Showing posts with label Super PAC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Super PAC. Show all posts

Monday, March 13, 2023

Invisible Primary: Visible -- Blue States Matter in the Republican Nomination Process, but so do Blue Districts

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

Alan Greenblatt has a good reminder up at Governing about the role blue states play in the Republican presidential nomination process. But while there are also delegates to chase in Democratic states, the underlying math offers some interesting twists. 

Take California. The Golden state, as Greenblatt notes, is a solidly blue state but remains the largest delegate prize in the Republican process. Yet, how California Republicans decide to divvy up all of those delegates matters. More often than not, California has been a winner-take-all by congressional district state, meaning that, not only do the results statewide matter, but so too do the results in each of the state's 50-plus congressional districts. A candidate would need either a big win statewide or a win fairly evenly dispersed across all of those districts to sweep all or most them.

Of course, one difference between the Republican and Democratic delegate apportionment -- how the national parties distribute delegates to the states -- is in how each treats congressional district delegates. The Republican National Committee (RNC) apportions three delegates to every congressional district while Democrats weight them. The more Democratic a district has been (in terms of past voting), the more delegates it receives. Democratic districts -- where the Democrats are -- mean more in the math for candidates. But that is not true on the Republican side. They are all the same. Overwhelmingly Republican districts are the same as supermajority Democratic districts. As such, the relatively small number of Republicans in those solidly Democratic districts carry a bit more weight than a larger number of them packed into a Republican-leaning district. 

And there is an efficiency to all of this as well. Many of those Democratic districts are clustered in urban areas that can be reached more easily in person and/or on the air. There was some evidence of this in metro Atlanta in the 2016 Republican race. Marco Rubio was able to peel off a few Democratic districts there to gain some delegates. As that example illustrates, however, focusing solely on Democratic districts is no substitute for doing well in Republican areas as well (not unless there are a number of evenly matched candidates). But, as always, the rules matter.

[Incidentally, California Republicans dropped the allocation method described above for the 2020 cycle. An earlier primary forced the state party to abandon the winner-take-all by congressional district method because it would not have been compliant under RNC rules. But the change made minimized the congressional district and at-large delegate distinction. All of the delegates were pooled and all allocated based on the statewide results. If no candidate received a majority of the vote statewide, then the delegates were proportionally allocated. With majority support a candidate would win all of the delegates. But again, the rules matter.]

Over at Bloomberg, Jonathan Bernstein has one on the current time of choosing for Republicans. The possible indictments former President Donald Trump faces means that Republicans are going to have to stake out positions on the matter one way or the other. And that has consequences for the 2024 invisible primary. On one end of the spectrum, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R), who is considering a White House bid of his own, has already suggested that Trump should drop out if he is indicted. And while it is not necessarily indictment-related, Mike Pence continues to break with Trump and more forcefully now. Other candidates will have decisions to make as this story develops.

Speaking of Trump, the former president drops in on Iowa today for the first time since announcing his third presidential run.

The political science literature tells us that the impact of political advertising is small and short-lived. But that has stopped super PAC spending on ads promoting President Biden's economic accomplishments. Yes, this is more of an attempt to frame the matter than to sway votes still 20 months away. ...but still, it is early.

On this date... 1984, it was Super Tuesday, a date that saw Walter Mondale and Gary Hart split contests in the Democratic presidential nomination race. Like 1992, the Super Tuesday of 1984 paled in comparison to the southern-dominated Super Tuesday of 1988. But the break in support in 1984 foreshadowed the pattern that would repeat itself to some degree in 1988. Mondale took contests in the Deep South while Hart took Florida and the two primaries in the northeast. But while Mondale rode those victories in Alabama and Georgia to the nomination, in 1988 Michael Dukakis filled the Hart role while, winning the peripheral South and the northeast as Jesse Jackson and Al Gore split the bulk of the former confederacy. 2012, it was the day of the primaries in Alabama and Mississippi, two contests Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich needed in their longer term efforts to keep Mitt Romney from reaching the magic number of delegates to claim the Republican nomination. Romney was kept out of the winner's circle in each, but the delegate splits among the three candidates did not provide his challengers with the net delegate advantages they needed. This series of contests also garnered some attention because of Romney's "cheesy grits" comments. 2019, Miramar mayor Wayne Messam (D) formed an exploratory committee for a presidential run. Messam formally joined the race later in the month, but withdrew before primary season and ultimately received no votes in the process. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Rubio says super PACs helped drive his push for moving Florida primary

So sayeth the headline from the Tampa Bay Times.

Here's what Rubio had to say:
"All I did was let them know what the party wants," Rubio told the Buzz. "They are pretty clear they are going to continue to penalize states," that move up their primary, resulting in fewer delegates and distant hotels for the nominating convention.  
"When we changed the primary when I was in the House, it made sense because at that time these elections were still being decided in three or four early states. In the advent of super PACs, where someone will give you $1 million and you can survive for months at a time, it's changed. If these races are going to go on until April or June, then it behooves Florida to have its full comple­ment of delegates."
The bit about the penalties is consistent with what Rubio's state director in Florida has already said. And honestly, that should probably have been the extent of the senator's comments. However, he raised the specter of super PACs as well. Look, did super PACs play a role in the 2012 Republican nomination race? Sure. Were Foster Friess and Sheldon Adelson the reason that the race went "until April or June"? No. No, they weren't.

The main reason for the length of the primary campaign in 2012 was a spread out calendar. The combination of Florida repositioning itself at the end of January, thus pushing up the majority of carve-out states, and a number of other states moving contests into April, May and June was what drove the calendar dynamics. And those state-level actions were a direct response to -- We're going to go full circle here. -- the national party rules and especially the penalties. The spread out calendar meant that it was going to take -- even in a marginally competitive nomination race -- until late March before anyone could reach the requisite number of delegates to wrap up the nomination. As it stood, it was all but impossible for Santorum, much less Gingrich, to catch Mitt Romney in the delegate count. That is a fact that became clearer between Super Tuesday and when Santorum suspended his campaign in early April.

That was 2012.

2016 may be a bit different in terms of the calendar. If there are no Florida-type moves, a la 2008 and 2012, from other states, then the primary calendar may kick off in late January and feature a February full of contests in the lead up to what would presumably be Super Tuesday on the first Tuesday in March (March 1). Depending on where Florida ends up -- It could be as late as April based on the likely-to-be-signed elections bill. -- the point at which 50% of the delegates plus one have been allocated (the earliest point at which a candidate could win the nomination) will likely not happen until April anyway.

...without even considering super PACs.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Santorum Super PAC Doubles Down on Ludicrous Delegate Count Claim


FHQ doesn't know where to start on this one. The Red White & Blue Fund -- the super PAC supporting Rick Santorum -- today again pushed its needlessly long plan to reallocate delegates across many of the states to have finalized the binding of delegates.1 That RWB is claiming this based on the rules only reinforces the growing notion that they have no idea what the rules are. Let's look at a few examples.

Romney: 50

Florida (RWB interpretation):
Romney: 23
Gingrich: 16
Santorum: 7
Paul: 4

Romney 29

Arizona (RWB interpretation):
Romney: 14
Santorum: 8
Gingrich: 5
Paul: 2

FHQ notes: Look, both RWB and the Santorum campaign have a leg to stand on in this argument. That Florida and Arizona not only held non-compliant primaries in terms of timing, but also held winner-take-all violations is a clear [double] violation of the RNC delegate selection rules. However, as I have tried to point out -- and this is where RWB and the Santorum campaign begins to show their lack of knowledge about the rules -- they are assuming a directly proportional allocation at the convention. That may happen in a challenge situation, but strict proportionality is not the only way a state can be "proportional" under the rules created in 2010. The delegate allocation can be divided into winner-take-all by congressional district (for the congressional district delegates) and proportional statewide (for the at-large delegates). Under that sort of allocation -- again, that is perfectly proportional under the rules -- Santorum would gain some delegates on Romney, but not nearly to the extent laid out above. The point is that this issue is anything but settled and both RWB and the Santorum campaign are only providing the polar opposite of the current allocation; a polar opposite with several options in between it and a winner-take-all allocation.

Additional note: It is poor form to cherrypick certain bits of rule 15 without considering the whole rule (see below for more of this).

Romney: 32

Idaho (RWB interpretation):
Romney: 20
Santorum: 6
Gingrich: 6

Puerto Rico:
Romney: 20

Puerto Rico (RWB interpretation):
Romney: 18
Santorum: 2

FHQ notes: These are just painful to read. It is an absolutely laughable proposition to claim that either Idaho or Puerto Rico are not abiding by the rules. Did both end up being winner-take-all in their final allocations? Yes, but that is because -- in a manner compliant with the RNC definition of proportionality -- Mitt Romney won over 50% of the vote in each. Again, that is the minimum conditional threshold by which a state with a primary or caucus before April 1 can allocate delegates winner-take-all if it chooses. If a candidate is over a majority of the vote that candidate receives all of that state's delegates. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote then the allocation is proportional. This is A-OK with RNC rules. There is no "valid and viable challenge" that Santorum can bring on this. None. Idaho and Puerto Rico are compliant. Ridiculous.

Romney: 16
Santorum: 14

Michigan (RWB interpretation):
Romney: 15
Santorum: 15

FHQ notes: I've dealt with this one already, but the bottom line is that at least those two at-large delegates should be looked at in Michigan. The original plan called for the full -- unpenalized -- allotment of at-large delegates be proportionally allocated to candidates over the 15% threshold. The Michigan Republican Party did a bad job of rolling out the altered plan to allocate its delegates and a winner-take-all allocation of the at-large delegates is a violation of the RNC rules on the same grounds as Florida and Arizona.

Of course, if this whole thing comes down to one delegate...

I don't know that I have the heart to address the Red, White and Blue Fund's position on the delegate allocation in the islands. Here is that rationale via Jon Ward at HuffPo:

Torchinsky said the estimates that Santorum can pick up delegates in the territories were "educated guesses based on rough numbers," rather than being based on any real political intelligence. 
"Seems that of 18 people, convincing 4 that Rick is the right guy is reasonable," Torchinsky told HuffPost.

FHQ notes: Really!?!

Look, as FHQ mentioned last week in response to the Santorum campaign delegate count conference call -- a count that differs from the RWB's tortured math -- I take them at their word on their efforts in the non-binding caucus states. Can Santorum overperform in the delegate allocation relative to the vote share in those non-binding straw polls? Sure. Will they? That remains to be seen and it is certainly true that they are not the only campaign attempting to pull off such a feat. The Santorum folks are not operating in a vacuum in that regard. Bernstein argues -- and I agree -- that it is those with enthusiasm and organization who will be well-positioned to do well with unbound delegates in the non-binding caucus states.

Even if we give Santorum all of the unbound delegates (336) -- right now and not when they will actually be allocated -- the former Pennsylvania senator only just edges ahead of Romney by 27 delegates in FHQ's count. That's all. And that's before any of the April contests that favor Romney anyway. [Note also that that 336 unbound delegates includes automatic delegates from states that have held contests thus far. Of the automatic delegates who have endorsed a candidate to this point in the race, Romney has gotten the nod from 86% of them. There are only about 85 total automatic delegates left to endorse.]

Yeah, but wouldn't that hurt Romney's efforts to get to 1144? It would, but the jury is still out on exactly how close that would cut it for the former Massachusetts governor.

...stay tuned on that front.

1 I suppose a couple of tweets on the matter weren't enough from FHQ. Truth be told, I was going to come back to this anyway, but thought this memo might have disappeared. Apparently not.
RWB Delegate Analysis 3-22-2012

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There's a reason the Santorum campaign didn't mention West Virginia in its delegate conference call last week

Race to 1144: Louisiana Primary

The Myth of Proportionality's Impact is Dead

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