Showing posts with label travel primary. Show all posts
Showing posts with label travel primary. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Invisible Primary: Visible -- Where are all the delegate selection plans?

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

May 3 is fast approaching. That date may carry less significance in 2023 because the 2024 Democratic presidential nomination process looks to be only nominally competitive at this time. But that does not mean that May 3 does not matter at all. 

What is the big deal about May 3? That is the date by which state Democratic parties must have submitted draft delegate selection plans (DSPs) for 2024 to the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee (DNCRBC) for review (and ultimately approval in some form). 

But May 3 is still more than a month away. 

It is. But part of the submission process is that a state party's draft DSPs must be made public for comment for a period of 30 days before they can be submitted. In other words, if one does the backward math, then 30 days before May 3 falls on April 2, a little more than a week away. And so far anyway, there has not been a rush to get these draft DSPs in front of the public. Just seven states, territories or other jurisdictions of 57 have posted them at this point asking from public comment: Arkansas, Democrats Abroad, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon and Washington, DC. [Apparently there is some urgency in O states.]

None of this is hugely important ten months out from any votes being cast, but it does offer a glimpse into a few things. State laws dictate when most primaries will be held and lock in those dates until a legislature opts to change them. Some state legislatures across the country are considering their calendar options, but for caucus states or other states with 2024 question marks, the DSPs provide some insight into the plans of state parties (where state laws are not involved).

For example, there is no official date for the North Dakota caucuses at this point. The DSP will give us the first indication of where the contest will end up on the 2024 presidential primary calendar. The same is true for, say, Iowa as well. And that is kind of the point here. Iowa Democrats do not have a protected spot atop the Democratic calendar for 2024 as the state has for the entire post-reform era. The Iowa Democratic DSP will give some of the first clues as to whether the party will relent to the DNC calendar changes this cycle or buck the national party and hold unsanctioned caucuses earlier than allowed. 

That goes for New Hampshire too. And Democrats in the Granite state posted their draft DSP earlier this week. In most cycles, New Hampshire Democrats would simply parrot the adopted DNC rules and give the date the national party had carved out for them with a simple parenthetical appended: (date subject to change). The message there from New Hampshire Democrats? "We will hold our primary on the date set aside for us unless some other state jumps in front, in which case the secretary of state will bump our primary up to protect our first-in-the-nation position."

Of course, 2024 is not going to be a normal cycle for New Hampshire Democrats. There is only a guaranteed early slot for the party if they follow the new DNC mandate and conduct a primary on February 6, 2024. And all signs have pointed toward an earlier position on the calendar. Earlier than February 6, anyway. The state party has basically signaled since December that it would follow the state law and the New Hampshire secretary of state, following said law, will likely take that primary into January 2024.

But now, New Hampshire Democrats have put a more official stamp on that sentiment. The newly released draft DSP specifies no date, a break from the past protocol. Additionally, it says what New Hampshire Democrats have been saying for months
The “first determining step” of New Hampshire's delegate selection process will occur on a date to be determined by the New Hampshire Secretary of State in accordance with NH RSA 653:9, with a “Presidential Preference Primary.” The Republican Presidential Preference Primary will be held in conjunction with the Democratic Presidential Preference Primary.
The key there is the solidarity with Republicans in New Hampshire. In other words, there will be no break up, no severing of the two parties' processes. That would seemingly eliminate some alternative routes for the New Hampshire Democratic delegate selection process. It would also open the state party to penalties from the DNC. But this is just a draft after all. Consider it New Hampshire Democrats' official counter to the 2024 calendar rules the DNC adopted in February. There will be further back and forth as the New Hampshire plan goes through the review process, including representatives of the state party defending the current plan before the DNCRBC. There will be more clues to come, and probably some penalties from the look of it.

In the travel primary, maybe Ron DeSantis is just heading to Michigan next month. Or maybe the Florida governor is trekking to a state with a late February primary in 2024. Michigan Republicans (and the Republican National Committee) still have some decisions to make on that front. 

In a busy week for committee hearings on presidential primary (movement) bills, there are updates on Connecticut's possible move up to early April and Ohio's potential push back to March. 

On this date... 1980, Jimmy Carter swept the Virginia caucuses, garnering more than 80 percent of the vote on his way to a contentious Democratic (re)nomination. 2016, there were contests in American Samoa (Republican caucuses), Arizona (primary), Idaho (Democratic caucuses) and Utah (caucuses). It was a microcosm of the processes in both parties that cycle as Sanders and Cruz won caucuses (except in American Samoa) and Clinton and Trump won the Arizona primary. There were exceptions throughout primary season, but in general the two eventual nominees performed better in primaries than in caucuses. 2017, legislation funding the Utah presidential primary was signed into law. After not funding the election in either 2012 or 2016, forcing caucuses, the legislature ponied up the funds necessary to switch back to a primary for 2020. 2020, the Wyoming Democratic Party nixed in-person voting for the upcoming caucuses due to Covid, shifting to a completely vote-by-mail structure, the window of which was also extended.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Invisible Primary: Visible -- Karl Rove's Faux Certainty on 2024 Unknowns

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

FHQ will have to hand it to Karl Rove. His latest attempt to wade into and use the rules to frame an upcoming battle for the Republican presidential nomination is much better than his last in 2015.

But that does not mean that it was tethered to the reality of the evolving rules for the 2024 cycle. Let's dig in.

On the calendar, Rove creates an imaginary tiff between Iowa and New Hampshire:
We don’t yet know exactly when these contests—Iowa is a caucus, the others are primaries—will be held. Iowa Democrats want to allow mail-in ballots in addition to in-person voting. New Hampshire believes this would make Iowa a primary, which would mean New Hampshire’s contest would have to move ahead of Iowa’s because it holds the nation’s first primary by law. Hawkeye State Republicans want to stop mail-in ballots so Iowa remains first as a caucus.
First of all, Iowa Democrats, in pitching the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee last year to stay among the earliest states in 2024, tried to sell them on an all-mail caucus process. Secondly, what Iowa Democrats do has next to nothing to do with what Republicans in the Hawkeye state may or may not do. The parties there, despite the state law, do not have to conduct delegate selection events on the same date. If Iowa Republicans truly take issue with the Democrats' process, then the party can schedule earlier caucuses. 

And there is no indication that New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan (R) has any problem with what Iowa Democrats plan to do. That is because there is no Iowa Democratic plan yet. So, there may or may not be any issue here at all. Let's cross that bridge when and if we get to it. 

Then Rove moves on to South Carolina:
Even if that’s worked out, South Carolina may force the schedule earlier. Democrats are trying to shift the primary there from Feb. 24 to Feb. 3. The state GOP likes the later date, which is far enough into the calendar that South Carolina often settles the presidential nomination—as it did in 2000 for Republicans and 2020 for Democrats. Still, if South Carolina Democrats vote Feb. 3, New Hampshire could move its primary for both parties earlier. Then Iowa Republicans, and maybe Iowa Democrats, will move their caucuses ahead of New Hampshire’s primaries.
Trying? February 24?

None of that makes any sense. The DNC has adopted rules for 2024. Those rules include a waiver for South Carolina Democrats to hold a primary on February 3. The national party required South Carolina Democrats to pledge to request of the state a February 3 primary date, otherwise a waiver would not have been granted. And remember, in South Carolina, the state parties -- not the state government -- choose the primary date. This is a done deal. There is no trying. South Carolina Democrats will hold a February 3 primary. As in Iowa, Republicans in the Palmetto state are not really affected by what Democrats in the state do. They can opt for a separate date (and more often than not have, as has become the custom in South Carolina).

And where does February 24 come from? Seriously. That is not set in state law. The primary date is not set in law at all in South Carolina. It was not set in DNC rules either. There were no rules on the early calendar until this past February and they have only ever called for a February 3 primary for Democrats in South Carolina.

Look, the beginning of the calendar is unsettled. Little of what Rove mentions is of any consequence right now. What the early calendar hinges on now is what Nevada Republicans do. If they opt for the new February 6 primary, then Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina will have January contests. If Republicans in the Silver state opt out of that primary, then later (than February 6) caucuses might keep South Carolina Republicans out of January but not Iowa and New Hampshire.

Next, Michigan does not get a pass in Rove's inventory of early calendar snags either:
In Michigan, Democrats moved their primary from March 12 to Feb. 27 by law. To avoid having their delegates slashed, the GOP will instead select them at a convention after March 1.
For once, Rove got something right. Michigan did shift its primary up for 2024 to align with the new carve out created in the 2024 DNC rules. But switching to a convention to avoid RNC sanction is just one of several messy options for Michigan Republicans (and the RNC).

Rove then moves on to what he calls the second phase of the calendar:
On March 9, there are four small contests and then on March 12 as many as five more states—Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, Washington and perhaps Hawaii—select 188 more delegates. 
FHQ challenges Rove to name those March 9 contests. There are no contests currently scheduled for March 9. There may be at some point, but as of this time there are none. And of the March 12 contests listed, Missouri has no primary or other contest scheduled for March 12. If current legislation is eventually passed, then the Show-Me state would fall on March 12, but we're not there yet. Idaho? Well, the Gem state primary may be on the move too. Hawaii Republicans are the rare party to actually spell out a specific date for their caucuses in state party rules. Most caucus states do not. Yet, it is Hawaii that gets the "perhaps" and not Idaho or Missouri. Yes, there is legislation in the Aloha state to create a Super Tuesday presidential primary, but it has not become law nor have Hawaii Republicans publicly shown any desire to opt into such a contest in lieu of their traditional caucuses.

And then there is that 188 delegates. Well, that has not been set yet. And Rove notes that at the top, saying, "final allocations will be set after this November’s off-year elections." It is true that the only states that are unknowns at this point in terms of the number of delegates they will have in 2024 are those with off-year gubernatorial and state legislative elections later this year. But Mississippi is one of those states. It is wrong to bring exact numbers to the table if they are exactly wrong. 

Why Rove? Why?

Finally, Rove moves on to the final leg of his three-part calendar:
The situation changes dramatically on March 15, when the third period kicks off. If the field isn’t down to two by then, a clear front-runner will be all but impossible to beat. Primaries can then be winner-take-all. If there’s still a fractured, multicandidate field, Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio could decide the nomination on March 19. If one candidate leads in all four states, no matter how narrowly, he walks away with 325 delegates, more than a quarter of what’s needed for the nomination.
Credit where credit is due: Rove gets the winner-take-all description correct. States can be winner-take-all on or after March 15. In the past, some have been truly winner-take-all after that point on the calendar while others have not. That will likely continue to be the case in 2024. Among the states that are truly winner-take-all? Florida and Ohio. For now. But that could change in the coming months. State parties have not finalized their delegate allocation plans for 2024. Presumably, Arizona Republicans will be truly winner-take-all again if the party opts back into the presidential primary this cycle. But again, none of that is settled yet. Illinois? Well, the at-large and automatic delegates (a little less than a quarter of the total) are allocated winner-take-all based on the statewide results in the Illinois primary. But the remaining three-quarters of the delegates -- the congressional district delegates -- are directly elected on the primary ballot. That allocation may tilt toward the statewide winner of the primary, but will not necessarily end up sending all of the congressional district delegates the winner's way. 

The thing that is most bothersome about Rove's op-ed is the faux certainty with which he approaches a vast number of things that are not settled yet in the areas of the primary calendar or delegate allocation rules. It is unnecessary, and it is misleading. Write to include some of the many gray areas in all of this.

FHQ agrees that there will likely be three distinct phases to the Republican primary season in 2024. But it is unlikely to be broken down into early/proportional/winner-take-all as Rove does it in an effort to shoehorn it into his 2016 repeat narrative. Instead, the calendar is very likely to break into January and February contests as the first part. And again, if Nevada Republicans opt into the February 6 primary, then that will mark the end of the first phase. It would give way to a big gap in the action from February 6 until Super Tuesday on March 5. That is a long time without any new results. That is also a LONG time for candidates who have yet to win anything to make a case to donors, much less voters, that they can and should continue in the race. The winnowing pressure -- should that one month gap actually come into being -- will be great. And that counters the 2016 repeat narrative. 

If that is not enough -- that winnowing pressure created by such a lengthy break in the action -- then the Passover-triggered abandonment of April will neatly cordon off the second and third phases of the campaign. The second phase -- Super Tuesday, the rest of March and the first Tuesday in April -- will be the most delegate-rich phase. If winnowing has occurred from the first phase, then the second will be about either one candidate creating a net delegate advantage over the rest of the remaining field or yield to a Clinton-Obama type (or Ford-Reagan) battle to evenly split delegates. The former may or may not resolve things. If not, then the third phase -- overtime, consisting of May contests (remember, there will be no June contests in the Republican process in 2024) -- will likely resolve the battle. 

But if it is the latter, evenly-match race, then overtime may be about getting to the primary season finish line with the most (allocated) delegates to take into the convention. Regardless, that second likely gap in April presents another extended period of winnowing pressure. And it will likely be greater than the first gap. The initial gap will be more likely to weed out the low-hanging fruit, lesser candidates who really had no chance at the nomination to begin with. The second gap will be more likely to exert pressure on candidates who feel they are viable (and may have a case), but will face calls to bow out so the party can consolidate behind one candidate.

But, of course, the above refers to the most allocated delegates. It could be that some candidate is able to corner the market in the selection process and settle the score that way. The bottom line is that there are a lot of unknowns at this point. One established known is that Karl Rove should stop writing in the Wall Street Journal about the delegate selection process. 

Endorsement Primary No, Ron DeSantis is not yet formally in the Republican presidential nomination race, but that has not stopped folks from endorsing his nascent campaign. Chip Roy (R-TX) became the first member of Congress to throw his support behind the Florida governor's (not yet) bid. Nikki Haley has one congressional endorsement and Donald Trump has a handful. But most Republican members of Congress have yet to align with any candidate. [More on that below.]

On the travel primary front, former Vice President Mike Pence was in New Hampshire on Thursday, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is on his way to the Granite state and former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson will trek to South Carolina as will Haley and Tim Scott. [Speaking of Christie, he has noted that a decision on a White House bid will come in the next 45-60 days. That is a window that roughly covers the end of April and the first half of May.]

Yes, it is early. No, elected officials do not have to weigh in now (or at all). Yes, FHQ discussed non-endorsements in the Republican nomination process earlier this week. Politico has more evidence of that from among a group that will continue to be particularly conflicted as things evolve and 2024 approaches: the Florida Republican congressional delegation.

On this date... 2012, Missouri Republicans took their second bite at the apple. Following a non-binding primary -- after majority Republican legislators could not agree to eliminate a presidential primary that was not going to be used -- Republicans began gathering in caucuses across the Show-Me state to actually kick off the delegate allocation/selection process. Non-binding events were an issue for Republicans in 2012, one the national party has spent several cycles attempting to resolve. 2019, Kirstin Gillibrand formally entered the Democratic nomination race after previously forming an exploratory committee in January. 2020, Covid began to affect the presidential primary calendar. Three of four scheduled primaries carried on, but Ohio became the earliest scheduled state to make alternative plans, ultimately pushing back into April. Other states had already delayed delegate selection events or had begun the process of delaying them, but Ohio's original primary date was the first/earliest to come up on the calendar and be affected.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Invisible Primary: Visible -- Republican Non-Endorsements

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

It is early yet in the Republican presidential nomination process. There are, after all, only two major contenders -- Donald Trump and Nikki Haley -- who have entered the race and who have held elective office (at a level that has conventionally seen success in presidential contests). Each already has a handful of endorsements as well. And that is another of those invisible primary metrics -- endorsement primary -- to eye as one assesses the degree to which Trump's institutional support has declined relative to his standing four years ago (or how much better it is than it was eight years ago). FHQ has already discussed this in terms of where the former president's organizational efforts stand, but it matters for endorsements too. 

And one sees this not only in endorsements, particularly in endorsement defections from Trump, but also in non-endorsements, as in elites and elected officials refusing to endorse Trump or anyone else at this early stage of the race. Sen. Pete Ricketts (R-NE) is new to the job, having been appointed to the post following the departure of Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), so maybe the question is a natural inquiry for the Nebraska press. But the senator's response is noteworthy in that he passed on the opportunity to endorse. Then-Governor Ricketts, like many elected officials, was on Team Trump in 2020 as a campaign surrogate. But the two were at odds during the 2022 midterms both in and out of Nebraska. The president called Ricketts a RINO for supporting Governor Brian Kemp (R-GA) in his reelection bid in the Peach state, and Ricketts asked Trump not to intervene (and endorse) in the open Republican gubernatorial primary in Nebraska (advice the president refused to heed). 

And it matters for now that Ricketts also did not line up behind Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL), someone to whom members of his family have donated. Now, that may or may not hold as this race progresses (and DeSantis formally enters the contest). But the extent to which elected officials stay on the sidelines is important. Not endorsing Trump says something: that elite-level support has ebbed since 2020. But not endorsing anyone else might also suggest that those same elites cannot (or do not want to) coordinate against Trump in 2024. And that again says something about where Trump is on the 2015 or 2019 spectrum of strength in this evolving battle. These signals are important to assessing where the race stands.

This is also something that bears watching at the state party level as well. Ed Cox, the newly sworn in chair of the New York Republican Party reassumed his position atop the party and was quick to note that the NYGOP, like the national party, would remain neutral in the 2024 presidential nomination race. That is likely to be the case for state Republican parties across the country, but it is not a sure thing. That, too, tells one about the state of the Republican race and Trump's support in it. 

No, DeSantis is not in the race yet, but he continues to do the things that (prospective) presidential candidates do. This time it is a trip to New Hampshire for a big state party fundraising event.

Governor Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) continues to do things outside of the commonwealth. And every time he does, it draws presidential chatter. So it was with the latest news that Youngkin will head to Texas in April to meet with big money Republican donors. Youngkin, like all the other candidates or potential candidates not named Trump or DeSantis, is in the difficult position of having to assess his chances in a field where there is seemingly little oxygen. Youngkin can lay claim to being a Republican governor in a blue state, which is unique among the other possible aspirants. But like everyone else he has to hope for a DeSantis flop, a Trump implosion or for the Trump and DeSantis to pummel each other into oblivion such that the door is opened for someone else. And maybe one or some combination of those things happen. But the more immediate concern for Youngkin may be that he has to show those donors in Texas that he has that "fire in the belly," a marker he did not necessarily surpass with potential donors in New York recently.

Vice President Kamala Harris going to Iowa causes a raise of the eyebrow until one remembers that the Hawkeye state will not be the first state in the Democratic presidential nomination process in 2024.

On this date... 1980, Senator Bob Dole withdrew, winless, from the Republican presidential nomination race. 1988, Vice President Bush (R) and Senator Paul Simon (D) won the Illinois presidential primary. Simon kept all three of the big winners from Super Tuesday the week before at bay in his home state. 2004, Rev. Al Sharpton dropped out of the Democratic presidential nomination race. 2016, Senator Marco Rubio (R) suspended his campaign after a lackluster showing in primaries, including his home state of Florida, at the opening of the winner-take-all window on the Republican nomination calendar.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Invisible Primary: Visible -- Doing the things that prospective candidates do

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

One of FHQ's typical bits of invisible primary advice is to look at actions not words when trying to divine what it is that candidates or prospective candidates are up to in the early going. Only, in 2023 on the Democratic side, there is something of an exception to that rule. President Biden is doing all of the things that a prospective candidate for reelection does. While he has drawn a challenger, all of the arguably most viable alternatives are not readying for long and divisive bids. In fact, many of them have already signed on to advise the president in his quest for reelection. Those around the president are suggesting he is running and the president has hinted at it himself. The only thing he has not done is say, "I'm running."

But that has not stopped a steady stream of stories in recent days from reporting on planning going on in the event that he does not throw his hat in the ring or speculation about the field of candidates that could line up to seek the nomination in his stead. All of this, of course, belies the reality presented above.  And races involving the incumbent are usually boring. The same things happened four years ago on the Republican side. But then it was stories about Weld, Sanford and Walsh, how Trump was going to play the delegate game and Republican state parties opting out of contests. It is the same thus far in 2023. But replace those Republican stories from four years ago with stories about Biden's (similarly weak) challengers and the primary calendar shake up (which is also being spun as an incumbent defense). 

There may be some there there in the Democratic presidential nomination process in 2024, but it is a relatively small there. Actions, not words.

In the travel primary, T-minus one day until DeSantis descends on Iowa for the first time. And there is a Las Vegas stop in early primary (caucus?) state, Nevada, on Saturday as well.

The contests in four states conflict with Passover next year. [Yep.] One of those states, Maryland is on top of it: 
The Maryland House speaker and Senate president both came out in favor of changing the date for next year’s primary. A spokesperson for Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, a Democrat, told JI on Tuesday that he “supports moving next year’s primary Election Day so it does not fall on Passover.”

But the Jewish Insider goes on...
In Pennsylvania, no such effort is yet underway. 
[Uh, well...]

Actually, there is an effort to move the Pennsylvania presidential primary. Two of them, in fact. Passover may not be the impetus for that change, but there is a change in the works. Oh, but JI goes on...
There is currently another push in Pennsylvania to change the Democratic presidential primary date for 2024. Democratic legislators introduced a bill to move the Democratic presidential primary next year a month earlier, to March 19, to give Pennsylvania a bigger say in the party’s nominating contest. If it were implemented, that bill would not affect the Republican primary — still set for April 23 — or other statewide primaries set to take place on that date.
That is not how this works. States may move a consolidated primary up. [And that is what is happening in the two bills proposed in Pennsylvania.] They may split a presidential primary off from the rest in order to schedule it earlier. But rarely does a state split up a consolidated primary and then schedule two separate presidential primary elections. That is just too expensive for most states. South Carolina stands out as the only state with two separate, state-run presidential primaries; one for each party. But the Palmetto state is the exception to the rule.

On this date... 1976, Jimmy Carter bested George Wallace in the Florida presidential primary, seen as a southern elimination contest after Carter's victories earlier on the calendar. Wallace had won the primary in the Sunshine state in 1972. 1980, John Connally (R-TX) pulled out of the Republican nomination race, raising and spending a lot of money along the way to win one delegate. 1992, Tom Harkin (D-IA) withdrew from the Democratic nomination race following wins in the Iowa, Idaho and Minnesota caucuses. 2000, it was the day of the South Carolina Democratic firehouse primary. It was the last cycle that South Carolina Democrats held a contest after Super Tuesday. It was also the day that both Senator Bill Bradley (D-NJ) and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) gave up bids for their respective nominations after big Super Tuesday losses. 2004, it was (again) the day of the Florida presidential primary. The contest in the Sunshine state had not moved from that second Tuesday in March position on which it had been conducted since the beginning of the post-reform era. Florida, infamously, was not in that same position in 2008.