Showing posts with label Tim Scott. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tim Scott. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Invisible Primary: Visible -- Tim Scott Staffs Up

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

The essential Caitlyn Byrd at the Charleston Post and Courier has the latest on the moves a Tim Scott-aligned super PAC has made in the staff primary. Opportunity Matters Fund Action has brought on both Matt Moore and Mark Knoop, a pair with deep ties in the Palmetto state. Moore, the one-time South Carolina Republican Party chair is a big get for Scott in a cycle in which South Carolina operatives have some tough choices to make with two home-state candidates in the running at the presidential level. Knoop was most recently a part of current Governor Henry McMaster's (R-SC) reelection effort in 2022.

Both hires say something about Scott's positioning in a Republican presidential nomination race. Yes, there is the Scott against (former governor) Nikki Haley angle, and these hires definitely say something about that battle within the state. However, that both operatives have South Carolina ties does raise some questions. First, is the field of Republican candidates so deep that Scott is left to choose from among those campaign hands closest at hand in South Carolina? Second, what do the hires suggest about the strategy of a Scott campaign? It is likely South Carolina or bust to start for Scott at the very least, so putting some to a lot of eggs in that basket is almost essential. And South Carolina is a big piece in the early calendar. Unlike the other three states, Palmetto state Republicans do not allocate their delegates in a proportional manner. They use a hybrid system that is likely to give the winner of the primary a pretty healthy net delegate advantage coming out of the most delegate-rich state on the early calendar. 

But these hires probably say more about strategy than they do about any "dregs" Scott has been left to sift through to staff a presidential campaign. Moore and Knoop are not dregs. 

Donald Trump has been able to raise more than $7 million since the Manhattan indictment came down late last week, but the former president is not the only candidate (or likely candidate) with ample resources in the money primary. Never Back Down, the super PAC backing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has raked in north of $30 million in a little less than a month. Money is not everything, but these are staggering sums that give both men a leg up on the competition for the Republican nomination. And that is what the press releases about these totals are intended to signal to every other candidate: Think twice about getting in. Resistance is futile. Despite the signals, those who are running or considering a run, do not seem to have been deterred. Not yet, at least. 

A few polling quick hits (maybe against my better judgment):
  • A new St. Anselm's poll of the Republican primary race in New Hampshire had Trump leading DeSantis, 42 percent to 29 percent. Governor Chris Sununu (R-NH), who is also considering a bid, was the only other candidate in double digits at 14 percent. That would be enough to get Sununu in the delegate count -- New Hampshire Republicans use the 10 percent qualifying threshold called for in state law -- but is hardly the kind of support that a home-state candidate would like to tout. It certainly is not the kind of support that would keep other candidates away from New Hampshire over the next nine plus months. Sununu, at this point, is no Tom Harkin and Iowa 1992. 
  • Gov. DeSantis Holds Slight Lead Over Donald Trump Among Florida Voters. Without even looking at the numbers, Florida is set to hold a presidential primary on March 19. Two weeks after Super Tuesday. Likely two months after New Hampshire. Those events, not to mention the remainder of the invisible primary, will have A LOT to say about the situation in the Sunshine state in 2024. But sure, one Florida candidate has a small advantage over another Florida candidate in one poll eleven and a half months before a contest that is on few voters' radars. 
  • Trump has ‘commanding lead’ over DeSantis in Massachusetts Republican primary poll conducted after indictment. I mean, see above, but with one caveat: Trump can be two things at once. Yes, the former president more than doubles the support DeSantis received in that survey. But he also falls short of majority support. It is the latter that will have much more to say about "commanding" leads next year. Majority support triggers winner-take-all allocations in a lot of states in the Republican process. Massachusetts included (as of this writing). 

Over at FHQ Plus...
  • If Democrats in the Kansas House were unified like their co-partisans in the state Senate, then the Sunflower state would likely be headed for a state-run presidential primary for 2024. Instead, they split (with most in the Democratic House leadership against), and the bill to bring back the primary died.
If you haven't checked out FHQ Plus yet, then what are you waiting for? Subscribe below.

On this date... 1972, George McGovern (D-SD) won the Wisconsin primary and former New York Mayor John Lindsay withdrew from the Democratic presidential race. 1988, George H.W. Bush won the Colorado Republican caucuses. 2000, both Al Gore and George W. Bush swept the Pennsylvania and Wisconsin primaries (in nomination races each had already clinched). 2011, President Barack Obama announced he was seeking the Democratic nomination and running for reelection. [No, Biden still have not done likewise.]

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

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Invisible Primary: Visible -- South Carolina's Position in the Republican Nomination Process

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

McClatchy's Alex Roarty has a good bit of invisible primary fare from the Palmetto state. Team DeSantis is beginning its build out in South Carolina, a state that figures to be interesting in the 2024 Republican presidential nomination process. Yes, the first-in-the-South primary will be one of the earliest Republican contests. And yes, there are two South Carolinians -- former Governor Nikki Haley and Senator Tim Scott -- and a former president who won the South Carolina primary in 2016 (and who has the backing of the current governor and the state's other US senator) who are vying for (or likely to contest) the nomination in 2024. 

But that does not mean that South Carolina is suddenly Iowa 1992 with Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) running. No, efforts are underway within the broader DeSantis 2024 effort to hire staff in the state, and a couple of state legislators from the conservative-rich Upstate already look to be on board. State Rep. Josh Kimball (R) is aligned with Never Back Down, the super PAC that has been in the news because of all of its recent activity. And state Sen. Danny Verdin (R) has also spoken favorably of the idea of DeSantis running. These are important moves for any candidate who is building an operation in a state where the big names are either already running or lined up behind another candidate. And if they are not big moves then they are among the only moves a candidate can make in building a network in one of the earliest states on the primary calendar. 

Because, here is the thing about South Carolina: it is unique among the early states. While Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada all allocate delegates in a manner proportionate to the results of their contests, South Carolina Republicans do not. The party utilizes and has for years utilized a winner-take-most scheme where the winner statewide and the winners in each of the state's nine congressional districts can take all of the delegates at stake in those jurisdictions. And that is all fine under RNC rules. All four are exempt from the proportionality requirements placed on other states with contests before March 15. 

Any DeSantis ramp up in South Carolina is a nod to both that reality and the potential for a long delegate fight ahead in 2024. A win statewide would likely mean a fairly significant early net delegate advantage coming out of the state and heading into Nevada and beyond to Super Tuesday. That is what favorite sons and daughters, like Scott and Haley, and Trump are banking on. That is what DeSantis is attempting to prevent. The rules matter. That is why, despite South Carolina politicians and a former president/primary winner running, South Carolina will continue to garner attention -- and lots of it -- during the invisible primary in 2023.

Governor Doug Burgum (R-ND) for president? Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) to Iowa? Count those two among the invisible primary maneuverings no one expected to start the week. Yet, there was news of both Republicans' activities on Monday. Handicappers may not give either much of a chance at the 2024 Republican presidential nomination -- and to be fair, the Tillis comms team was quick to offer a Sherman-ish statement denying a prospective bid -- but these moves signal that, as Jonathan Bernstein correctly summed it up, "Republican party actors, including politicians, are not acting as if Trump/DeSantis have the nomination wrapped up between them." 

Too true. Neither Burgum nor Tillis may actually formally seek the Republican nomination, but that both are doing things that prospective presidential candidates do is a sign amid all the jockeying for support of donors, of endorsers and of voters. It is a sign that the unprecedented nature of Trump's third run (in the midst of investigations that may bring indictments, if not convictions) brings with it uncertainty. It is a sign that there may be some doubts about the long term viability of a DeSantis run (despite strong organizational signs in the midst of a "bad" week). One or both of Burgum or Tillis may run for 2024, but neither may actually end up running in 2024. Uncertainty about even well-established and well-positioned candidates breeds activity from everyone else with an eye toward the White House. 

In the travel primary, Marianne Williamson drops in on the voters of South Carolina on Tuesday (March 28). Former Vice President Mike Pence heads to Iowa again on Wednesday (March 29), and Vivek Ramaswamy was just there this past weekend. Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson struck a different tone in California last week than did Ron DeSantis when the Florida governor trekked through the Golden state earlier this month. Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie may have drawn all the headlines in New Hampshire on Monday (March 27), but former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley is also in the Granite state for town halls on Monday and Tuesday.

On this date... 2019, Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam formed an exploratory committee to potentially seek the Democratic nomination. 2020, the date of the New York primary was changed for the first time due to the pandemic, pushing back to June 2.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Invisible Primary: Visible -- Winner-take-most, please

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

Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) continues inching toward a presidential bid. No decision is on the horizon in the near term, but initial hiring has taken place and super PAC infrastructure is taking shape. Former Senate colleague, Cory Gardner (R-CO) heads one such entity, and Rob Collins, who was involved with the super PAC, Future 45, during the 2016 cycle, is in the fold as well. Future 45 often gets pegged as a Trump-aligned group but most of the money it took it in was spent against Hillary Clinton rather than for Trump in that cycle. In the staff primary of 2024, Collins' support of Scott is noteworthy but it seems more like just that -- Scott support -- rather than a defection from Team Trump.

Douglas Schoen has an op-ed up at The Hill assessing the state of the Republican presidential race. And that is fine. But this section violated a major pet peeve of FHQ's:
The design of the Republican Party’s winner-take-all delegate system also inherently benefits a candidate like Trump, whose devoted base comprises roughly 35 to 40 percent of the primary electorate. This is far from a majority but is enough to carry him to the nomination, as it did in 2016.
Technically, this is right. There is a "winner-take-all design" to the Republican presidential nomination process. But when one describes it in this manner without all the important caveats, it just ends up perpetuating the myth that the Republican allocation process is ALL winner-take-all. It is not

Look, it takes a lot to explain all of the caveats. Truly winner-take-all rules, where one candidate can win all of a state's delegates if he or she wins a small plurality even by just one vote, are prohibited before March 15. But states can be proportional with a winner-take-all trigger, where if a candidate wins at least a majority of the vote statewide, he or she wins all of the state's delegates, before March 15. And states after March 15 can still adopt a variety of rules. They are not all winner-take-all after that point. 

The answer to this should be pretty simple. So, for 2024, call the Republican delegate allocation process winner-take-most and be done with it. Winner-take-most encompasses the full range of proportional (winner-take-more), hybrid and winner-take-all rules without having to get down in the weeds about the caveats to all the different plans. This holds when comparing the Republican process to that of the Democrats as well. The latter mandates proportional rules while the former allows a variety of winner-take-most rules. 

Over at Bloomberg, Jonathan Bernstein has a good one on how an organized Trump campaign in 2024 might be able to exploit the divorce between delegate allocation and selection in the Republican process and use it to his advantage even in the event he doesn't win a majority of allocated delegates. A few things on this one:

1. There may be some tinkering at the margins that brings some delegate allocation in line with the allocation process on the state level, but it is probably too late in the 2024 process to mount a full scale effort to change the rules. The national party rules are already locked in for the cycle and have been since April of last year. But there may be some efforts on the state level to alter state rules on the matter. 

2. Still, there is reason to think that those efforts will be limited. As Bernstein notes, delegates on the Democratic side have to meet the approval of the candidates/campaigns they will represent at the national convention. That is not necessarily the case on the Republican side. But there was an attempt to add candidate approval to the rules that were to come out of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Here is the FHQ dispatch from Tampa at the time and the relevant excerpt from a proposed rules change that did not make the cut: 

Proposed Rule 15(b):
For any manner of binding or allocating delegates permitted by these Rules, no delegate or alternate delegate who is bound or allocated to a particular presidential candidate may be certified under Rule 19 unless the presidential candidate to whom the delegate or alternate delegate is bound or allocated has pre-certified or approved the delegate or alternate delegate.

Analysis of Change:
This is the rule that has drawn so much backlash from Paul supporters, Santorum supporters and other state party officials and has threatened to throw the convention into a floor fight. Honestly, this change has the potential to be the proportionality requirement of of 2016: an overhyped rule with no real impact on the process. At the heart of the conflict is the notion that delegates being approved by candidates is a power grab at the expense of a state party's right to choose how it allocates its delegates. Further, it takes a grassroots activity meant to build the party and turns it over to the candidate or candidates. FHQ gets the rationale, but I struggle to see what fundamental impact the change will have.

Actually, I do see the impact it will have. Together with Rule 15(a) the candidate approval mechanism altogether ends the possibility that a statewide vote can be overturned in subsequent steps in a caucus process by enthusiastic and organized supporters of a candidate that did not comprise a majority or plurality of the statewide vote. We can call it the Ron Paul issue. It isn't a problem because the Paul folks and their supporters were behaving well within the confines of the rules laid out for the 2012 cycle. It is, however, perceived as a problem by the national party. It takes what has been an orderly process and leaves the order up to chance every cycle; opening the door to discord within the party and a less than cohesive national convention that could hurt the presumptive nominee for the party.

The backlash was pretty severe and was seen as another in a series of power grabs by the national party orchestrated by Ben Ginsberg who was running the show for the Romney team on the convention Rules Committee at the time. I mean, conversations about the Ginsberg power grab and the true grassroots of the party took place among RNC members for years after this. State parties are loathe to make changes that shift the balance of power away from them. Most will resist efforts to change the linkage (or lack thereof) between the delegate allocation and selection processes. 

The bottom line here is that Trump has in 2023 an institutional advantage that he and his campaign did not have in 2015. That is important.

On this date... 1988, it was Super Tuesday. Well, not only was it Super Tuesday, it was Southern Super Tuesday, the first real concerted effort at a regional primary date. I have put 3/8/88 into a lot of datasets a lot of times over the years. It is burned into that gray matter.