicans Green Light March15, but...

Arizona Should Replace Iowa at the Front of the Presidential Primary Queue?

Are you following FHQ on TwitterGoogle+ and Facebook? Click on the links to join in.