Showing posts with label Ohio Plan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ohio Plan. Show all posts

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Ohio Plan has One More Chance...

...but given the way Ohio Republican Party Chair is lashing out at McCain over the plan's rejection in the rules committee, that doesn't seem like a much of a chance. Nevertheless, the plan will have a final vote tomorrow as the rules committee will vote to approve the rules governing primaries and caucuses for 2012; rules which will be ratified at next week's convention.

CQ added one more piece to the puzzle today, though. States violating the "no one goes before the first Tuesday in March but Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina" rule will be penalized half their delegates in 2012. Yes, the same penalty that kept Wyoming, Florida, Michigan, South Carolina and even New Hampshire from moving ahead of February 5, 2008. No, not even the Granite state had an exemption in 2008, but all of the above will likely have all their delegations seated next week, and much more quietly than Florida and Michigan this week at the Democratic convention.

It is likely then that we will see a few more renegade states in 2012, though as I explained last night, the identity of those states will have much to do with which party actually wins the 2008 election. States with legislatures controlled by the party out of the White House are the ones more likely to move; more likely to be renegades. That, in itself, will constrain movement of the sort we saw in the lead up to 2008. But it won't completely stop it. And from the looks of, the status quo sanctions the GOP is putting forth won't either. States will forego those delegates in exchange for some level of influence over who the next presidential nominees will be.

Recent Posts:
On GOP Conventions and VP Selections

And the Ohio Plan is Dead. The Democrats Will Go It Alone on 2012 Presidential Primary Reform

The Democratic Convention Roll Call

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

And the Ohio Plan is Dead. The Democrats Will Go It Alone on 2012 Presidential Primary Reform

Though tempers flared, the GOP rules committee rejected the Ohio Plan which would have completely reworked the timing of presidential primaries and caucuses for the 2012 cycle and beyond. What was left in the wake was anger, finger-pointing at the McCain campaign and accusations of behind-the-scenes meddling. I was always skeptical that the GOP would do anything on this front, but I didn't expect that news to come out in this way. It isn't that I thought the GOP would drag its feet on curbing frontloading, but there was dissension within the party from the point at which the committee passed the plan for a hearing at the upcoming convention back in the spring. And as I said, back when I speculated on how McCain would have fared in this year's contests under the Ohio Plan, successful nominees just don't tinker with a system in which they were successful.

What does this decision mean? It means that if the Democrats win this election, there will be no difference between the 2008 cycle and 2012. Correction: There will probably be even more frontloading as the progression toward a national primary continues. If the Democrats are successful in November, they will not be seriously interested in changing things for 2012. 2016 maybe, but not 2012. Even if McCain wins in November, I suspect the Democrats won't do too much on their part simply because they won't have the cooperation of the GOP. To completely change things will require an effort on the part of both parties to rein in the partisanship that stems from state legislatures and state parties.

What the GOP did do in Minneapolis was to close the window on frontloading a bit. Like the Democrats, they too have stressed the importance of shifting the earliest possible date on which contests could be held to the first Tuesday in March. So let's go ahead and mark Tuesday March 6, 2012 on our calendars. There will be a lot of contests that day. It won't be just Ohio, Texas, Vermont and Rhode Island in the spotlight that day like in 2008.

But one question remains: What are the sanctions for violation of the potential new timing rules? There are over a dozen states that permanently moved their primary elections through action in their state legislatures. That work will have to be redone. But what is motivating states to do that work? What will they gain by moving back and what will they lose if they don't? The answers to those questions will tell us in quick order whether the calendar of contests is going to be any different in 2012 than it was this past winter and spring. And there still isn't a good answer.

UPDATE: Here are the reactions on the move from New Hampshire and from Ohio.

Recent Posts:
The Democratic Convention Roll Call

The Electoral College Map (8/27/08)

The Links (8/27/08)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

About Those Rules: What Obama's New Florida/Michigan Stance Means for 2012 and Beyond

Now, the Credentials Committee will have some say in this, but...

Obama's decision to call for a full seating of the delegates from Florida and Michigan has opened up a Pandora's box. Yes, it was clever of his campaign to come out with this now, after Hillary Clinton had been out of the spotlight for nearly two months. For delegates to go against two months of effort on behalf of Obama as the presumptive nominee and opt for Clinton, would be tantamount to ceding the election to McCain. Timing-wise then, it was a good move to make the call now (if he was going to do it at all). At this point, the intra-party tension has been sufficiently minimized, so that it is only likely to elicit a response from the most vocal Clinton supporters/Obama detractors.

To me though, that isn't real issue here. And, as is often the case with the Democratic Party, rule changes lead to some discernible differences, but also leave them vulnerable to any number of unforeseen, unintended consequences. If the Credentials Committee gives the green light to Obama's wishes for full voting rights for Florida and Michigan at the convention later this month, then states wanting to challenge Iowa and New Hampshire's first in the nation caucus and primary status in 2012 are going to be given a real morale boost.

Said one fictitious state legisltor:
"Delegates, schmelagates. If the sanctions don't mean anything anyway, let's move our primary way up so that we at least have some influence over who the presidential nominee is. The convention is only a PR extravaganza anyway. The delegates there only rubber stamp the decision made in the primaries; the early primaries."

And that's the catch here. This opens the door to any number of challenges to Iowa and New Hampshire. The Credentials Committee, then, can seat those delegates with full (not half) votes, but they had better hope that the Rules and Bylaws Committee does something at the convention to address 2012 and beyond (and they will. We just don't have any idea of to what extent they'll do something.). Either that, or rely on the GOP to debate the Ohio Plan at their convention or hope the federal government intervenes. Otherwise, states are going to move into the down-time between cycles -- when the frontloading decisions are made -- with an ability to move with impunity.

If Obama wins in November, this is a moot point.

...until 2016.
...unless things go badly and he is challenged in the primaries in 2012 (Could Clinton/Obama II be like Carter and Kennedy in 1980?).

If McCain wins, 2012 could be ugly for the Democratic Party in terms of how it will deal with states which will be tempted more than ever to hold a primary of caucus ahead of the earliest point that the party will allow (currently the first Tuesday in February).

So sure, Florida and Michigan matter to the Democrats' fortunes in 2008, but are they thinking ahead to 2012 and beyond? And while we're on the subject, is unity between those two states and the Democratic nominee a real problem now? Michigan is tight in the poll, but still favors Obama. And Florida is trending in the direction of the Illinois senator. What is gained from giving these delegates their full voice and is that really going to turn the tide in either state? Yes, I realize there is a sense of fairness and democracy here, but I'm talking about this in terms of how this affects the party's nominee in the election. Does that gain outweigh the potential headache 2012 frontloaders are going to provide? That is the question. Apparently it does.

Recent Posts:
The Electoral College Map (8/3/08)

So, Who's Going to Win This Race? The Forecasts are Starting to Come In

VP Announcement Timing

Monday, April 7, 2008

Frontloading Under Fire: The Ohio Plan & the GOP in 2012

NOTE: See also FHQ's broader discussion on a wide array of presidential primary reform plans here.

From the "Things that May Destroy Your Blog" file
, the GOP has advanced a plan to reform the scheduling aspect of its presidential nominating system. Fortunately Blogger allows me to change the blog name, but unfortunately, Regional Primary HQ doesn't have quite the same ring to it as Frontloading HQ. [Of course, that name has its drawbacks too. A change may solve the problem of having people stop by thinking they are on a blog devoted to the finer points of frontloading washing machines.]

What, though, is this Ohio Plan? How does it change things? And most importantly, what is the likelihood that this plan is put into action? As both the CQ article (linked above) and The Fix describe it, the Ohio Plan is an equal parts lottery and regional primary system for determining the order in which states hold delegate selection events. Under the terms of the plan pas by the Republican party rules committee last Wednesday, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina would retain their status as the first states to hold contests. What follows is what is different though. With the goal of eliminating the chaos of frontloading, the Ohio Plan places the next 14 electorally smallest states as the next step in the process. That leaves 32 which are split into three groups (no longer regionally aligned according to the plan agreed to by the GOP rules committee). Those three "pods" would remain the same and rotate which one went first behind the smallest states every four years. Here are those pods (via The Fix):
Pod X: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Wisconsin, Utah, and Washington

Pod Y: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia

Pod Z: Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania

This plan avoids the regional candidate issue that I raised in last week's post. It also maintains some level of retail politics by preserving the position of the traditional first states and augments that to some degree by positioning the smallest states next. As I stated, the goal is to reverse the frontloading trend the process has witnessed during the post-reform era. In the end the plan offers a scenario where the decision on the placement of nominating contests is nationalized to some degree. And that opens up a Pandora's box of issues. The end is an admirable goal, but the means of implementing such a plan are full of problems.

Why (and where) will the Ohio Plan face resistance? The first hurdle to clear is the Republican party at the St. Paul convention this summer. Traditionally, the GOP has set the rules of delegate selection and allowed the states to decide where (within a window of time) to hold their contests. That jibes well with the party's overarching themes of a smaller national government intervening less in decisions best made by states. From an economic perspective, the markets dictate where the states will go--earlier is better in the frontloaded era. Why then, would the GOP go along with this? It isn't clear that they will. There is some opposition to the Ohio Plan and that dissension is best voiced by South Carolina GOP chairman, Katon Dawson (from The Detroit News):
"If you look at the process we have, it worked. The RNC should decide a date, decide the penalties (for violating the date) and move forward."
Now there's that skepticism toward change that you expect from the conservative party in a two party system. Change in this process being driven by the Republican party is something of a foreign concept. Typically, it has been the Democratic party that made the changes only to have the GOP follow suit. The roles are being reversed here somewhat. It should be noted though, that it was the Republicans in 1996 who first proposed and instituted the bonus delegate incentive plan to entice states to hold their delegate selection events at later times; something the Democrats have since adopted as well.

The GOP rules committee passed this plan by a two to one margin, so let's assume for the sake of argument (and for the sake of fun) that this thing passes muster at the convention in September. Well, we have a new system then, right? Ah, if only things worked that easily. As the CQ piece alludes to, the state parties and state governments become the subsequent hurdles to clear. The state parties are one thing: they are an extension of the national parties in most respects, but they only directly influence the decreasing number of caucuses. And those are contests in the small states that stand to gain from these proposed changes.

Most states have primaries now; the parameters of which are settled on by state governments. And that ushers in partisanship as a major obstacle. Are states controlled by Democrats going to go along with these changes if either they or the the DNC oppose them? That remains to be seen, but could hamper the possibility of change. State parties have the final say on whether to go along with the date the state legislatures have decided on, but rarely opt against a state funded contest if the alternative is a party funded primary or caucus.

Well, how did the drastic changes the Democrats made for the 1972 cycle ever get passed and why couldn't history repeat itself? One side effect of those reforms was a growing number of primaries (as opposed to caucuses). Those primaries were instituted by the predominantly Democratic state legislatures of the time. In the post-reform era the shift on the state legislative level has been toward the GOP (especially following the party's successes in the 1994 midterm elections). That's good for Republicans, but means that the balance of partisan power in those institutions is more evenly dispersed now. In other words, big changes to this system sanctioned by a national entity (either national party) require harmonious, collective action on the part of state governments with differing levels of partisan balance.

This isn't a recipe for change.

What do we have then? Well, the movement of primaries since the McGovern-Fraser reforms has the system inching closer to a national primary. And as more and more states began to position themselves earlier for 2008, several polls indicated support for the idea of a national primary. And while that doesn't settle the problem of the compression of the frontloaded calendar, it at least removes the chaotic movement of states from cycle to cycle. It also is the path of least resistance (read: cheapest, least conflicting).

Oh, and it allows me to keep the blog name going.

...until all the states move up.