Showing posts with label FHQ Plus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label FHQ Plus. Show all posts

Saturday, May 27, 2023

[From FHQ Plus] The Trump Trial and the Primary Calendar

The following is cross-posted from FHQ Plus, FHQ's subscription newsletter. Come check the rest out and consider a paid subscription to unlock the full site and support our work. 


The former president's hush money payment trial in Manhattan is set to start in the sweet spot of the 2024 presidential primary calendar.

Former President Donald Trump beamed into a New York courtroom via video on Tuesday, May 23 for a hearing in which, among other things, the start date of the trial stemming from the 2016 hush money payments investigation was revealed. And the March 25, 2024 date falls right into the heart of the 2024 presidential primary calendar. It is not just that the trial will begin as March winds down following the opening of the (more) winner-take-all phase of the Republican presidential nomination process. 

Yes, the calendar of contests is still evolving, but the tentative start of the trial is a big deal for at least a couple of reasons based on where it looks as if the calendar will end up settling for 2024.

Sure, March 25 will be well after Iowa and New Hampshire have officially kicked off the voting phase of the Republican presidential nomination race. It will follow Super Tuesday. And it will hit right after the time on the calendar — March 15 — when states are allowed to allocate delegates to candidates in a winner-take-all fashion. But more importantly, March 25 falls in what is likely to be the decisive zone on the presidential primary calendar next year. 

In the last three competitive Republican presidential nomination cycles, the candidate who has held the delegate lead when 50 percent of the total number of delegates have been allocated has gone on to clinch the nomination around the point on the calendar when 75 percent of the delegates have been allocated. And in 2024, the 50 percent mark will likely fall somewhere between Super Tuesday on March 5 and the first round of winner-take-all-eligible primaries on March 19. Just two weeks later, on April 2, the 75 percent mark will likely be crossed with an anticipated subregional primary in the northeast and mid-Atlantic (with Wisconsin along for the ride).

March 25 is right in that window. 

But look at the 50-75 rule in the context of the last few competitive Republican cycles. 

  • In 2008, John McCain came out of Super Tuesday on February 5 with a sizable delegate lead that he did not relinquish down the stretch. Super Tuesday was the point on the calendar when the 50 percent mark was passed and McCain had wrapped up the nomination by early March when the 75 percent point came and went. 

  • Four years later, the calendar was different. Yes, Florida again pushed the earliest contests into January, but California was no longer in early February. The primary in Texas was no longer in early March. Instead, both delegate-rich states were toward the end of the calendar and that influenced where the 50-75 rule was activated in 2012. 50 percent of the Republican delegates had not been allocated that cycle until after 75 percent of them had been allocated in 2008. The 75 percent mark did not come in 2012 until the Texas primary at the end of May. That is a significant difference, but Mitt Romney was the delegate leader in late March and secured the requisite number of delegates to clinch the nomination in the Lone Star state in late May. 

  • In 2016, the calendar changed again, but the 50-75 rule remained fairly predictive. Donald Trump was the delegate leader when the 50 percent mark was crossed on March 15 and had a nearly insurmountable advantage after wins in the northeast and mid-Atlantic in late April, when the process pushed past the 75 percent point on the calendar. No, Trump did not clinch that day, but his last challengers withdrew a week later. 

The 2024 calendar is not shaping up to be like any of those examples exactly. 50 percent of the delegates will have been allocated around the same point on the calendar in 2024 as 2016, but the 75 percent mark will come in much quicker succession thereafter. Again, it comes just two weeks later. That is a rapid delegate distribution. It is not 2008 fast, but it is fast. And March 25 is right there, late enough in process, but right in that calendar sweet spot where nomination decisions tend to be made in the Republican process.

The Emerging April Gap

Fast forward to March 25, 2024. The 50 percent mark has been surpassed in terms of delegates allocated and a candidate has a clear advantage in the delegate count. That candidate is almost always the frontrunner heading into primary season. Not always, but often enough. At this point in time, seven months out from Iowa starting the voting phase, that frontrunner is Donald Trump. He may not be in seven or nine months time. 

Regardless, this big external event is plopped down right in the middle of primary season. And it will not be over and done with on March 25. That trial will last a little bit and draw a lot of attention in the process. It will additionally likely overlap with the April 2 round of primaries. 

Now, the calendar is not set yet. But April 2 is poised to grow its footprint on the 2024 process in the coming days and weeks. Officially, Wisconsin is the only contest on that date as of now. However, bills have been proposed to move the ConnecticutDelaware and Rhode Island primaries to that date. There are signals that legislation is forthcoming from New York to move the presidential primary in the Empire state to April 2 as well. And talk is ramping up that Pennsylvania’s primary may land there also. 

Yet, in moving, those states are pulling up tent posts in late April and shifting them to the beginning of the month. That is going to hollow out the rest of April on the Republican calendar after April 2. There will potentially be no contests scheduled for the rest of the month.

There will potentially be no primaries or caucuses again until the Indiana primary on May 7. 

That is a five week gap with no contests. That is a five week gap that will exert a tremendous amount of pressure on the candidates trailing in the delegate count to close up shop and call it a day. That is a five week gap into which a trial that starts on March 25 will potentially creep and suck up even more attention (potentially away from those trailing candidates who need it most). 

However, that trial, while possibly drawing attention away from the campaign trail, will also create uncertainty; uncertainty as to the viability of the potential frontrunner and delegate leader. And despite feeling pressure to drop out, that may have the effect of, as Julia Azari and Seth Masket recently pointed out, keeping candidates who may otherwise have dropped out in past cycles in this race longer. 

But the point here is that this emerging April gap in the calendar is at the very point in the process when this trial is set to be going on. And there will be no contests or results to divert attention after April 2. Trump could have the nomination close to wrapped up by that point, but other trailing candidates could still be hanging around even as there are no primaries and caucuses for weeks. 

Look, this is already a weird dynamic. But throwing a trial into this rapid succession of delegate allocation followed by a gap in the action right as someone potentially gets close to clinching would create a strange matrix of incentives for all players involved. And that has implications for how the Republican nomination process winds down and transitions into the convention phase typically set aside to bring the party together for a general election run. 


Saturday, May 20, 2023

[From FHQ Plus] The Quirks of Scheduling a South Carolina Presidential Primary

The following is a cross-posted excerpt from FHQ Plus, FHQ's new subscription service. Come check the rest out and consider a paid subscription to unlock the full site and support our work. 


Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger recently made the curious decision to schedule the presidential primary in the Peach state for March 12, a week after Super Tuesday. And the move not only ended the hopes of Georgia Democrats holding a primary in the pre-window on the 2024 presidential primary calendar, but it also highlighted why South Carolina got the nod from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to take over the lead off slot

The Raffensperger obstacle in Georgia, whether viewed through the lens of partisanship or not, is something with which decision makers in the Palmetto state do not have to contend. After all, like Georgia, the state of South Carolina foots the bill for the election. However, unlike Georgia, the it is the state parties in South Carolina that set the date of the contest. It is a unique power that grants the state’s primaries more scheduling mobility than the vast majority of the states and allows South Carolina to remain first-in-the-South (if not first-in-the-nation).

But that freedom in South Carolina is not without some fetters. 

Caitlin Byrd and Alexander Thompson had a nice “yes, South Carolina Democrats are actually having the first primary in 2024” story over the weekend. And complications with rogue New Hampshire (and the very likely resulting penalties from the DNC) aside, they are. South Carolina Democrats will have a February 3 primary next year. 

But as the piece notes, it is not all smooth sailing in the Palmetto state. 

But not everyone is convinced that a 2024 presidential primary would be a major financial or organizing boost. Former party chair Dick Harpootlian questioned the value of holding a potentially costly event for a predictable outcome.  

“The question is, do we have one if it’s the president versus nobody, because it costs a tremendous amount of money to do that,” he said.

Two Democrats so far have announced challenging Biden for the 2024 presidential nomination: Marianne Williamson and Robert Kennedy Jr., both widely viewed as long shots. 

Pressed if he would want a primary with the current field, Harpootlian replied, “I wouldn’t have it.”

Again, South Carolina Democrats are going to have that February 3 primary. But Harpootlian hints at some of the historical quirks in South Carolina, quirks that have taken new shape under state and national party changes. Yes, the parties have the freedom to set the date of the contest for anywhere on the calendar they wish, so long as it follows party rules. And in years past when incumbent presidents have run for reelection, those same state parties have had the freedom to cancel the contest and select delegates through a caucus/convention process. It is not some sinister plot to foil the plans of also-ran candidates. Instead, it is a nod to reality. If the president is going to be renominated, then why, in recent years since the state began funding the primaries, spend taxpayer money (or party money before that) to fund a beauty contest election? The answer is that those state parties have not. There was no big, first-in-the-South primary when Bill Clinton ran for reelection in 1996, or for George W. Bush in 2004, or Barack Obama in 2012 or Donald Trump in 2020. Caucuses and/or conventions were held instead. 

But South Carolina Democrats do not have that freedom for 2024. And no one seems to be lamenting that loss. Everyone is too busy celebrating the elevation of the primary to the first spot on the calendar instead. Well, perhaps not Dick Harpootlian. But he is not wrong, per se, nor is South Carolina alone. The primary is alone at the top, of course, but even other states or state parties that might otherwise go small in 2024 with a Democratic president running again have to go through the motions of a primary because of the Rule 2 encouragements layered into DNC rules for the 2020 cycle, the encouragements to hold the most open and accessible nominating contests as is feasible.

To be sure, folks at the DNC would push back against the notion that any state or state party is “going through the motions.” The argument from the national party would most certainly be that the party is creating the most open, inclusive and accessible process for Democratic primary voters. However, the trade-off, if one wants to call it that, is that the party loses out on the incumbent-cycle streamlining of the process. 

And that streamlining, scaling down from a primary to a caucus, is something that some, if not all of the folks, at the DNC would say is no real loss. While that may be in the eye of the beholder, it is also true that there are and have been limited opportunities to streamline anyway. State parties with party-run nominating events may downgrade — hold caucuses over a party-run primary or a convention over caucuses. And some state parties do opt out of state-run primaries in incumbent cycles. Arizona and South Carolina did on the Republican side in 2020. Democrats in Florida and Michigan did in 2012 to avoid non-compliant primaries that were scheduled too early. And Washington Democrats in the legislature canceled the primary there that cycle, a primary the party never used until 2020 (after the legislature brought it back). And there ends up being a handful of states each cycle that automatically cancel a primary if only one candidate is on the ballot. 

So, there are a few instances each cycle where contests are canceled, but South Carolina is unique among state-funded primary states in that Democrats and Republicans can choose, and have chosen, separate dates throughout the post-reform era. And since the state got into the primary funding business for 2008, just two of the four cycles have seen primary cancelations. But 2024 will be the first one where an incumbent is running and a primary is not canceled. It will be the first time the state of South Carolina has had to pay for a largely uncompetitive presidential primary involving an incumbent president.

Again, this is not the custom elsewhere. In all other primary states, there is one primary. A state party with an incumbent president may opt out, but on the whole primaries are held and delegates are allocated, typically based on lopsided results that hand the president the overwhelming majority if not all of the delegates. But the cost constraint in South Carolina represents a unique obstacle with the state parties holding primaries on separate dates. That is two separate elections to fund. 

And that brings this back to 2024. There will be two primaries. But this will be the first time the state has funded primaries when the incumbent president’s party is not opting out. No one is complaining. The legislature is not threatening the funding. It is spent in service of keeping South Carolina first-in-the-South. But as Byrd and Thompson noted in their article, Palmetto state Republicans used the costs as a justification for opting out in 2020. Democrats in the state are not doing that for 2024. 

The question is whether that action will be the only first in South Carolina for 2024. Separate Democratic and Republican primaries have been the norm. But they do not have to be on different dates. South Carolina Republicans could join Democrats on February 3, save the state the second expenditure and provide a little more room for Iowa and New Hampshire to maneuver in January. 

But that may be a bridge too far in a state with a number of quirks.



Saturday, May 13, 2023

[From FHQ Plus] About the California Republican Party Delegate Rules for 2024

The following is a cross-posted excerpt from FHQ Plus, FHQ's new subscription service. Come check the rest out and consider a paid subscription to unlock the full site and support our work. 


Seema Mehta at the LA Times had a nice piece up today on Republican delegate allocation in California for 2024. The premise was that the winner-take-all by congressional district rules would grant greater voice to the small number of Republican voters in large urban areas compared to the more conservative areas of the state.

And sure, under the Republican National Committee (RNC) delegate apportionment scheme every congressional district — red, blue or purple — counts the same: three delegates each. As Mehta put it:

It doesn’t matter if it’s former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco-based district, home to 29,150 registered Republicans, … or current House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s district centered in Bakersfield, where 205,738 GOP voters live.

Mathematically speaking, it makes some strategic sense for campaigns to chase the districts with the smaller number of partisans. Very simply, the return on investment is greater. And there was some evidence of this in the 2016 race as FHQ noted in Invisible Primary: Visible earlier this year

But here is the thing: California will have a Super Tuesday primary next year. And that March 5 date is prior to March 15 when the winner-take-all prohibition under RNC rules ends. As a result, California Republicans utilizing a winner-take-all by congressional district delegate allocation method before March 15 would be in violation of those national party rules and cost the party half of their 169 delegates under Rule 17(a). 

How did it come to this? Is the California Republican Party deliberately flaunting RNC rules? It does not really look that way. 

To start, the baseline set of national convention delegate allocation rules is a winner-take-all by congressional district method. That has not changed in recent years. What did change in 2019 was that the party adopted a set of allocation rules that were more proportional for 2020 and complied with RNC rules for that cycle. But they sunset in 2021.1 That means that the baseline winner-take-all by congressional district rules are the rules for 2024. 

…for now.

But that will likely change and FHQ bases that on a couple of factors. First, nothing dealing with national convention delegates was even on the March state convention agenda with respect to bylaws changes. Of course, nothing had to be. There is a baseline set of allocation rules in place already that snapped back into action once the 2020 rules expired. 

Second, however, this is setting up just like 2019 when California Republicans faced the same dilemma heading into September ahead of their fall state convention that year. Staring down the prospect of RNC penalties if the party did not change the winner-take-most rules, California Republicans at the late September 2019 state convention adopted the proportional allocation scheme that sunset in 2021, a more proportional set of rules

And California Republicans have a September 2023 state convention lined up right before the RNC deadline to submit rules for the 2024 cycle to the national party on or before October 1. 

The question that emerges from this is why did the 2020 California allocation rules have to expire at all? It makes sense from the state party’s perspective to sunset the proportional rules if there is even an outside shot that the RNC would change its requirement for proportional rules during the early part of the calendar. But the RNC held steady and mostly carried over the same 2020 rules to the 2024 cycle when it finalized the rules package in April 2022. There is no evidence that the national party has subsequently made any additional changes (and could not after September 30, 2022 anyway under the restrictions on further rule amendments in Rule 12).

Look, San Francisco Republicans may dream of a bigger voice in 2024, but they are unlikely to get it if the state party wants to have its full voice at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee in summer 2024.


Saturday, May 6, 2023

[From FHQ Plus] A Curious Decision on the Georgia Presidential Primary

The following is a cross-posted excerpt from FHQ Plus, FHQ's new subscription service. Come check the rest out and consider a paid subscription to unlock the full site and support our work. 


As mentioned earlier over at FHQ, it was reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution today that Raffensperger had made his decision and that March 12 was the choice for the date on which to schedule the Georgia presidential primary for 2024. That instantly makes the Peach state the biggest draw on a day that includes primaries in Mississippi and Washington and Republican caucuses in Hawaii.

But it is a curious selection. Most outlets are treating the news as a denial of the proposed elevation of Georgia in the Democratic National Committee (DNC) calendar rules for next year. And it is, but that misses the point. First of all, the proposed February 13 date for the Georgia primary was never workable without either breaking the Republican National Committee (RNC) timing rules or splitting up the Democratic and Republican primaries and holding them on different dates.

That was clear last December when the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee (DNCRBC) first adopted the calendar rules. And it was even clearer when the full DNC followed suit this past February and when Raffensperger’s office drew a red line because of the aforementioned conflicts.
But what makes this curious and also is being missed is that there was a middle ground in this case that was never really considered. And it is not clear why. As FHQ has noted in February, the secretary could have scheduled the Georgia primary for March 1 or 2 and the move would have met the criteria set by his office. The contest would shift into the early window on the Democratic calendar, albeit later than February 13, would not violate RNC rules and would keep the two parties’ primaries together.

The only catch was that the Georgia Republican Party may have wanted to retain its winner-take-all by congressional district method of delegate allocation. That would potentially have kept the primary in the second half of March. But by selecting March 12, Raffensperger took that discretion away from Georgia Republicans. The party will be stuck with some version of proportional rules for the 2024 cycle.

Without that hitch — without Peach state Republicans insisting on winner-take-most allocation methods — there was no difference between March 1 and March 12. The winner-take-all prohibition treats both dates, and all dates before March 15, the same. But those dates, March 1 or 2 and March 12, are separated by miles in terms of potential impact. A solitary primary before Super Tuesday stands to carry a lot more weight than a primary, especially a proportional primary on the same date as other contests, a week after Super Tuesday. The former is a guaranteed impact, an influence on the Super Tuesday contests. The latter is influenced by Super Tuesday and may — MAY (It would be a gamble.) — put a candidate over the top in the delegate count or be enough to winnow the remaining viable challengers.

That point, however, is moot now. The Georgia presidential primary will fall on March 12. But that does not make it any less strange a decision.


Saturday, April 22, 2023

From FHQ Plus: Calendar Foreshadowing in New York

The following is a cross-posted excerpt from FHQ Plus, FHQ's new subscription service. Come check the rest out and consider a paid subscription to support our work. 


One of the missing pieces of the 2024 presidential primary calendar is the primary in the Empire state. And the major reason for that is the standard protocol for scheduling the election every cycle dating back to 2012. Basically some variation of the following has taken place every cycle since the New York legislature moved the presidential primary — the “spring primary” — to February for 2008. 

  1. Faced with a noncompliant primary, the New York legislature some time in the late spring sets the parameters of the next year’s presidential primary, including the date, method of delegate allocation, etc.

  2. At the end of the presidential election year, the date of the primary — typically in April in 2012-20 period — reverts to the noncompliant February position it had to begin with.

  3. The process starts anew for the next cycle.

In the 2024 cycle, New York is stuck somewhere in step one above: saddled with a February presidential primary date that no one with decision-making power over the date of the primary intends to keep. 

But that does not mean that there have not been hints about where the thinking is in the Empire state with respect to the primary date for 2024. Those hints, however, have not come from the legislature as of yet nor even from inside the state to this point. Instead, there has been talk of concurrent Connecticut and New York primaries in early April during a committee hearing concerning a bill to reschedule the presidential primary date in the Nutmeg state. And there was another mention of a cluster of contests involving Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island on the same April 2 date for 2024 in the draft delegate selection plan (DSP) of Ocean state Democrats. 

Now, there are further indications that actors actually in New York are targeting April 2. Quietly last week, the New York Democratic Party posted for public comment its draft delegate selection plan for the upcoming cycle. And in it were details of a presidential primary to take place on April 2, 2024. That is likely more than merely aspirational. The same basic pattern occurred four years ago when the 2020 draft delegate selection plan foreshadowed the legislative change to come in Albany.

And legislative action is still required in this instance. It just is unlikely to occur before June (if recent cycles are any indication). There are currently three bills dealing with the scheduling of the presidential primary already introduced in the New York Assembly or Senate, but none of them are necessarily candidates to be vehicles for the sort of change called for in the Democrats’ delegate selection plan. Sure, all three could be amended, but it has been standard for a clean bill with details of not just the timing of the presidential primary but the preferred delegate allocation method of each of the parties to be included in the introduced legislation.

That is likely still a ways off, but this is one more clue that New York is going to have a primary cluster with Connecticut and Rhode Island on April 2. And Hawaii and Missouri could be there too.


Saturday, April 15, 2023

From FHQ Plus: The Blurred Lines Between State and Party on the Caucuses in Iowa

The following is a cross-posted excerpt from FHQ Plus, FHQ's new subscription service. Come check the rest out and consider a paid subscription to support our work. 


I dealt with part of the new bill to change the parameters of the caucus process in the Hawkeye state over at FHQ earlier today. But that bill — HSB 245 — moved past its first obstacle today and out of the Study Bill Subcommittee of the Iowa House Ways and Means Committee on a 3-2 vote, and it looks like it will face a full committee vote on Thursday. [NOTE: HSB 245 passed Ways and Means on a party line vote on Thursday, April 13.]

As some have noted the effort to require in-person participation at a caucus — to ban a proposed plan by Iowa Democrats to shift to a vote-by-mail process — is a move that would immediately be on shaky legal ground. Parties have wide latitude in setting the rules of their internal processes under Supreme Court precedent. And the caucuses are a party affair. The parties pay for them. The parties set the rules. The parties run them.

But the Iowa caucus operations have often blurred the line between state and party on the matter. The parties and the state government, regardless of partisan affiliation across either, have tended to work together to protect that first-in-the-nation status the caucuses have enjoyed over the last half century. There is a state law in Iowa, as in New Hampshire, but both 2008 and 2012 demonstrated that it is fairly toothless. The caucuses in neither case were eight days ahead of the next contest, as called for in state law, and neither party was hit with sanctions for the move.

Moreover, the state/party line has been blurred by the encroachment of same-day party registration at caucus sites in recent years. The state’s tentacles stretch into the caucuses, but that still does not change the fact that the precinct caucuses are a party affair, a party-funded and run operation. And that is kind of the ironic thing about the proposed 70 day buffer required between registration with a party and the caucuses in this bill moving through the Iowa legislature. It retracts those state tentacles to some degree, drawing a sharper line again between state and party domain.

In the end, the fate of this bill beyond the committee is uncertain. But one thing this episode demonstrates is the deterioration of the relationship between Iowa Democrats and Republicans on the one thing that has united them in the past: protecting the status of the caucuses. Republicans unilaterally introducing this measure without consulting the Democratic Party at all on the matter says a lot. And in the long run that will likely hurt Iowa’s efforts to retain its status in the future. 


Monday, April 3, 2023

Invisible Primary: Visible -- Texas as Trump's Firewall?

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

Texas may provide Donald Trump with some added insurance once voting begins in next year's primary. Just last week, FHQ pointed in the direction of endorsements the former president already has in the Lone Star state. But John L. Dorman at Business Insider took it a step further over the weekend, suggesting that Texas could offer a delegate advantage for Trump in 2024. Maybe! If Trump remains the frontrunner in the Republican process when Super Tuesday rolls around next year, then a win in Texas would certainly pad the stats a bit and give the former president a fairly decent net delegate advantage coming out of the state's primary. 

But is Texas any more of a firewall on Super Tuesday than, say, (even more delegate-rich) California? The electorates in the two states are different, but so are the delegate allocation rules. And Texas Republicans did not use the same rules in 2020 that they used in 2016. And that quirky 2020 system may not have the immediate benefit that the 2016 rules did for Ted Cruz, the example cited by Dorman. California Republicans, on the other hand pooled their delegates in 2020, meaning that the statewide results -- and not also the congressional district results -- are the only ones that matter. If Trump hits it right, then he could win all of California's delegates (if he wins a majority). The process is a long way from getting to that point -- obviously -- but that is a big potential payday in the 2024 delegate count. Rules matter. Pay attention to how they develop in the coming months. 

Asa Hutchinson is in. The former Arkansas governor (pre-)announced his intentions to seek the Republican presidential nomination over the weekend, becoming the third candidate with experience in elective office (and more conventional attributes) to join the race. Say what you will about the odds facing Hutchinson, but he is approaching a run differently than most anyone else is. Seth Masket has more. [Always read Seth!]

Texas Governor Greg Abbott now has a presidential filing with the Federal Election Commission. But when an organization is called "Greg Abbott President Campaign," it does not exactly scream professional. The date of the filing may also tell us something about the purpose. 

When FHQ sees "Dates of 2024 Presidential Primaries Uncertain in Twelve States" we jump at the chance to click. And look, I have read and thoroughly enjoyed what Richard Winger has done at Ballot Access News for years. But I disagree with the way things were characterized in his piece over the weekend.
"In Connecticut, Idaho, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, the date can’t be known yet because the legislature is considering bills to change the date and the results are unpredictable at this time." [emphasis FHQ's]
Actually, we can know the dates of the presidential primaries in those states. They are clearly laid out in state law in each instance. Until those laws are changed, those are the dates of the primaries. The fate of those bills may be unpredictable, but the dates -- both the current ones and their alternatives -- are known. 

And do not get me started on this idea that the South Carolina Republican presidential primary is scheduled for February 24. It is not. It is not on January 27 either, but behavior on the state level in past cycles suggests January is closer to where the primary will end up in 2024. It beats simply carrying over a date from a previous cycle and "presuming" that will be the date (especially when there is no state law setting it for that point on the calendar).

Over at FHQ Plus... 
If you haven't checked out FHQ Plus yet, then what are you waiting for? Subscribe below.

On this date... 1976, Democrats in Kansas and Virginia held caucuses. While Jimmy Carter "won" both, uncommitted delegates won more slots. 1984, Walter Mondale won the New York primary as Gary Hart was winning a meaningless primary in Wisconsin. [Democrats in the Badger state held caucuses to allocate delegates a few days later to avoid participating in an open presidential primary.] 2012, Romney swept Republican primaries in Maryland, Washington, DC and Wisconsin as President Obama clinched the Democratic nomination. 2016, the Cruz campaign outworked Donald Trump to claim more delegates from the North Dakota Republican state convention. 

See more on our political/electoral consulting venture at FHQ Strategies. 

Friday, March 31, 2023

Introducing FHQ Plus

Last week marked the 16th anniversary of FHQ's initial post. It was modest by 2007 standards. Many things around here are. But it was the first step in the development of a site that has become a resource, a companion guide to presidential elections generally, but nominations and nominations rules in particular. As I have noted on similar occasions in the past, it all started as little more than an effort to gather and share anecdotal evidence of presidential primary movement for the 2008 cycle for dissertation research and transformed over time into a field guide of sorts. The mission became an effort to catalog and contextualize not only primary calendar changes within and in between cycles, but nominations rules changes as well, and to package all of that insanely complex maneuvering into something more easily digestible for everyone. 

Look, it is a niche. I know that. I have known that. This stuff can read like stereo instructions sometimes. And I have seen folks' eyes glaze over when I launch into it. Nevertheless, 16 years in, I have learned 1) that there is value out there in this resource and 2) that there is a cyclical nature to all of it. That glaze over the eyes gets a little thinner with regularity: every four years as the presidential nomination races heat up, this information -- the primary calendar, the rules, the impact each (and the changes to each) will have within states and collectively to the process on a national scale --  becomes more important. Well, it is always important, in truth. But it begins to rise in relative importance every cycle once the midterms pass. Traffic jumps a little and then a lot. Email requests increase a little and then a lot. Or in the case of the 2024 cycle, they jump a lot if the Democratic Party waits until after the midterms to fundamentally reshape its primary calendar. 

But that is the way it goes, or perhaps, the way it has gone. I work hard to create for and maintain this resource. It has been extremely important to me to freely share it all so that the information could get out there. So that it could benefit those who are looking to be better informed about the ins and outs of the presidential nomination process. As a political scientist, I continue to wear that teaching hat, and I continue to place a great deal of value on the notion that knowledge is power in the hands of citizens in a democracy. And that mean citizens of all stripes from those in campaigns, parties and media to those in the academy and everyone else just trying to make some sense of the complex systems that determine who the standard bearers for the major parties will be in presidential elections. 

FHQ remains committed to that value.

But the model will change for the first time after 16 years. FHQ -- -- is not going anywhere. But today I am excited to launch FHQ Plus, a paid subscription arm of FHQ built on the Substack platform. If you have been a regular reader of or have casually happened upon FHQ over the years, then the concept will be similar at FHQ Plus. Those discussions of primary movement and delegate selection rules changes will be there. In-depth analyses and other musings to further contextualize those changes will be there. Reactions to news and other events that require more space than social media will allow will be there too. And so will some other enhancements that are made available on Substack. Twitter is not going anywhere, but there is obviously some uncertainty with how the platform is going to function in the future. The Substack chat function allows for some interesting connectivity among subscribers to FHQ Plus that may nurture important conversations. [And I'll be real, bots spamming the comments section on Blogger forced me to switch to moderating that; something to which I never took. I just did not have the bandwidth to deal with it.] And there are podcast possibilities as well. 

And no, that does not completely gut the original FHQ. Our flagship property, the presidential primary calendar will stay in place. Increasingly, links from the calendar will lead to FHQ Plus, but the base calendar will remain available to everyone. That same basic structure will hold for base delegate allocation rules pages when those are posted in the future. And I brought Invisible Primary: Visible back at the beginning of the month with this move in mind. It will continue to post every weekday in the mid-morning on FHQ and continue to deliver insights too big for social media and too small for a stand-alone post. And the vast majority of the FHQ archive will remain right where it is, available for everyone. Additionally, there are tentative plans to cross-post one item from FHQ Plus every week (probably on Saturdays) and a dedicated "column" (probably on Sundays).

Everything else moving forward will be published on FHQ Plus. I have wrestled with a pay model for a while now. Keen observers may recall that for a period during latter half of 2022 there were ads in various places around FHQ. Ultimately, I did not like the way that cluttered up the site. There was and is already a lot of material to take in at FHQ and ads only served as a distraction from that. A subscription model circumvents that distraction. 

The monthly subscription rate to FHQ Plus is initially set at five dollars ($5) or for the year, $30. In both cases, that is the lowest level allowed through Substack.

This is another aspect of this with which I wrestled. Five dollars will price some folks out. I get that. Others may feel like five dollars undervalues the FHQ experience. Folks who fall into that latter category -- those who place a higher value on FHQ Plus and its mission -- are free, welcome really, to give at a value that they feel is appropriate. Think of it as akin to how Radiohead distributed In Rainbows. It was a pay-what-you-want model with a nominal service charge -- what was it, 10¢? -- to use a debit or credit card and get the digital file for the album. FHQ Plus is the same. If you want, you can pay what you want under the Plus Founder (Suggested) option, where you can input a yearly price your choosing about $30. But the baseline charge will be five dollars a month or $30 a year. 

In the end, this is not Netflix. It is not Spotify. It is not whatever fill-in-the-blank other service you subscribe to. But FHQ Plus does fill a void, and in my estimation, an important one that arises for a lengthy period every four years. It is a niche service, and I am asking folks to chip a bit to help FHQ continue in its larger mission to fill that void.

Most importantly and in closing, I want to do something that I try to do every year when the anniversary of FHQ's launch rolls around, and still never really feels like enough. I want to say a very sincere thank you to everyone. Thank you to everyone for reading, whether from near the beginning or not until only recently. Thank you for the interactions and the comments here or on social media. They often led to posts or made existing ones better. Thank you to the long line of folks over the years -- you know who you are -- who have advocated for FHQ, who have promoted the site or its affiliated social media channels, and who have reached out privately to offer words of praise or a simple thank you. Those efforts, no matter the size, have meant the world to me. And I greatly appreciate them all. 

Thank you and welcome to FHQ Plus.