Showing posts with label filing deadlines. Show all posts
Showing posts with label filing deadlines. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Extent of Jeb Bush's Alabama "Problem"

This story that the Jeb Bush campaign and its supporters failed to line up a full slate of delegate candidates littered the FHQ Twitter stream last night and has picked up some steam this morning. Let's be real here: It is certainly something of a problem, but the degree of that problem is being overstated. Much of the reporting thus far on the matter -- on the heels of the Alabama filing deadline late last week -- is missing quite a bit of context. And, really, much of it has missed the real story.

But first, Jeb.

Alabama Republicans will send 50 delegates to the national convention in Cleveland next year. Three of those are automatic delegates (the state party chair, the national committeeman and the national committeewoman) which leaves 47 other delegate slots that candidates, their campaigns and supporters have to fill by filing to run. Of those 47 spots, Bush has 32 delegate candidates covering 29 vacancies. That is short of the more than full slates that candidates like Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio had filing in support of them.

Looks bad, right?

It is. If a campaign touts its strength in filing a full slate of delegate candidates in Tennessee -- as the Bush campaign has done and others have reported -- then it says something that the campaign has missed the mark further south in Alabama. It says something about organization in an area of the country -- SEC primary territory -- where Bush has spent some time this fall. It says something more that, compared to the other candidates, Bush ranks sixth in terms of the number of Alabama delegate candidates that filed pledged to the former Florida governor.

There are, however, a couple of matters that have gone unsaid and/or underreported in this story. One is that the above it just one comparison. The second is that the process in Alabama -- the rules -- are being overlooked. Both factors when not considered help to overstate the extent of the problem for Bush in Alabama.

2012
Sure, when we look at the 32 delegate candidates that filed on Jeb Bush's behalf compared to the 76 potential delegates that aligned with Carson and Cruz, it looks kind of ominous. Again, it is. FHQ does not want to understate that. In the invisible primary, that is a signal that organizationally, Bush is lagging behind his competitors. Think of this as a straw poll of activists in Alabama, which it functionally is. Jeb Bush just came in sixth. That's winnowing territory.

Yet, look back four years and you will see that all four candidates who made the Alabama presidential primary ballot -- Gingrich, Paul, Romney and Santorum -- all had gaps in the delegate slates that appeared on the ballot next to their names. And yes, that is more an excuse from the Bush perspective than anything else. 2016 is not 2012. However, if FHQ had asked you before the Alabama filing deadline -- so absent this revelation about delegate slates there -- whether Bush would get more or less than 12 delegates (of 47 total), I suspect most would have taken the under given the crowded field of candidates.

Why 12 delegates?

That is the number of delegates Mitt Romney won after the March 13 Alabama presidential primary in 2012. If Bush is a stand-in for 2012 Romney, then those 32 delegate candidates covering 29 slots do not really look all that bad. They cover the bases. Romney won 8 delegates statewide. Bush has 14 at-large delegate candidates covering 13 (of 26) slots. Romney won the first congressional district in 2012 but with less than a majority (two delegates) and was runner up in the fifth and sixth districts (one delegate each). Bush has at least two delegate candidates in each of those three districts.

The delegates slots that Bush is most likely to win, then, are covered. The harder part, perhaps, is getting to the 20% of the vote statewide and in the congressional districts to qualify for those delegates. That strikes FHQ as a much larger Alabama problem at the moment.

Process
Well, what if the at this moment problem is not a problem after the March 1 primary in the Yellowhammer state? What happens if Bush actually exceeds expectations and wins more delegates than his campaign has delegate candidates to cover?

First of all, Bush would still likely have enough delegate candidates to cover his bases even given a winnowed field. But on the offhand chance that Bush really exceeds expectations, and he wins, say, 35 delegates, what happens?

The Alabama Republican Party allocation rules state that voters cannot vote for Jeb Bush and then vote for delegate candidates aligned another candidate to fill in blanks left by Bush. There is no procedure to discard ballots for conflicts (i.e.: voting for Bush and then voting for a Rubio delegate where there is no Bush delegate), but the comments of the Alabama Republican Party seem to indicate that the topline, presidential preference vote has precedence over the delegate votes.1 The candidate is going to get their delegates in other words.

But how?

Well, if a voter cannot vote for Bush and then a delegate candidate not aligned with Bush, then that means that Bush is winning the top line vote. However, that also means those delegate slots are not being filled. Those slots are vacant.

The first step in filling those vacancies is through the alternate delegate process. The alternate delegates are not elected directly on the ballot. Instead, the state party executive committee selects alternates for the statewide at-large delegates while alternates for congressional district delegate slots are selected by the congressional district committees. There could theoretically be some jockeying on these committees to stack the alternate slates, but recall that these decisions are being made after the vote in the presidential primary. And again, the state party has said that the candidates will receive their rightful share of the delegates based on the vote in the primary.

And in the event there are any shenanigans based on one candidate exceeding expectations -- at least as measured by a comparison to how well their campaign did in lining up delegate candidates -- then the state executive committee will fill those slots.

--
Is all this a black eye for Jeb Bush and his campaign during a downward trend for them? Sure, but is it the end of the world? No. Bush seems to have his bases covered for even a reasonable result for him in Alabama. But even if he exceeds even the 2012 Romney baseline, the Alabama rules provide cover.

...and that is true for the other candidates who played the delegate filing game even worse than Bush as well.


--
1 Those comments from Reed Phillips at ALGOP (via Daniel Malloy at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution):
A candidate that wins enough of the vote to be allocated any delegates, will still receive the number of delegates that they won in the primary. If there are any vacancies in delegate slots then the delegates that did qualify will vote to fill those vacancies for that candidate. If a candidate didn’t have anyone qualify as a delegate for them but wins enough of the vote to have delegates, then the state executive committee will vote to fill those slots.


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Monday, January 30, 2012

I'll see your white knight and raise you a filing deadline. Why It's Too Late for Entry in the Republican Nomination Race

Way back in the summer (of 2011), FHQ began fielding calls and emails from a number of media outlets asking about the filing deadlines for primaries and caucuses in the various states. It really picked up in late September and into October as some folks in the press continued to, well, press the notion of a late Palin candidacy. From that point onward, the Palin speculation may have dropped off to some extent, but a cottage industry has popped up in the wake of it and proliferated throughout the Republican presidential primary landscape around the notion of late entry. Candidates go up, candidates come down, Romney stays the same and the overall field is weak are among the various catalysts for continued speculation. And when Newt Gingrich won South Carolina (the third winner in three contests), casting some doubt on the ability of Republican primary voters to come to a consensus on any one of the declared candidates, the whirling dervish of late entry speculation spun even faster.

Sure, the naysayers would say, "Well, it is too late. Deadlines have passed. No one else can get in." But that never really stopped the drum beat of late entry. FHQ has been in this latter group, but has been as guilty as others from not having fully dug into the matter. Let's throw some data at the issue. What follows will either put things to rest once and for all that it is too late or embolden those chomping at the bit for another round or future rounds of late entry talk. [Yeah, Bill Kristol, I'm looking at you.]

So, is it possible for another candidate to get in?

Below are the filing deadlines in the remaining states. And hey, because FHQ is feeling generous let us also consider whether those states also allow uncommitteed/no preference slots on the primary ballot -- Voters have the option to vote for uncommitted or no preference on the ballot. -- and/or allow write-in votes. Let's open this door as wide as it will open and look at the delegates at stake in those states. The filing deadlines have passed in the February states, and the list below is of states with March or later contests -- with the exception of Michigan which allows voters to choose "uncommitted". If a state does not appear, all options are closed off to any potential late entrants. [Georgia, for instance, had a deadline 60 prior to the March 6 primary in which the candidate list was set, prohibits the uncommitted line on the ballot and does not allow write-in votes.] Finally, there are also a number of states where none of this information is known. Those states are included in the table only because it isn't known whether those three options have been closed off.

2012 Presidential Primary Filing Deadlines
State1Contest
Date
Filing
Deadline
Uncommitted/
No Preference
Write-InDelegates
Michigan2/2812/9Uncommitted--30
Alaska3/62/4No preference--27
Idaho3/62/4Uncommitted--32
Massachusetts3/61/6No preference41
North Dakota3/6Ballot set 2/12n/an/a28
Tennessee3/612/6Uncommitted358
Vermont3/61/9--17
Virginia3/612/22Bill to allow uncommitted--49
Wyoming3/6n/a4n/an/a29
Kansas3/1012/31Uncommitted--40
Virgin Islands3/102/10Uncommitted--9
Alabama3/131/13Uncommitted50
American Samoa3/13n/an/an/a9
Hawaii3/132/285Uncommitted6720
Mississippi3/131/14--840
Missouri3/17n/an/an/a52
Puerto Rico3/181/18n/an/a23
Illinois3/201/6Uncommitted9--69
Louisiana3/2412/9Uncommitted10--46
Maryland4/31/11Uncommitted111237
Texas4/32/113Uncommitted155
Washington, DC4/31/4Uncommitted--19
Wisconsin4/31/28 1/31Uninstructed42
Connecticut4/243/2Uncommitted1428
Delaware4/242/24--17
New York4/242/9Uncommitted1595
Pennsylvania4/242/14Uncommitted1672
Rhode Island4/241/21Uncommitted--19
Indiana5/82/1017----46
North Carolina5/83/618Uncommitted--55
West Virginia5/81/28Uncommitted1931
Nebraska5/15203/7Uncommitted--35
Oregon5/153/6--28
Arkansas5/223/1Uncommitted21--2236
Kentucky5/221/31Uncommitted--2345
California6/53/23Uncommitted24172
Montana6/53/1225Uncommitted26
New Jersey6/54/2--50
New Mexico6/53/16----23
South Dakota6/53/27Uncommitted26--28
Utah6/263/15----40
Source: FEC, state election law, state party rules
1 States included above are those where there is still an option for a candidate not currently declared in the 2012 Republican presidential nomination (ie: filing deadline has not passed, there is an uncommitted or no preference line on the ballot or where write-in is a possibility).
2 Candidates placed on ballot according to who is an announced candidate by February 1. 
3 See Tennessee Code (Title 2, Chapter 13, Part 3).
4 Precinct caucuses begin 2/9. 
5 Candidates who enter race after 2/1 can be given an extension.
6 It is not clear whether there is an "uncommitted" line on the Hawaii caucus ballot. The evidence seems to suggest that only votes for actual declared candidates count. That said, delegates do not not have to commit to any candidate, but if they do that delegate is committed to that candidate -- if still in the race -- through the first ballot at the Republican National Convention. The delegates can go to the convention uncommitted, but it is a different process than is being talked about in the other cases where voters are marking a ballot for "uncommitted".
7 Write-in votes are only counted if they are cast for candidates registered with the FEC.
8 See Mississippi Code (Title 23, Chapter 15, Article 13B).
9 Delegates (or slates of delegates) file at the same time as candidates, but those delegates can file as "uncommitted" and is listed as such on the ballot. However, there is no "uncommitted" list on the presidential preference portion of the ballot.
10 There is no uncommitted line on the Louisiana primary ballot, but delegates may be uncommitted if no candidate receives over 25% of the primary vote. Those delegates would go to the national convention uncommitted. The congressional district delegates automatically go to the national convention unpledged. 
11 Maryland delegates can run as "uncommitted" and be marked that way on the primary ballot if the party requests such of the State Board of Elections. [Maryland Code Title 8, Subtitle 5, 8-501] There is no evidence that the Maryland GOP has made such a request in 2012. The Maryland Secretary of State's office confirmed to FHQ on February 2, 2012 that only the Democratic presidential primary ballot will include an uncommitted line. The Republican primary ballot will not.
12 Write-ins are allowed if a candidate files a certificate of candidacy to run as a write-in candidate. The deadline for that is the earlier of either within a week of filing with the FEC or the Wednesday before the election. [Maryland Code Title 5, Subtitle 3, 5-303]
13 February 1 is the end of the filing period established by the courts in the Texas redistricting case, but any changes to those districts may ultimately affect both the date of the primary and the close of the filing period. On January 27, the February 1 filing deadline was suspended until further order by the San Antonio court
14 Write-in votes are allowed so long as the candidate has registered his or her candidacy with the Connecticut secretary of state.
15 The "uncommitted" line is allowed on the presidential primary ballot in New York so long as the procedures to file -- as if a candidate -- are followed.
16 Delegates (or slates of delegates) file as the presidential candidate and indicate whether they are committed or uncommitted which is in turn listed on the ballot. As is the case on the Illinois ballot, there is no line for "uncommitted" on the presidential preference portion of the ballot.
17 Petitions to file for candidacy in Indiana are due to the secretary of state by January 31.
18 The North Carolina State Board of Elections meets to set the ballot based on a list of candidates provided by the state parties and those candidates having filed by petition by the Monday (3/5/12) preceding the Board meeting.
19 The delegates listed on the West Virginia ballot have their presidential preference (or "uncommitted") listed next to their names on the primary ballot, but their is no "uncommitted" line among the presidential preference portion of the ballot.
20 The Nebraska primary is non-binding. All delegates will be allocated at the July state convention.
21 See Arkansas Code (Title 7, Chapter 8, Section 201).
22 See Arkansas Code (Title 7, Chapter 5, Section 525).
23 Write-ins are not expressly forbidden according to Kentucky code, but the allowance and declaration of intent for are only associated with general elections. Recent past presidential primary elections have also had no write-in votes cast. 
24 Voters can write in anyone on a ballot, but those ballots will only be counted if the candidate voted for has filed as a write-in candidate with the state.
25 Montana has an advisory/non-binding primary on the Republican side. All delegates are selected at the mid-June state convention. 
26 The uncommitted provision in the state law is dependent upon the state parties not having delegate selection rules prohibiting such a designation on the ballot. The South Dakota Republican Party allows uncommitted slates to appear on the ballot

That's 1768 delegates where either the filing deadlines have not passed, uncommitted lines are on or can be added to the ballot or write-in votes are allowed. If the states where not enough information is known (American Samoa, Missouri, Puerto Rico and Wyoming) and those where a deadline has passed and legislation to add an uncommitted line to ballot is under consideration in the state legislature (Virginia) are subtracted from the total, that leaves us with 1606 delegates. However, if we add back in the delegates from the early caucuses where delegates will eventually go to the Tampa convention unbound (Iowa, Maine, Colorado and maybe Minnesota -- see the delegate allocation by state) that adds back up to 128 delegates for 1734 delegates. If the list is constrained more simply to the states where filing deadlines have not passed, the total delegates open to a late entrant drops to 1157. After Tuesday, when Kentucky's (and Indiana's petition -- see footnote 17 above) deadlines pass that total will drop below 1144 to 1066.

No matter how you look at it, then, there are or would be enough delegates for a late entrant to possibly get to 1144, or in the more chaotic, yet more likely late entry (if it were to happen), scenario after Tuesday, earn enough support to keep another candidate from getting there, sending the decision to the convention; a brokered, uh, deadlocked convention.

But here's the thing: Who is that candidate? Let me rephrase that. Who is the candidate who can not only successfully enter the race late, but who can also marshal the organization necessary to cobble together enough delegates to take the nomination or throw enough of a monkeywrench into the process and still maintain support in the party to win the nomination at the convention? Let's think about this for a moment. There are people in this race now actively seeking the nomination (and who have been running for president for quite some time) who cannot get on the ballots in some states. And we are expecting someone to come in and immediately be able to beat these deadlines, organize write-in efforts and uncommitted slates of delegates to get within shouting distance of 1144 or a lower total held by the frontrunner.

I apologize, folks. But I just don't see it. There is no silver bullet. There is no white knight.

...unless someone else's name -- someone other than Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum or Ron Paul -- is put forth at a brokered, uh, deadlocked convention.

Is that possible?

Sure.

Is that probable?

There is nothing that has happened in the post-reform era (1972-present) that would lead anyone to the conclusion that it is.