Showing posts with label unified control. Show all posts
Showing posts with label unified control. Show all posts

Monday, January 16, 2023

Post-2022 Partisan Control of State Government and 2024 Presidential Primary Movement

What if anything do the 2022 midterm results mean for primary movement on the 2024 presidential primary calendar

Part of that question was actually answered back in August when the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee (DNCRBC) finalized all of the delegate selection rules for the 2024 cycle except one section. That exception? The pre-window calendar rules and exemptions. And why did the panel wait? They pushed pause on finalizing the early calendar because the midterms were going to be determinative in just how ambitious Democrats could be in reworking the calendar. A Republican surge would have meant something more like the status quo would have prevailed while a Democratic hold or gains would have given the DNCRBC a bit more latitude in changing things. 

The results ended up closer to the latter and Democrats swung big in booting Iowa and (effectively) New Hampshire from the pre-window in the adopted calendar proposal for 2024. 

That has largely been the story thus far for 2024 primary movement, prospective or otherwise. And that is unusual. It is atypical for a party currently occupying the White House to tinker with its delegate selection rules, especially when the incumbent president is signaling a run for reelection. Very simply, incumbent presidents of the post-reform era have made a habit of demonstrating that they like the rules that got them to the nomination in the first place and have tended to carry them over for the most part to their reelection cycle. 

That has not been the case with the Biden administration of the DNCRBC following the 2022 midterms. Instead of the focus being on Republican-controlled states angling to better position their primaries and caucuses for a competitive nomination cycle, the spotlight has been on two states tabbed to be a part of the new Democratic pre-window lineup. Two states where Democrats did not gain sufficient state legislative or gubernatorial seats to change the tide. That is, the talk has been about Georgia and New Hampshire not moving because Republicans in both state governments stand in the way. 

But the DNC calendar rules are not finalized yet and will not be until the February winter meeting at the earliest. Georgia and New Hampshire will continue to be stories in the process, but may force Democrats to look elsewhere to states that may be better able to implement changes. Given the national party's preference for state-run contests, any changes to move additional states' contests around will occur in state legislatures across the country. 

The other side of this, of course, is that Republicans did not flip control of any state legislative chambers in 2022. And the only gubernatorial seat the GOP gained was in Nevada, where Democrats retained control of the legislature (and the primary is already early on the calendar). As a component of possible primary movement, the lack of a typical out-party surge in the midterms did not portend pronounced primary movement. 

Another significant component is that Republicans are still dealing with the fallout of the primary movement from the 2012 cycle. As a quick primer on 2012, one has to go back to the 2004 cycle when Democrats aligned their calendar rules with those of the Republicans. Both parties allowed February contests for the first time then. While that set off some movement toward the new early, most states did not catch on to the rules change and act until the 2008 cycle. But that rush to the front of the queue was marked not just by states trying to shift to the earliest date allowed by the two major parties -- the first Tuesday in February -- but by a handful risking penalties to go beyond that point, threatening the positions of the earliest states exempted from national party rules. That pushed Iowa and New Hampshire to the brink of conducting contests in 2007, something that decision makers in neither national party seemed to prefer. 

And that influenced the calendar rules for 2012. The parties informally brokered a later start to primary season, nixing February as the earliest point during which non-exempt states could hold contests. Both parties nudged that starting time back to the first Tuesday in March for the 2012 cycle. But that left nearly 20 states in the lurch. All had February or early contests on the books. And all 20 needed to change state laws in order to come back into compliance with the new national party rules.

That change set off a flurry of activity on the state level in 2011. But there was a pattern to it. With an active Republican presidential nomination race on the horizon, the Republican-controlled states among that 20 tended to move back but less so. They mostly ended up in March. Democratic-controlled states, on the other hand, pushed even further back on the calendar with less at stake. 

And that is the legacy of 2012. The March start point for most states is still there in the national party rules and so are most of the Republican states. Some of the Democratic ones have even come back. That is not to say that there are not Republican-controlled states later in the calendar. There are. But there just is not a lot of movement that can happen at this point. Not movement forward anyway. 

In the end, there will be primary movement for 2024. Some has already happened prior to 2023. But the point here is to hone in on just how much movement can happen. Some can, but this is neither 2008 nor 2012. The changes on the Democratic side will likely push at least Iowa and New Hampshire into January and bring Michigan at a minimum into the pre-window. Other than that, however, there may be some incremental changes to comply with the new national Republican rules that will affect the end of the calendar. Unified Republican control in Montana and South Dakota ought to make those changes easier. 

The 2022 midterm elections saw relative stability across the board, and the lack of change there will affect how much the calendar is able to change in 2023. So far the outlook suggests limited tweaks. But it is still early.

Monday, January 14, 2019

#InvisiblePrimary: Visible -- The 2018 Elections and The 2020 Presidential Primary Calendar

Thoughts on the invisible primary and links to the movements during the day that was...

As presidential nomination cycles have come and gone over the years, the stories change in terms of how states maneuver within that system and why. That is not to suggest that the collision of states and the decision-making conditions they confront is complete chaos every four years. Rather, the terrain is constantly shifting. That is true for a lot of electoral decisions that state legislatures make, and that includes how states position their delegate selection events -- primaries and caucuses -- on the quadrennial presidential primary calendar.

Eight years ago, nearly half the states in the country had newly non-compliant primary dates leftover from a 2008 cycle that saw a slew of states push into February and cluster primarily at the beginning of the month. When the national parties informally coordinated a later start to primary season for 2012, all those February states from 2008 had to make changes to state law.

And the result was at least somewhat predictable. State governments that were under unified Republican control shifted back their dates much less than did the handful of states that were controlled by Democrats after the 2010 midterm elections. Whereas Democratic-controlled states pushed back to traditional positions (California and New Jersey back to June) or positions later on the calendar (the northeastern/mid-Atlantic regional primary in late April), most Republican-controlled states ended up somewhere in March.

At least part of the motivation, then, was partisan. Decision makers in Republican state governments were preparing for an active nomination race and attempted to schedule their primaries for advantageous -- for voters and for drawing candidate attention -- spots on the calendar. Democratic decision makers had no such similar calculus. With no real competition for the Democratic nomination, decision makers in Democratic-controlled states could afford to shift back further in 2012 to take advantage of a new series of delegate bonuses the DNC built into their delegate selection rules for that cycle.

However, when the calendar flipped over four more times, the decision-making matrix at the state level was different for 2016. Both parties had varying levels of competitive races looming and again, acted in at least somewhat predictable ways. Republican-controlled states, already largely in early positions, saw minimal movement.

But Democratic side of the ledger was different. First even in 2014, before the 2015-16 legislatures had been elected, Democrats had a clear frontrunner for 2016 in Hillary Clinton. Second, after the 2014 midterms, there were only a handful of states with unified Democratic control. That is a recipe for little movement, and, in fact, none of those seven Democratic states made any changes for the 2016 cycle.

So as the process heads into 2019, what does the balance of power look like in states across the country for 2020?

For starters, the number of Republican-controlled states is similar to 2015. While there were 23 states with unified Republican control in 2015, there are 22 in 2019. However, there are more Democratic-controlled states now than four years ago and the gains came not from Republican states, but from those with control divided in some way, whether inter-branch or intra-branch.

Not only has the map of partisan control changed, but so too have the conditions under which these decisions are made. Like 2011 or 2015 for Republicans, Democratic decision makers in 2019 seemingly have a wide open and competitive nomination race on the horizon. Those actors, like Republicans in the recent past, have incentives to potentially shift around the dates on which their presidential primaries are held.

That incentive was great enough that California moved from June to March for 2020 back in 2017, an atypical time in the cycle to make such a move.

And that incentive could be enough to motivate the cluster of Democratic-controlled states in the northeast to coordinate an earlier cluster of contests; the inverse of 2011. There is already some evidence that a western regional primary could form in a position just a week after Super Tuesday.

On the Republican side the motivation is different, and not exactly like what Democrats faced in 2011. Yes, defending the president is chief among the concerns of Republicans like the Democrats of eight years ago. However, the defense is potentially different. Democrats, with no real threat of a challenge to President Obama, made moves potentially with the general election in mind; to attempt to influence who emerged as Obama's opponent.

Republican legislators may act, but with the nomination phase in mind; to ward off a challenge to the president. This may happen, as was the case eight years ago on the Democratic side, at the behest of national Republican actors, but it will take place at the state level.

Does that mean Republican-controlled states unilaterally pull back and set later dates? That would be an historical anomaly. States have not typically done that except in situations where it has meant consolidating separated primaries in order to reduce costs; save a line on the state budget. But in more polarized times, both nationally and increasingly in state legislatures, the rules may be different.

It is early in the 2019 state legislative sessions, but it is there that these calendar decisions will be made, and begin to provide a picture of what the 2020 presidential primary calendar will eventually look like.

Elsewhere in the invisible primary...

1. Gillibrand end last week with a flurry of activity, whether it was lining up potential campaign headquarters, planning trips to Iowa, staffing up, or privately signaling her intentions.

2. She's not the only one headed to Iowa. Brown is going to visit the Hawkeye state too.

3. Swalwell is taking a late January trip to New Hampshire.

4. Inslee is taking flak back home from Republicans and from some New Hampshire Democrats.

5. In West Virginia, announced Democratic presidential candidate, Richard Ojeda, is resigning his state Senate seat to run for president.

6. Meanwhile, Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is in.

7. So is Julian Castro.

8. And DeBlasio isn't closing any 2020 doors, but, boy, is the clock ticking and the alarm may have already sounded for statements about door-closing/considerations being either serious or taken seriously.

9. Warren continues to add staff. This time some New Hampshire staff additions were announced while Warren was visiting the Granite state.

10. If Biden's walking, he's running [for 2020].

Has FHQ missed something you feel should be included? Drop us a line or a comment and we'll make room for it.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Post-2014 State Government Partisan Control and 2016 Presidential Primary Movement

Four years ago, the story coming out of the 2010 midterm elections was what newly Republican-controlled state governments would do in power. The tale from the 2014 postmortems has been much the same. Indeed, Republicans now control both chambers of state legislatures and gubernatorial seats in 23 states (see map below).1 That can and will have a significant impact on policy-making in states covering most of the regions of the country.

It could also influence the way in which the 2016 presidential primary calendar develops and hardens throughout 2015.

Whether a state government is unified or divided along partisan lines is a factor in the calculus that state governmental actors go through when making the decision to shift the date of the state's presidential primary.2 Again, Republicans have stretched their advantage in state government over the last four years. Yet, conditions are different in 2011 than they are in 2015. State governmental control may play a role in any subsequent primary movement, but it plays a smaller role than other factors.

That is consistent with what FHQ has found for the 1976-2008 period. Throughout that span structural, state-level factors played a much larger role in the determination to shift the date of a primary. For instance, a state such as Arkansas in 2015 is forced to decide between moving the presidential primary together with the primaries for state and local offices or creating a separate presidential primary election that can be moved more easily but incurs the cost of funding that new, separate election. That is a sterner test than in a state like Florida where the presidential primary was separate at the outset of the post-reform era. The costs of moving are greater in Arkansas than in Florida.

Incumbency in the White House also matters in this calculus. This may differ in the currently more polarized era, but in the 1976-2008 period, the floodgates have tended to open up in terms of primary movement in years in which both parties have competitive presidential nomination races. In other words, if there is no incumbent seeking reelection, both parties members in state government are potentially more motivated to help their party -- whether candidates, their state or the partisan voters in the state -- to gain some advantage. Actors on the state governmental level are hypothetically more cautious when an incumbent is running for reelection. Partisan conflicts are more likely to occur when one party is attempting to reelect a president while the other is trying to determine which candidate would be best suited to unseating that incumbent. The I'll scratch your back if you'll scratch mine mindset gives way to its every man for himself.

The interesting thing is that the 2012 and 2016 cycles may break from that pattern to some extent. 2012 saw a significant amount of primary movement for a year in which an incumbent was seeking reelection. By comparison, 2016 is off to a much slower start (despite both parties having open nomination contests). The reason is the semi-coordinated rules changes between 2008 and 2012. Both the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee allowed states to hold delegate selection events in February for the 2008 cycle.3 That resulted in a primary calendar in 2008 that began on the heels of New Years, stretching the calendar and in some respects the process out. Neither wanted repeat of that in 2012. The solution was an informal agreement to shift the start point back to February with the majority of states -- those other than the four carve-out states -- being restricted to March or later dates.

That change put 18 primary states in the national parties' crosshairs in January 2011. 18 states had laws calling for February (or earlier) presidential primaries. That significantly reshaped the primary movement calculus in those states. Those states had to move in order to comply with the new rules and avoid the penalties associated with violating them.

As the map below demonstrates, that same pressure from the national parties will not exist in 2015 as the 2016 primary calendar is being finalized in state capitals across the country. There are only three states -- Michigan, New York and North Carolina -- that are officially slated to hold non-compliant presidential primaries in 2016. Michigan has already signaled that a move to March is likely there. And New York is only back in February because the 2011 primary date change was passed with a sunset provision. That leaves only North Carolina.

...and other states that might want to go rogue, breaking the national parties' rules on timing.

But that brings us back full circle to the unified control factor.

One could hypothesize that with so many Republican-controlled states and a significant increase in the Republican penalty associated with holding a pre-March primary (or caucus) that the stars have potentially aligned to produce an orderly primary calendar. Perhaps put more precisely, the parties may have devised the best way of combatting such frontloading activity than has been the case in the past.

There are 23 Republican-controlled states that the more severe RNC penalty may help keep in line. Past scofflaws (and Republican-controlled states) -- Arizona, Florida and Michigan -- have either disarmed or look to be in the process of disarming. However, attempts at going rogue during the 2016 cycle have thus far occurred in Republican-controlled states (Arizona, North Carolina and Utah). The fact that Arizona is on both lists says something about intra-party divisions. That is not something confined to just Arizona either. North Carolina has seen a number of issues put its Republican-controlled Senate at odds with its Republican-controlled House. On the surface, then, it may look as if the combination of more severe RNC penalties and an expansion of Republican-controlled states would help reign in any potential 2016 rogues. But it is more complicated than that.

If we really want to see the potential impact of partisan control of state governments on this process, the best test may not in Republican states where there is a willingness to break the rules. Rather, the better test may be in Republican-controlled states and the ease with which they form regional and subregional primaries.

1 That is a slight increase over the 20 state governments the Republican Party controlled following the 2010 elections.

2 To see a similar examination of these factor from 2011 see here and here.

3 That was not new in 2008. Both parties allowed February contests in 2004, but only the Democratic Party had a nomination race that cycle.

Recent Posts:
If Primary Season Began Today: A Note on the 2016 Presidential Primary Calendar

RNC memo gives Iowa Straw Poll a green light

Arizona Bill Introduced to Again Attempt to Schedule Presidential Primary on Iowa Caucuses Date

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

California GOP, Budget and the 2012 Presidential Primary

Much is being made of the apparent discontent within the California Republican Party over proposed and Democratic-backed legislation to move the Golden state's presidential primary back to June. It started with talk coming out of the Republican convention in the state the weekend before last and has continued in the time since. For the record FHQ is not particularly swayed by either side of the argument over the timing of the presidential primary -- either political or budgetary -- in California next year.

Democrats have the luxury of not only having unified control over the state government, but because of that can also afford to save money combining the presidential primary with the primaries for state and local offices already scheduled for the first Tuesday in June. Republicans in the state are just out of luck. It doesn't seem entirely political, but the move to coordinate the two sets of primaries and save money in the process seems more like a means to an end. Yet, former California GOP chairman, Rob Nehring, is absolutely right that if the national Democrats had a contested nomination race in 2012, California Democrats would not be making this move to June. Instead, they would presumably be doing what California Republicans and the national parties want them to do: moving the primary back into compliance with a first Tuesday in March separate presidential primary. And would assuming Democratic control of the state and a competitive nomination race in 2016 make some effort to put California's primary back into the window of decisiveness.

What I think is being lost in all of this discussion is that we do and don't have an official Republican response to the Assembly bill (AB 80) that proposes the change to the presidential primary date. Sure, state Republicans have made their demands -- among them a March presidential primary -- but we have yet to see that plan manifest itself in the form of legislation. Well, we have, but most just don't know it yet. Senate Minority Leader Robert Dutton (R-31st, Rancho Cucamonga) just beat the deadline to introduce legislation last month when he introduced SB 782 which makes a non-substantial change to the portion of the California statutes dealing with the timing of the presidential primary. The removal of the comma will eventually be augmented by a change in committee; likely a rescheduling of the presidential primary from February to March.

Of course, it may seem more pragmatic to suggest that that new version would call for not only a March presidential primary, but concurrent primaries for state and local offices then as well. Now, it should be noted that California moved back before it moved forward in 2008. The assembly moved the primaries -- all of them -- from the first Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in June for 2008 back in 2004 and then created the separate, February presidential primary in 2007 when a host of other states were shifting up to February primary dates. Part of the initial move back to June was triggered by what was deemed the "utter failure" of the March primary. Low turnout in the midterm election years and an overly long general election campaign were cited as problematic. With those issues out in the open, though, concurrent primaries in March seems like the compromise position on all of this. Democrats get the budgetary savings they want and Republicans get the date they want for the presidential primary and remove the necessity of inevitably moving the date again in 2016. But what about the turnout problem and lengthy and costly general election campaigns in midterm years? Why not keep the midterm primaries in June in midterm election years and the March primary in presidential election years? Other states do this. Pennsylvania, for example, hold concurrent primaries in presidential election years in April, but has May primaries in midterm years.

That would be the pragmatic, compromise approach in California, but we'll have to see what Republicans do with SB 782 first. If Republicans push this plan and Democrats quash it, then Nehring would have a point about the move to June being political.