Thursday, December 8, 2022

New Ways to Get FHQ

Things are ramping up for the 2024 presidential election cycle (whether any of us are ready for it or not). 

That is certainly also true in FHQ's neck of the woods. The DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee's decision late last week to continue the process of altering the pre-window states on the Democratic calendar has set off a flurry of activity here and elsewhere. 

Long ago, I set up an email subscription/newletter service through Feedburner that many of you have taken advantage of over the years. And many of you may have subsequently probably forgotten you even did that it was so long ago. Feedburner, of course, has since died (and did so during a dormant period around here). As such, I have migrated the subscription service from Feedburner over to, and email delivery of FHQ content will begin again.

If you are new to FHQ and are interested in signing up for the newsletter service, then simply enter your email address in the box in the righthand column (the one with the big black Subscribe button). [If you are on the mobile page you will have to toggle over the web version.]

Finally, with all the recent movement at Twitter, I, like many others, have explored alternatives as a backup of sorts. I have been posting for a few weeks now at both Mastodon ( and Post (@fhq_). Please follow FHQ in those spaces if you are so inclined. 

Links to all of these and more are always also provided at the conclusion of each post.

As always, thanks so much for reading and following along.


Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Michigan Presidential Primary Bill Stuck in End-of-Session Rush

The countdown is on for SB 1207, the current legislation that would shift the Michigan presidential primary up to the second Tuesday in February.

But the bill may become a casualty of the legislative hustle and bustle as the 2021-22 legislation approaches its adjournment. Michigan Radio/WVPE reports that the bill may take a backseat to other priorities in the state House. Rep. Ann Bollin (R-42nd, Brighton), who chairs the House Elections and Ethics Committee, indicated that she would be more inclined to move on legislation focused on moving the August primary for other offices to June. 
“The most important date that the local clerks want changed is to move the August primary to June. That’s what I hear most about and that’s what their greatest concern is, is that we should be looking at an election that can really make a difference,” Bollin said.
But Bollin struck a positive tone on the possibility of a deal to pass the presidential primary bill in exchange for passage of the August-to-June House bill in the Senate. 

Granted, being low on the priority list and the session nearing a close are not the only roadblocks facing SB 1207. And that is doubly true now that the Democratic National Committee has taken the first step toward adding Michigan to the group of early states at the front of the 2024 presidential primary calendar. The DNC positioning of the contest for the fourth Tuesday in February (February 27, 2024) conflicts with the second Tuesday in February (February 13, 2024) date for the primary called for in the Republican-sponsored legislation in Michigan. Despite the fact the the Republican majority state Senate got all voting Democrats to side with them on SB 1207, the Republican majority in the House may not be able to similarly count on Democratic support without a change to align the date in the legislation with the DNC calendar outline.1 

And even if there is a deal across chambers to pass both primary bills without any changes, Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) may veto it to protect Michigan's newly won position in the Democratic process, opting to wait on Democratic control in the 2023-24 legislature. 

Yet, SB 1207 could still be amended to reflect the DNC date for the Michigan primary at the end of February and work its way through the legislative process. But the fact remains that at this point, it is not clear whether this bill will be the actual vehicle for changing the presidential primary date in Michigan or whether that task will be punted to Democratic legislators in the majority early next year. 

Given the hoops the Michigan Democratic Party has to jump through for the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee, an amended SB 1207 could be preferable. Under the new guidelines from the DNC, the Michigan Democratic Party has to secure signed letters from the governor, the incoming state House majority leader and the incoming state Senate majority -- all Democrats -- pledging to pass legislation to enable a February 27 primary date. The party has to hand those letters off to the co-chairs of the DNCRBC by January 5, 2023. All such legislative changes are to be finalized by February 1, 2023.

That is a quick turnaround for new legislation to have been passed and signed into law, especially when the new Democratic majority will be interested in moving other items on its agenda. 

None of this is to suggest that this will not get done. It will. Michigan will have a February 27 Democratic presidential primary. The uncertainty that exists now surrounds how it all happens in the legislature: now or next year.

1 Republicans also have a compliance problem with the Republican National Committee rules if the primary is scheduled for any time in February. The Michigan Republican Party may support the primary move in SB 1207, but any intervention from the national party level may additionally slow things down, forcing state Republicans to focus on finding a way to split the presidential nomination process in the Great Lakes state into two partisan primaries.


Friday, December 2, 2022

DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee Adopts Biden Calendar Proposal

The DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee (DNCRBC) on Friday voted in favor of rules and regulations granting waivers to five states to conduct primaries the pre-window period of the 2024 presidential primary calendar. Every member of the panel supported the proposal offered by President Biden with the exception of Scott Brennan (Iowa) and Joanne Dowdell (New Hampshire).

The calendar outline for the pre-window agreed to looks like this:
Saturday, February 3: South Carolina primary
Tuesday, February 6: Nevada primary, New Hampshire primary
Tuesday, February 13: Georgia primary
Tuesday, February 27: Michigan primary
Originally, as came out in the meeting, the plan called for the South Carolina primary to fall on February 6 which would have knocked the Nevada/New Hampshire pair of contests and the Georgia primary back a week each from their positions in the adopted outline above. Artie Blanco, a DNCRBC member from Nevada, raised the issue of the primary in the Silver state already being scheduled for the February 6, and wondered aloud whether South Carolina could be shifted to the Saturday prior. This was something that Carol Fowler, the DNCRBC member from South Carolina, not only did not object to, but she additionally pointed out that the Democratic primary in the Palmetto state has traditionally been conducted on a Saturday anyway. 

As noted in yesterday's post, there were already going to be state-level obstacles to implementing this plan in 2023. 
  • South Carolina is maximally maneuverable. The state party merely has to indicate to state elections officials when they plan to hold the primary and the state government funds and implements the primary election from there. There is no problem meeting that goal.
  • Nevada, as mentioned, is already in position by virtue of legislation passed and signed into law in 2021. Had the original plan been passed, it would have meant that the now-divided government in the Silver state would have to pass new legislation to change the date of the primary. With a newly elected Republican governor, change was unlikely. No compromise could likely be reached between Democratic legislators attempting to follow DNC rules and a Republican governor who likely would have wanted a date even later than the February 13 date Nevada was slotted into in the initial proposal from the president. That stalemate would have led back to the status quo, something the DNCRBC acknowledged by adopting the amended outline.
  • The New Hampshire secretary of state selects the date of the presidential primary in the Granite state, and under law that is required to be at least seven days before any other similar contest. Regardless of partisan alignment, the secretary is required to follow that guidance. But the current secretary is a Republican and inclined to not only keep the New Hampshire primary first, but to keep it first as set forth in national Republican rules for the 2024 cycle. In other words, New Hampshire Democrats' hands are mostly tied on this, stuck between a secretary of state likely to follow state law and a national party threatening sanction if the state party fails to meet new guidelines that would have them break with tradition. 
  • Similarly, the Georgia secretary of state schedules the date of the presidential primary in the Peach state. And although Secretary Brad Raffensperger (R) does not face the same requirement to be first as in New Hampshire, he is, nonetheless a Republican who would be less than interested in shifting the primary up to a point on the calendar that would draw penalties from the Republican National Committee. And the proposed February 13 date conflicts with those rules. 
  • Michigan, like South Carolina, is more maneuverable under the new DNC guidance than Democrats in the state would have been without the newly won majorities in both chambers of the Michigan legislature. Holding unified government means that Democrats in control can more easily pass legislation and take advantage of the waiver offered by the national party. 
However, the DNCRBC tacked on an additional set of state-specific contingencies for each of the five states above to even qualify for the waivers in question. And the window for action on those conditions is short. All five states would have to share their base voter file with bona fide Democratic candidates for president at an expense of no more than $10,000. All five states have to meet their specific requirements or risk forfeiting the waivers now preliminarily granted. That forfeiture would mean that any state unable to comply would be required to conduct a contest in the designated window on the calendar (between the first Tuesday in March and the second Tuesday in June). The contingencies diverge from there...
  • All South Carolina Democrats have to do is have the state party chair submit a letter to the DNCRBC pledging that the party will call on the state of South Carolina to conduct a primary on February 3 regardless of what other states do. That action must be taken by January 5, 2023.
  • Nevada has basically already met its main condition. The primary is already scheduled for the date the DNCRBC settled on. But Nevada Democrats must certify that any statutory changes have been made -- none are necessary -- to align the primary law with DNC rules by January 5, 2023.
  • To reiterate, New Hampshire Democrats are stuck, and the additional conditions they must meet to successfully gain a pre-window waiver from the DNCRBC are collectively a tall order. The state party has to submit to the committee by January 5, 2023 letters from the New Hampshire governor, the New Hampshire state Senate majority leader and the New Hampshire state House majority leader -- all Republicans -- pledging to make all necessary statutory changes to 1) cement the February 6 primary date and 2) implement no excuse early voting. For a variety of reasons, none of those letters from Granite state Republican leaders is likely to be forthcoming by January 5 of next year or any time ever. And that makes the next condition even more unpalatable to New Hampshire Democrats. The new DNC regulations require that all those changes be made -- as in finalized -- by February 1, 2023. That is a recipe for New Hampshire Democrats losing their waiver.
  • Georgia is in a similar boat. Again, the secretary of state in the Peach state sets the primary date, and Georgia Democrats must submit a letter from Secretary Raffensperger to the DNCRBC by January 5, 2023 in which he pledges to schedule the contest for February 13. Since such a move would negatively impact the Republican primary and Republicans in the state, that letter is unlikely to be acquired by Georgia Democrats to pass on to the DNCRBC. And that is likely to end the waiver chances there, pushing Georgia back to Super Tuesday (March 5) or later. [NOTE: There is no similar push by the DNC to have Georgia make statutory changes as was the case in New Hampshire.]
  • Michigan appears poised to move its primary date. The only real question is whether that happens before the current Republican-controlled legislative session adjourns or after new Democratic-controlled session begins in early January. Regardless, similar letters from the Michigan governor, state Senate majority leader and state House majority leader -- all Democrats -- must be submitted to the DNCRBC by January 5, 2023 and action completed by February 1, 2023. Like South Carolina and Nevada, Michigan Democrats being able to jump through the hoops set before them by the DNCRBC seems like a formality. 
But what about Georgia, Iowa and New Hampshire?

Well, the addition of Georgia may have been a polite nod to a state that was both instrumental in the president's electoral college victory in 2020 and aligned well (as a possible fifth early state) with the criteria the DNCRBC had set forth in its process to award waivers for the 2024 pre-window. While the Georgia code setting the parameters of the presidential primary scheduling describes a singular primary election, it also indicates that a primary election will be held for each party. That seemingly provides some wiggle room to a willing secretary of state, but the custom in Georgia has never been to conduct separate presidential primaries; one for each party. The state budget also does not allocate funds for a second/separate presidential primary election. 

Iowa and New Hampshire are different. 

Both have obviously long held privileged positions in the presidential nomination processes of both parties. And both also have state laws protecting those positions (although there are no explicit penalties for violations in either). Both still have them on the Republican side for 2024 and only Iowa Democrats have had their waiver directly denied by the DNCRBC. New Hampshire Democrats appear to have been granted a reprieve but only a short one given that the marching orders handed down from the DNC are an indirect denial of a 2024 waiver. 

Theoretically, the DNC has more leverage over a state party like Iowa's than over the New Hampshire Democratic Party working -- or trying to work -- through an unaffiliated (and uninterested) secretary of state there. And typically the DNCRBC has been more lenient on states and state parties that try their best to comply with any new set of regulations handed down by the national party setting the parameters around the next nomination cycle. 

In other words, if Iowa Democrats are defiant and openly flaunt the new rules to hold a contest alongside Republican caucuses that are likely to be scheduled for some time in January 2024, the the DNCRBC is likely to drop the hammer on them. And in this case, the hammer means going beyond the 50 percent delegation penalty called for in the rules (which is discretion the DNCRBC has). It was hinted at during the DNCRBC meeting in a passing comment on rogue states that the committee may be inclined to take all of violating state's delegates. 

There are other candidate-specific penalties as well, but the effectiveness of those deterrents hinge on there actually being an active and competitive nomination race; something that would not be on the table if President Biden opts to run for renomination. [Yes, that can change, but from all indications, the president is running and most of the big names that are thought to be possible challengers have deferred to him.] With no candidates, there is nothing for states lure by breaking the rules to go early (other than tradition).

Is the prospect of no delegates enough to keep Iowa Democrats from jumping back into the pre-window? Probably not if those penalties are only in place during primary season. However, the DNC and the convention have the ability to not recognize a delegation from a state that has run a delegate selection process that runs afoul of DNC rules. If Biden is the nominee, then that may be enough to keep Iowa Democrats in line. But it is also an eventuality that the DNC would have to signal early and often was a very possible end point for a rogue state. Carrying through on that is equivalent to the DNC admitting Iowa is a red state and completely writing it off in the general election.

These same things affect New Hampshire as well, but again, Democrats in the Granite state are stuck in a different dilemma. They could completely agree with the DNCRBC changes and still not be able to do anything about it with either Republicans in control of state government or the secretary of state. Of course, so far New Hampshire Democrats have struck a stridently defiant tone in response to the proposed calendar changes, vowing to still go first. 

In the past it may have enough for New Hampshire Democrats to try their best to comply and be given the benefit of the doubt by the DNCRBC (as FHQ noted in the close of this post). But the contingencies the DNCRBC adopted made it more difficult for Democrats in the Granite state to not only "try their best" but to comply at all. The conditions added insult to injury, especially considering that it looked like New Hampshire stood a pretty good shot of retaining its position given all the chatter leading up the DNCRBC meeting, but before the Biden team released its proposal the day before the panel convened. 

New Hampshire Democrats and the DNC, then, may be in much the same position as Democrats in the Hawkeye state are with the national party: destined for a clash. Of course, while Iowa may be a red state, New Hampshire remains purple. And even if just a sliver of the New Hampshire electorate is motivated by the state being stripped of its position in the nominating process -- whether by costing Democrats all of their delegates during primary season or not seating a Democratic slate from the state at the convention -- it would not take that much to flip the state to Republicans in a presidential contest. Around 30,000 votes would have accomplished that in 2020. That is a real potential cost to national Democrats. 

The DNC may be willing to send that sort of message to Iowa, but New Hampshire is a different matter. New Hampshire Democrats have leverage that Iowa Democrats do not. But if the DNC is serious about this -- if the president is serious about making these calendar changes a part of his legacy -- then that would be the potential price the national party has to pay. 

Again, however, the national party would not only have to adopt these rules -- the DNC will at their meeting early next year -- but would have to publicly and often discuss the possible ramifications of going rogue. 

...and follow through on them


Thursday, December 1, 2022

Biden Calls for Calendar Shake Up Ahead of Rules and Bylaws Committee Meeting

President Biden released a letter to the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee (see below) on the eve of the panel's meeting to consider and finalize the pre-window lineup of states on the 2024 presidential primary calendar

The committee and the full DNC had previously adopted all other rules for the 2024 cycle and had punted on making any decisions on the calendar until after the 2022 midterm elections. It had also awaited input from the White House; input the DNCRBC now has. 

Much of the president's guidance mirrors principles the committee has already been working under: diversifying -- geography, race/ethnicity and economic -- the early states to better match the Democratic Party electorate, eliminating caucuses, and representing urban, suburban and rural interests. The president also indicated a preference for the early states to be reexamined every cycle. 

Subsequent reporting was more specific about not only the states the Biden team highlighted to be granted waivers by the DNCRBC to appear in the pre-window, but also in what order they are to go. 
South Carolina
Nevada/New Hampshire
FHQ had some quick reactions here:
Some have already argued that this is a move intended to ward off a serious primary challenge. But the president and his team have already seemingly done a good job of that. Most would-be candidates on the Democratic bench had already deferred to the president before this move. As such, this proposal seems aimed more at legacy building by the president and those around him; an attempt at dealing with a seemingly intractable "problem" that has been ever-present in nomination politics for the better part of the last half century. 


The Calendar Pieces on the DNCRBC's Board

This post has been updated to account for President Biden's letter giving the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee further direction in finalizing the primary calendar rules. Additions will appear in brackets [ ] below.

As the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee (DNCRBC) convenes to determine the last piece of the puzzle that is the party's delegate selection rules for the 2024 cycle, it is helpful to remember that there are some things that the panel can do and some things that they cannot. 

Ultimately, any set of delegate selection rules -- regardless of party -- is a set of guidelines within which state governments and state parties ideally act. But sometimes the ideal is not met and a party ends up with Florida and Michigan in 2008 or Florida and some non-binding caucuses in 2012. And honestly, those are just the calendar headaches. There are a whole host of challenges that come up within state parties' processes and between state parties and the national parties every cycle that either never see the light of day in the news or are dealt with quietly before or during a convention. 

The national parties are set up to deal with these issues, but part of that, at least within the context of the presidential nomination process, is a function of the rules committees being mindful of what they have the power to affect. That is the position in which the DNCRBC finds itself on the cusp of finalizing its early window calendar for the 2024 presidential nomination cycle. They are, to bring up a line FHQ has borrowed/used often in the past, facing a decision over whether to control or manage the nomination process. 

As John Sununu said in addressing the crowd at the National Association of Secretaries of State conference that snowy day in DC, parties are better served when attempting to manage the process rather than control it. And shuffling the beginning of the primary calendar qualifies as an issue that straddles the line of that distinction. Again, if it was easy to make that change, then some one -- some party -- would have altered the beginning of the calendar in some earlier cycle. And it has not been for lack of trying that the calendar has remained largely unchanged. 

States have tried to jump in line. But New Hampshire and Iowa have proven more nimble in protecting their turf. 

The national parties have examined alternatives, but the Price Commission ended up pushing for additions to the early window rather than supplanting the two traditional lead off states. And Republicans jettisoned both the Delaware plan and the Ohio plan at their 2000 and 2008 conventions, respectively.

Against that backdrop, however, the DNCRBC stands on the cusp of maybe shaking things up as 2022 comes to a close. But this is just another step in the process. The DNC (or the RNC for that matter) can make whatever rules they like, but the states react to and within those rules. Well, the states ideally act within those rules. They have not all always done that in the past and state actors may not all follow suit in 2023 as preparation for 2024 ramps up across the board. 

Here are the pieces the DNCRBC is playing with entering their December meeting.

By all accounts, Iowa is on the way out in this latest round of DNC rules. The Hawkeye state may be written into Rule 12.A (or its 2024 equivalent) but it is very unlikely to be granted a slot 29 days before the first Tuesday in March as it has over the last several cycles. And it may be written out of the rule and thus the early window entirely. But the question may be less about whether Iowa is in those rules in some capacity and more about how Iowa Democrats react to any changes. 

The state party could lean on state law and merely follow state Republicans to whatever position they carve out for themselves at the beginning of the Republican process. But that likely will not be an easy sell with the DNCRBC when the state Democratic Party has to submit, defend and implement a delegate selection plan. That is even more true if Democrats in the state legislature make no moves -- futile though they may ultimately be with majority Republicans in control -- to attempt to move to a presidential primary election. No, that is not going to happen at all, but if Iowa Democrats are to defend themselves against potential sanctions from the DNCRBC, then they will have to take some demonstrable steps toward making a change. Sure, holding a party-run primary -- uh, caucus(-in-name-only) -- with open access is a good start, but not if the caucuses are held against DNC rules at the head of the line. 

In other words, just going with the flow (of tradition, not to mention Iowa Republicans) and thumbing their noses at the DNC is not a winning pitch. It would give the DNCRBC good reason to test out its new sanctions cutting off incentives for candidates to go anywhere near Iowa. Democrats in the state may hold caucuses, but it will be a largely meaningless, candidate-less sort of Ames Straw Poll on the Democratic side. Look, Iowa's results are already discounted in the current Democratic process. Going-first-at-all-costs is not going to make that better. 

The DNCRBC, then, seems to be on pretty firm ground with respect to dealing with most Iowa problems that may arise after the early calendar is set.

[Biden's letter more or less confirmed Iowa's caucuses were headed for the exits in the Democratic process. No, that correspondence did not call Iowa by name, but seemed to be the death knell for caucuses overall on the Democratic side. Reporting alongside the letter revelations confirmed the Biden team had nixed the Hawkeye state from its preferred early state targets.]

Making a strong push to replace Iowa as the first-in-the-nation contest is Nevada. The Silver state, based on the criteria created by the DNCRBC for this process, makes a strong case. There is diversity in the electorate. There is a small-ish media market in a smaller state that lends itself to the sorts of retail politics that both parties continue to value. There is (general election) competitiveness statewide. And an early Nevada contest is, most importantly, entirely feasible. Nevada has been in the early window since the 2008 cycle, has shifted to a primary (over the old caucuses that are out of vogue in the Democratic process) and it is already scheduled for an early date. The first Tuesday in February is just one day behind where Iowa has held its caucuses in the last two cycles. 

But the question is not really whether Nevada Democrats can fill the Iowa void and check all of the DNCRBC's boxes in the process. They can. Instead, the question is what other states do once Nevada is there. That and how the DNCRBC acts in response to those moves. 

It is possible, likely even, that Nevada Democrats leave this upcoming DNCRBC meeting having secured the top spot on the 2024 primary calendar in the rules. But that is a different matter than suggesting that Nevada will be the first contest once 2024 rolls around. 

Let's put a pin in that for a moment. 

[The reporting on the Biden team's thinking has suggested that Nevada and New Hampshire may be paired  (in the rules) if not on the same date on the calendar behind South Carolina, then during the same week. Nevada, of course, will now have a Republican governor who may be more concerned with the date relative to the Republican process. Nevada's current law sets the date of the newly established presidential primary for the first Tuesday in February, a date that is not compliant with RNC rules. Something will have to give if there is to remain just one consolidated presidential primary for both parties. That may mean one side opting into a compliant caucus, a compromise that funds to separate primary elections (one for each party) or a stalemate that preserves the status quo date and set up and leaves the state parties to figure out how to comply with national party rules.]

Yes, legislation to move the Michigan presidential primary to the second Tuesday in February -- a week after the current Nevada primary date -- recently glided through the state Senate. Yes, the midterms were good to the Great Lakes state in this context in that Democrats will now harness all the levers of power behind the setting of the presidential primary date. And yes, Michigan is seen as a suitable, more competitive, more diverse Midwestern state in Iowa. 

But Michigan has one mark against it that Minnesota Democrats, vying for a similar spot, have raised in recent days: it is too big, and too delegate-rich and too media market expensive as a result. That means that while Michigan may be in a good position to snag an early window spot -- replacing Iowa -- it may not be in line to claim the first spot on the calendar that Iowa has held for half a century. 

Sentiment still exists on the DNCRBC to ease into primary season with smaller states, giving all candidates a chance to compete and succeed. Take long time South Carolina DNC member, Carol Fowler:
“We have always put in the pre-window calendar smaller states, and we’ve done that for good reasons,” said Carol Fowler, a member of the Rules and Bylaws Committee from South Carolina. “If Michigan had been in an early state, I’m not sure President Carter would have ever been president. I think Barack Obama benefited from having small states up front. I think it’s so helpful for a good strong candidate who is not well-funded yet.”
Or Ken Martin, the Minnesota DFL chair and DNCRBC member: 
In particular, Martin noted the number of delegates Michigan has, which correlates to the state’s population and Democratic vote share. The Minnesota party chair called it “too large for inclusion in the early state process,” noting that Michigan’s 139 delegates to the 2024 convention would be nearly as many delegates as the combined total from all three other current early states: New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. 
“With so many delegates being awarded to Michigan, it is easy to see future candidates skipping the rest of the early states altogether — to focus on a prize that delivers nearly as many delegates as all other early states combined,” Martin wrote. “This result would negate the expressed purpose [sic] of our early state strategy.”
Now, Martin is representing Minnesota here (and the overall process, too), but he is also fighting for the same spot Michigan is. But he is right and the tell about Michigan's place in the pecking order is in the description of candidates skipping states to focus on delegate-rich Michigan. Sure, strategically speaking, candidates may be wowed by the delegates at stake in Michigan, but there is no guarantee that any one candidate will net a big advantage coming out of the state. Nevertheless, that traditional sentiment exists which means that Michigan may make it into the early window, but that it would be toward the end before Super Tuesday. 

[Michigan got the nod from the Biden team to be the Iowa replacement. No, it will not be the first contest, but the Great Lakes state appears poised to be added to the back half of the early window]

Minnesota is in the conversation mainly because of the above, but the following hovers over even that:
“It does change the calculus,” a Democrat with knowledge of the discussions among national party leaders who requested anonymity to speak freely said after Michigan Democrats claimed a trifecta in the governor’s office and the two legislative chambers. “Michigan jumps over Minnesota, it’s just that simple. Minnesota was the fallback. Michigan is a key state.”
Unless the last-ditch "Michigan is too big" effort succeeds, then Minnesota is on the outside looking in on the Great Lakes state in this one. But perhaps it works and Minnesota replaces Iowa up front and the two bookend a five state early window. It is possible, but not probable.

[Minnesota was, in fact, the fallback option as the Midwestern replacement for Iowa.]

South Carolina Democrats have seemingly been in "don't rock the boat" mode for much of this process. Sure, there are more competitive southern states with large African American communities, but Georgia, while occasionally mentioned as a possible early state, did not mimic Michigan in the midterms. In the Peach state, it is the secretary of state who sets the date of the presidential primary. And Brad Raffensperger (R) won reelection in November. Plus, if Iowa gets the axe, tossing another state enshrined in the Republican process may be biting off more than the DNCRBC can chew. It would invite too much chaos between the two parties' processes. 

South Carolina already has two quiet factors in its favor. Jamie Harrison, the DNC chair, once chaired the Democratic Party in the Palmetto state for starters. And if Rep. Jim Clyburn (D) has any remaining chits to cash in with the president after his valuable pre-primary endorsement of Biden in 2020, then his voice may carry weight in this process as well.
But House Majority Whip Clyburn, the dean of South Carolina Democrats and a close ally of Biden, said he would not oppose Michigan’s bid to enter the pre-window as long as it does not overshadow South Carolina and other Southern states that vote on Super Tuesday. 
“If it’s Nevada, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Michigan, that’s almost ideal to me,” he said, though he cautioned that New Hampshire’s law could hinder efforts to put it behind Nevada. He said he was also open to New Hampshire and Nevada going on the same day.
Clyburn is mindful of the impact the South Carolina results have had on southern-tinged Super Tuesdays of the past. The majority African American constituency in South Carolina has signaled other similar states in the region in a number of past cycles. 

There may be a minor shuffle of sorts for South Carolina, but the Palmetto state looks to be secure in their first-in-the-South status for 2024.

[For the state that changed the trajectory of Biden's push for the 2020 nomination, the proposed changes represent both a minor shuffle and a major change. South Carolina's proposed shift from the fourth slot to the top is minor on the surface. But it would be a major frontloading of an African American constituency that has been the bedrock of the Democratic coalition for longer than Iowa has been the first state in the party's primary order. That is no small thing. 

As for the logistics of such a move, South Carolina is in the fortunate position of having long ago normalized separate presidential primaries for both parties. There are no start-up financial costs to this. Unlike, say, Nevada above, South Carolina Democrats have an ease of movement that nearly every other state does not. As such, a South Carolina Democratic primary in the first slot does not threaten Republicans in Iowa and New Hampshire in the same way that any other primary state would. This was a part of the calculus when South Carolina was added to the early state roster for the 2008 cycle. And that has been a major part of why the Palmetto state is third in the Republican order and has been fourth on the Democratic side. It is also, in retrospect, a component of why the Biden team settled on South Carolina for the top slot. With divided government in Nevada after the 2022 elections, changing the rules in the Silver state to accommodate both Democratic and Republican processes got more difficult. And oddly enough, the shift from caucuses to a primary -- which the DNC prefers -- may have cost Nevada Democrats some ease of movement in this context.]

The Peach state has been mentioned as a possible addition to the early window in various reporting on the. DNCRBC's calendar deliberations over the course of the last year or so. But it always seemed like that chatter was on the fringe. Perhaps those were Biden insiders who kept bring Georgia up. That would make some sense.

Nevertheless, shifting Georgia into an early window position on the calendar is easier said than done as referenced in the South Carolina section above. Yes, Secretary Raffensperger (R), under law, has a fairly significant amount of latitude in setting the date of the Georgia presidential primary. There is a wide window from early January to mid-June in which he can schedule the contest. But Raffensperger has two major problems in aiding national Democrats in their wishes for an early window Georgia primary. First, there are RNC rules that would strip the Peach state Republican delegation of around 85 percent of its members -- a significant deterrent -- if the primary is before March 1. Additionally, the law does not allow the secretary to schedule two separate contests to accommodate both Democratic and Republican calendars. Perhaps, Georgia Democrats could lobby Raffensperger to exploit the loophole in RNC rules and move the primary to the Saturday before Super Tuesday on March 5. That would place Georgia just inside the backend of the early window in the Democratic process and still be compliant with Republican rules. With unified Democratic control, Michigan will not have to utilize that loophole. There is a freedom of movement there that Georgia does not have (although it would put Michigan Republicans in jeopardy with the RNC.]

Okay. Let's return to that pin from Nevada. 

If Michigan is likely to be slotted into a later early window spot and not the state most likely to threaten Nevada's ascent to the top of the calendar, then New Hampshire probably is. And New Hampshire may not pose any threat to Nevada at or coming out of this next DNCRBC meeting.

Again, Nevada Democrats may leave this meeting having secured the top slot under the new DNC rules. But the state may not end up first on the primary calendar when the votes start getting cast in 2024. The DNCRBC theoretically has a leg to stand on in dealing with Iowa. If the state party there crosses the DNC rules without having made some effort at remedying the situation (e.g.: proposing at a minimum legislation to shift the Hawkeye state to a primary), then they are unlikely to be able to avert national party sanctions. 

That, in turn, neuters Iowa, leaving Nevada and New Hampshire to spar for the first position. 

First of all, as the laws in both states stand now, New Hampshire is better able to move at a moment's notice. There is no official date until the secretary of state in the Granite state sets one. And that decision has been made as late as the week of Thanksgiving (in 2007 ahead of an early January primary). On the other hand, Nevada's date is set: the first Tuesday in February. The legislature there can change that date, but it tends to adjourn for the year in June. There could be a special session, but that seems unlikely. Governor-elect Lombardo (R) is not likely to call any such session for that purpose and the legislature does not have supermajority Democratic control (in the state Senate) to call such a session themselves. That avenue, then, is a dead end. 

Alternatively, the legislature during its 2023 session could cede the authority to set the date of the presidential primary. But mimicking New Hampshire and testing the limits of that move for the first time in a manner that is acceptable to election officials in the state with decreasing time and who will also be implementing a presidential primary for the first time is not exactly a recipe for success. It could happen, but the climb is steep

But what about the DNCRBC? If they can penalize Iowa, then they can penalize New Hampshire too. Maybe, but the conditions are different in the two states despite the fact that they have been lumped together in this process for 50 years. 

New Hampshire has been able to pull off consecutive, non-controversial primaries for several cycles now. Iowa cannot make that claim.

New Hampshire Democrats really have their hands tied on this matter. They are (happily) along for the ride. There is little the state Democratic Party can do if the secretary of state sets the date of the primary for some time that is earlier than and not compliant with DNC rules. Yes, there is a Republican in that position now, but that could change next week when the legislature selects the secretary of state. There is a Democratic challenger, but the legislature remains in Republican control.

New Hampshire could perhaps show demonstrable steps taken to remedy the situation by shifting to a caucus or party-run primary and scheduling it for later. But while that may fix the scheduling conflict, it runs against where the DNC is subtly pushing states: toward government-run primaries. And that may create new problems with implementing a new party-run process. Potentially making it harder for Democrats to vote in New Hampshire is also a dangerous path considering how competitive the state is and how valuable it is to Democrats' electoral college calculus. 

Together, those factors bode well for New Hampshire Democrats winning a later waiver from the DNCRBC than the exemptions to be written into the delegate selection rules now. Again, New Hampshire Democrats hands will have been tied and all routes to remedies cut off. Those are the conditions under which waivers are granted (by rule).

[Even after the Biden letter and the updated New Hampshire positioning underlying it, the Granite state outlook remains unchanged. It is unique in all of this because of the actors involved. Democrats there will be stuck with whatever date the secretary of state selects. And that will likely be before all the states but Iowa in the Republican order.]

Regardless of how this DNCRBC meeting comes out in DC, New Hampshire may once again rise to the top of the heap. The DNCRBC may win some points now for placing Nevada, for example, first, but it may take flak later if New Hampshire ends up in first again anyway without it being penalized. But in the end, the DNCRBC has to follow DNC rules. [Again, with South Carolina and not Nevada proposed in that first slot, there is still some jockeying to be done. But unlike Nevada, South Carolina's primaries split between parties provides a bit more wiggle room.]

And that is the trick in managing a presidential nomination system and not trying to control it. 


Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Michigan Senate Passes Bill Moving Presidential Primary to February

The Michigan State Senate on Tuesday passed SB 1207, a simple measure that would move the presidential primary in the state from the second Tuesday in March up to the second Tuesday in February.

While significant in the context of the pending changes the Democratic National Committee may make to the 2024 presidential primary calendar this week -- including a potential addition of Michigan to the early window -- this near-unanimous vote of the Republican-controlled Senate is likely symbolic.1 It was little more than a bipartisan show ahead of the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting starting on December 1. 

That is not to say that Michigan legislators are not serious about helping to ease the state's presidential primary to a more prime position on the calendar, but there are a few moving parts here that should be accounted for. 

First, the Senate vote comes in the waning days of the 2021-22 legislative session. Now, strange things can happen as sessions come to a close -- including the expedited consideration of legislation -- but there are just a handful of days left in the state House session. One day this week and three more next week are it.

Second, Sen. Wayne Schmidt's (R-37th) legislation was discharged from the Elections Committee on the same day it passed with no committee hearing preceding it since it was introduced in October. And simple though this bill may be -- it is a one page bill -- it is one that could benefit from increased scrutiny. For starters, elections officials might like to chime in, as they always do, on how the new date would affect filing deadlines and their general timeline for elections. And it is also worth noting that Republicans supported this bill but stand to lose a lot if the Michigan presidential primary ends up on the second Tuesday in February. A Republican primary in that position would violate Republican National Committee rules and decrease the Michigan delegation to the 2024 convention by more than three-quarters

Michigan may get a go-ahead from the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee to hold an earlier primary in their meeting this week, but there will be some Michigan-specific factors that will have to be considered in scheduling an early window primary. One option is to mirror what South Carolina does and hold those primaries on separate days. That is one avenue, but it would be an expensive one, and one that is not common among states with government-run primaries. South Carolina is the exception rather than the rule. Michigan is also a much bigger and more expensive state. 

Alternatively, Michigan Republicans could simply opt out of the presidential primary and conduct a primary or caucus on their own. But that is expensive as well and party coffers are tougher to fill than those of the state governments. Plus, that money is often better used elsewhere. Of course, the new Democratic unified government in the Great Lakes state could also force the hands of state Republicans by going with the mid-February date in SB 1207 anyway. That would force Republicans to forge ahead with the new date on the hopes that a waiver might successfully be won, or push them to a later and compliant caucus. And a waiver could work, although that would have implications for the scheduling of other early contests that the Republicans set in stone before 2016 (and have carried over in subsequent cycles). 

Granted, there is a third route that would work for all parties concerned. A loophole in RNC rules would allow for the Michigan primary to be scheduled as early as March 1 without penalty from the RNC. A Saturday, March 2 primary would fall in the early window on the Democratic calendar right before Super Tuesday and also be compliant -- or unpenalized -- under Republican rules. 

But that is a great deal to hash out, and typically states -- either governments or parties -- tend to wait until after the two major parties have finalized the rules before making decisions on when to schedule their primary elections or caucuses. Yes, that has typically been done by now in the process. The DNC is a little late this cycle. 

With that step in place after the early December DNCRBC meeting, the new Michigan legislature -- one controlled by Democrats -- will likely look to put its own stamp on whatever the DNC hands down in terms of overarching guidelines. 

But for now, this vote on SB 1207 was a show vote to demonstrate to national players that Michigan is ready to be early. And if one has followed along with the various calendar machinations over time, Michigan is not an unfamiliar character. 

1 Assistant Majority Caucus Chair Jim Rundestad (R-15th) was the lone dissenting vote. Two Democrats and one other Republican were excused.


Katon Dawson, is that you? Iowa Republican Threatens Halloween 2023 Caucuses

Few likely will get the reference, but Jeff Kaufmann, the Republican Party of Iowa chair, inadvertently or not, stepped into a time machine when he recently suggested moving the party's 2024 caucuses to Halloween 2023.

The players in 2007 were different, but the intent, then as now, was largely similar: to protect a privileged position in the early window of the presidential primary calendar. Then, in the face of Florida shifting its primary for the 2008 cycle into January, South Carolina Republican Party chair, Katon Dawson, gave a similar warning in signaling his desire to keep the status of the Republican primary in the Palmetto state first-in-the-South.

But Dawson's threat was nearly as hyperbolic as Kaufmann's is now. In neither case was (or is) it necessary to push a nominating contest into the year before the presidential election -- much less as far into it as Halloween -- to protect the carve-out status afforded either state. Of course, Dawson was trying to maintain the first slot granted a southern state, not the top overall spot on the calendar. And Florida's striking move was, in the end, the only such push by a rival southern state to South Carolina's position. 

Outside of that, however, the conditions are similar in Iowa now. In both cases there are (and were) separate Democratic and Republican contests run by the state parties and not the state government.1 And that is no small thing. It provides decision makers in similar states the latitude to move when the calendar rules of both national parties are not aligned or when threats arise from other states. 

South Carolina Republicans -- and Democrats, for that matter -- did not have to move ahead of all rogue or potentially rogue states in 2007. They just had to move to a slot ahead of the next earliest, southern state. And Florida, because of its early state legislative session, had made its move for 2008 by May 2007. That gave Republicans in the Palmetto state time to react and move accordingly. Now, 2007 was a particularly chaotic cycle in terms of how the primary calendar evolved and ultimately shook out. It was not completely clear after May whether the Florida threat would sustain itself (depending on what the national parties did in response) or if other states would crash the party as well. 

There were a lot of moving parts in 2007 that are not necessarily present in 2022-23. Democrats ahead of the 2004 cycle attempted to quicken the pace of the nomination process by moving the beginning of their window -- the window in which non-exempt states could hold contests -- from March to February. That was enough to get some states to shift into February for 2004, but the full onslaught did not occur until the next cycle. And that rush was so pronounced with active nomination races in both parties that some states -- Florida among them -- considered pushing even further ahead, contra national party rules. There was an abundance of chaos, sure, but there was even more uncertainty

So, while Dawson's threat was hyperbolic at the time, it also had the effect of laying down a marker for how far South Carolina Republicans were willing to go to protect their first-in-the-South status amid that uncertainty. 

One already knows Iowa Republicans would mount some effort to protect their position. The Republican National Committee has already enshrined Iowa as the first state in its rules for 2024. Kaufmann faces no such uncertainty in 2022-23. That is not to suggest that everything is crystal clear. It is not. However, there is no expected rush to the front of the 2024 queue (at this time). Look, the national parties have been here before. They sat through calendar chaos in 2007, and tweaked their rules (mostly on the Republican side) for 2012 only to see it happen again. Republicans upped their penalties for 2016. And Democrats strengthened their rules for 2024. Those wagons have been circled.

Yes, national Democrats are on the cusp of perhaps shuffling the early window on their primary calendar. That may affect Iowa Democrats, but that has no bearing on Iowa Republican's ability to stay first on the Republican presidential primary calendar (see above on separate scheduling). And Iowa Republicans will not have to push all the way to Halloween 2023 to do that. January maybe, but not 2023.

Even if the DNC gives the green light to Nevada to go first, the collateral damage will be pretty limited. The newly established presidential primary in the Silver state is currently slated for February 6. And if one assumes that the Republican secretary of state in New Hampshire shifts the Granite state primary to a week before that, in accordance with state law, then Iowa Republicans would only have to shift to the Monday eight days before that. 

That looks something like this (from the 2024 primary calendar as it exists at the time of this writing):

I get it. Kaufmann is trying to grab attention, lay down his marker and tweak state Democrats for not better protecting their status in the Democratic process. And he knows this. National Democrats are not playing a game of chicken with him and Iowa Republicans. The fact remains that Iowa Republicans just aren't that likely -- barring a massive unforeseen movement among state actors to go rogue -- to have to hold Halloween caucuses in order to protect their first position on the 2024 Republican presidential primary calendar. 

1 That has subsequently changed in South Carolina. The separate Democratic and Republican primaries are both funded and run by the state government. 


Friday, November 4, 2022

Democrats' 2024 Calendar Shake Up Hinges on Midterms

Of all of the things that are top of mind for those following the 2022 midterm elections set to conclude on Tuesday, November 8 -- much less those who have and will vote -- the 2024 presidential primary calendar is likely not one of them. Sure, the 2024 invisible primary has been going on since at least November 2020, but that does not mean that anyone earnestly wants to dig into the next election before the current one is even over. 

However, like a great many things, the 2024 presidential primary calendar will be affected by the outcomes of the midterm elections taking place across the United States. In a typical cycle, that would mean that gubernatorial and state legislative elections may impact where any given state may end up on subsequent presidential primary calendars. But this is not a typical cycle. In a typical cycle, FHQ would wait for the dust to settle on those state legislative elections, see where the out-party gained control and begin assessing where primary date changes are more likely. 

But again, unlike, say, the 2010 or 2014 or 2018 midterms, 2022 is not typical with respect to the formation and completion of the next presidential primary calendar. Yes, this midterm will impact state legislative control, and in turn, affect which states may or may not move as new sessions begin in 2023. But there is an added wrinkle in 2022 that has not been there in past cycles during the post-reform era. Unlike the half century of presidential nomination cycles before it, the 2024 cycle will push through the midterms without both major parties having completed their guidance for states to finalize their delegate selection processes. 

And the place where that guidance is lacking at the moment is on the Democratic side. The Republican National Committee long ago signaled that it would make no significant changes to its rules for 2024 and subsequently carried the bulk of their rules over to the current cycle when the September 30 (2022) deadline for making changes to the national rules came and went with little fanfare. And likewise, the Democratic National Committee -- through its Rules and Bylaws Committee (DNCRBC -- completed the bulk of its work on the party's 2024 nomination rules.

Yet, the DNCRBC punted on one facet of those rules, a part that has typically been in place before the midterms: the guidelines for which states are granted exemptions in order to go early on the presidential primary calendar.  Now, in typical cycles, the party would entertain discussions of changes to the early states, but would in the face of institutional challenges stick with Iowa and New Hampshire at the front of the queue. In some cycles those discussions are more rigorous than others, but the Iowa/New Hampshire question always comes up. 

The cycles that stand in contrast to that pattern are 2008 and 2024. During the aftermath of the 2004 election, the Price Commission took up the question of Iowa's and New Hampshire's positioning in the Democratic process, ultimately opting to recommend keeping the traditionally early pair among the early states but adding to the early window line up. The DNCRBC acting on those recommendations, then, heard pitches from a handful of states to fill those additional slots alongside Iowa and New Hampshire. Nevada and South Carolina emerged as those two states. 

And there was wisdom to the selection of those two. South Carolina was already positioned as an early state in the Republican process, the first-in-the-South contest that occurred third in the order on the heels of Iowa and New Hampshire. Nevada, on the other hand, was not a fixture in the early Republican calendar, but was a caucus state where the scheduling of the caucuses was not determined by state law. In other words, the two state parties did not have to conduct their caucuses on the same date. Even though Nevada Republicans ultimately forced the issue and joined the early calendar Republican states for 2008 and became normalized thereafter, DNC rules changes did not directly impact that outcome (not in the way that it would if the caucus dates for both parties were set by state law and on the same date).

Now fast forward to the 2024 cycle. Again, the Iowa and New Hampshire question was raised on the Democratic side. The same undercurrent was there -- questioning the wisdom in the same two states leading off the process and what impact that would have on the identity of the eventual nominee. But those typical questions were raised in the context of an error-laden 2020 caucus process in the Hawkeye state, a shrinking of the number of and preference for caucuses in the Democratic process and in the wake of the national conversation stemming from the murder of George Floyd. Basically...
  1. Operational: If Iowa Democrats cannot even conduct seamless caucuses, then why should they continue to be first on the primary calendar? AND
  2. Representational: If the Democratic coalition is as diverse as it is, then why are two overwhelmingly white states kicking off the process to determine the party's presidential nominee?
In that context, the DNCRBC -- and not a separate commission as in 2005-06 -- began to tackle the Iowa/New Hampshire question for the 2024 cycle. That the DNCRNC and not a separate commission led that charge was not the only difference between the 2024 cycle and its forebear from 2008. Unlike during the 2008 cycle, the DNCRBC did not grant a pass to Iowa and New Hampshire and entertain pitches from other would-be early states. Instead, the committee invited Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina and any other willing state party to make their case for an early window exemption. Those 20 states would vie for up to five exempt slots on the early calendar with no guarantees for any of the four traditional carve-out states. 

And the handicapping had gone on for months leading up to the August window in which Democrats tend to finalize their delegate selection rules for the upcoming cycle. Obituaries were written for the Iowa caucuses, and possible replacements and/or early state additions -- Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota and Nevada -- emerged. But the same institutional questions that have dogged past efforts to rearrange the calendar came to the fore in the summer of 2022. That left the DNCRBC to finalize the 2024 rules the panel could finish and leave the calendar questions until after the midterms

But why? 

On the one hand, delaying the decision on which states receive early window exemptions cuts into planning time those states will need to prepare not only for 2024 primaries and caucuses but for submission of draft plans to the DNCRBC by next spring. Yes, it helps some that the DNC finalized all of its other rules, minimizing the uncertainty to the dates of contests and potentially moving them. 

But on the other hand, the DNCRBC also wants to finalize a set of rules that stand some chance to be fully implemented and implemented as seamlessly as possible while also reducing the potential for snags. And here, FHQ means institutional problems when it uses the word snags. 

Now, to this point I have vaguely used the term institutional roadblocks, but specifically, the DNCRBC wants to get through the midterms in order to have some certainty as to exactly who their state-level partners will be in bringing any idealized version of a new early calendar line up to fruition. 

The political climate in 2022 favors the Republican Party based on the typical fundamentals of presidential approval and various measures of the economy. And that, in turn, means that some of those partners may be Republicans who are unwilling or unable to aid Democrats in their pursuit of an altered early calendar. 

Take Michigan. Yes, newly commission-drawn state legislative lines may give Democrats a fighting chance to win one or both chambers in the legislature in the Great Lakes state. But the climate may completely or to some degree negate any gains state Democrats would have taken from redistricting. But even if Republicans retain control of the legislature, there may be some who are willing jump at the chance of holding an earlier primary. In theory, yes, but in practice, those Republican state legislators in control would run into RNC rules setting Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada first and a super penalty that would strip the Michigan delegation of more than three-quarters of its delegates. Perhaps those legislators gamble or perhaps they opt to exploit a loophole in RNC rules. It would not get Michigan to first, replacing Iowa, but it could get the state into the early calendar mix. 

Or how about Minnesota? In the Land of 10,000 Lakes the bar is set a bit differently. The state parties can bypass the legislature under state law. That circumvents the Michigan problem in a way. The date of the Minnesota primary is set for the first Tuesday in March, but the date can be changed if the two state parties can agree on an alternative. That alternative could be first, replacing neighboring Iowa atop the calendar. But again, the same super penalty that would stand in the way of a change in Michigan would also be a roadblock to Minnesota becoming an early state. And the Republican state party chair would have a slightly more difficult time in pleading ignorance of the RNC rules considering state party chairs are RNC members. 

Maybe Georgia could easily fit into one of those early slots? The process for setting the date of the presidential primary is different than the two states described immediately above. But again, the reliability of partners matters. The secretary of state and not the state legislature schedules the presidential primary in the Peach state. 

If Democrat, Bee Nguyen upends incumbent Brad Raffensperger in the Georgia secretary of state race, then national Democrats may have a path to adding the Peach state to the early calendar. Of course, adding a state neighboring another early state, South Carolina, would be unconventional. Georgia is a more competitive state in general elections than South Carolina, but the Palmetto state was instrumental to President Biden's road to the 2020 Democratic nomination and some of his South Carolina surrogates may take umbrage to the first-in-the-South state either sharing the spotlight in the early window or being outright replaced. 

And those are roadblocks with a Democrat as Georgia secretary of state. With Secretary Raffensperger back in Atlanta enforcing state election law, he and the Georgia Republican Party would run into the very same RNC rules that Republican actors in Michigan and Minnesota would face. In other words, there is not necessarily a reliable partner for national Democrats to lean on in Georgia either. 

How about Nevada? The Silver state is already an early state and switched from a caucus to a primary since 2020. Moving Nevada would not necessarily change the early states, but could shake up the order of those early states. It is possible. But again, even that hinges on the midterms. Nevada is currently a state where Democrats have unified control of state government. Should the party retain control of the governor's mansion and the state legislature, then the same Democrats that pushed for the switch to a primary after 2020 and scheduled it for the Tuesday in February immediately after where Iowa has ended up on the calendar in the last two cycles, may make changes to suit the DNCRBC directives (if necessary). 

But Nevada is competitive and while that is an attractive quality to the DNC in terms of the states to slot into the early window, it may also mean that Republicans sweeping to victory in the midterms could spoil any of those plans. Silver state Republicans were not exactly supportive of the switch to a primary and the early February date could run afoul of RNC rules by pushing Iowa and New Hampshire into January. Republicans in power in Nevada after 2022 may reschedule the newly established presidential primary or they could revert the state to a caucus system and leave Democrats there and nationally in the lurch. Regardless, Republicans winning control in Nevada in any way shape or form means that national Democrats will not have partners that could assist them arriving at a calendar that best or better meets the goals set out by the DNCRBC.

But that is how this process goes. If the calendar was so easy to change then it maybe would have been over the course of the last half century. It is not for lack of trying. It is a function of the multitude of roadblocks that stand in the way of change. Big changes to the nomination system come when 1) both parties can agree on them (to some extent) or 2) when one party controls the vast majority of state governments across the country. Look at the 2008 calendar changes as an example of the former and the McGovern-Fraser reforms that ushered in the current system at a time when Democrats lost the presidency but controlled vast swaths of the country on the state level as the major example of the latter.

Look, FHQ is not saying that the status quo will carry over to 2024. It will on the Republican side. But the Democrats' chances of altering the beginning of their calendar depend almost entirely on what happens in the midterm elections. If Republicans sweep the states above, then look for the front of the 2024 primary calendar to look a lot like 2020. Any deviation from that scenario may open the door to some type of change even if it is not the idealized one envisioned by the Democratic Party coalition. Otherwise, the party may get a change, but it may amount to a fifth state being added to the end of the early window in a creative way that state Republicans can stomach (ie: exploiting loopholes in Republican rules).