Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Supreme Court Weighing in on Frontloading?

No, this isn't happening (...yet), but I was asked about the possibility of the Supreme Court allowing the parties' wishes to take precedence over the actions of state governments setting a presidential primary date not in accordance with party rules. [This question arose over at DemConWatch from a discussion over my 2012 Primary Calendar Projection.]

The parties do have the right to set the rules of their nominations. Last year when the Clinton camp was up in arms over the "at-large" casino caucuses in Nevada -- the ones they thought would give Obama a distinct and unfair advantage -- the courts refused to hear the case, falling back on the precedent set in other cases that the party dictates who its nominee will be.

And this has applications in other areas as well. The main conflict has been over the rules concerning how open a primary is. On the question of who can participate in a party's nomination process, the Supreme Court has said that the parties get to decide. In other words, if there is a conflict between state law and the party's wishes, the party gets its way.

This has worked in both directions: parties not wanting closed primaries and parties not wanting open primaries. The case that started all of this was the Tashjian case. Basically, a thirty year old Connecticut law requiring closed primaries came under fire when the state's Republican Party wanted to open their process up to independents as well. The result: The party's right to free association was upheld and independents were allowed to participate in the primary.

On the flip side, California Democratic Party v. Jones established that if a party didn't accept a state-mandated blanket primary as the primary modus operandi, the requirement had to be scrapped. And as the two major parties (and others) didn't accept the California blanket primary, it hit the road.

So what does all this have to do with primary timing? [Yeah, I go on a bit, don't I?] Well, you'd think that if a state law requiring a state to hold its primary on a date the parties didn't like, the parties would get their way. It seems a reasonable extension of the legal doctrine established above, right?

If the DNC says, "Massachusetts, you're going on the third week in May," and the Bay state government doesn't like it, then too bad. Well, what about the RNC? Let's say the GOP says that Massachusetts is fine where it is during the first week in February. Fine, the GOP can go in February and the Democrats can go in May.

Here's the rub, though, and this is where the timing conflict breaks with the opened/closed issue. The state picks up the tab for conducting the primary election. Splitting the two parties up like that doubles the cost (at least theoretically). That places an undue financial burden on the state all of a sudden.

There are a couple of questions that emerge here:

1) What about a state like Montana, where in 2008, the GOP went on February 5 and the Democrats held their delegate selection on June 3? Well, in that case the Montana GOP voluntarily opted out of the state funding to fund its own caucus. Nebraska did the same thing on the Democratic side. And Idaho Democrats have opted out of the state-funded primary at the end of May for years.

2) This one is more important. What if the GOP went along with the plan. Take the Massachusetts example. Let's say that both the DNC and RNC agree that the Massachusetts primary should be in May. Well, now there's a case; one the parties can win because the financial burden is now gone. Massachusetts would likely be required by the courts to shift its primary back a few months since that's what both parties wanted.

But for the Supreme Court to weigh in on the side of the parties on this issue, it would likely require a coordinated calendar assembled in a bipartisan fashion. There are certainly efforts being made on this front, but those competing interests -- that zero sum game where one tiny shift could fundamentally shift the balance in an election toward one party -- will stand in the way of that vision coming to fruition.

Recent Posts:
1996 Presidential Primary Calendar

Like a Kid in a Candy Store: A 2012 GOP Presidential Preference Poll

2012 Primary Reform: Previous General Election Margin as a Means of Setting the Calendar

1996 Presidential Primary Calendar

January 11: Ohio Democratic caucuses
January 25: Hawaii Republican caucuses (through January 31)
January 27: Alaska Republican caucuses (through January 29)

February 6: Louisiana Republican caucuses (21 delegates)
February 12: Iowa caucuses (both parties)
February 20: New Hampshire primary
February 24: Delaware primary
February 27: Arizona primary (Republicans only), North Dakota primary (Republicans only), South Dakota primary (Republicans only)

March: Virginia Republican caucuses
March 2: South Carolina primary (Republicans only -- party-run), Wyoming Republican caucuses
March 5: Colorado primary, Connecticut primary, Georgia primary, Idaho Democratic caucuses, Maine primary, Maryland primary, Massachusetts primary, Minnesota caucuses (both parties), Rhode Island primary, South Carolina Democratic caucuses, Vermont primary, Washington caucuses (both parties)
March 7: Missouri Democratic caucuses, New York primary
March 9: Alaska Democratic caucuses, Arizona Democratic caucuses, Missouri Republican caucuses, South Dakota Democratic caucuses
March 10: Nevada Democratic caucuses
March 12: Florida primary, Hawaii Democratic caucuses, Louisiana primary (both parties -- 9 GOP delegates), Mississippi primary, Oklahoma primary, Oregon primary, Tennessee primary, Texas primary (both parties and Democratic caucuses)
March 16: Michigan Democratic caucuses
March 19: Illinois primary, Michigan primary (Republicans only), Ohio primary (Republicans only), Wisconsin primary
March 23: Wyoming Democratic caucuses
March 25: Utah caucuses (both parties)
March 26: California primary, Nevada primary (Republicans only), Washington primary (Republicans only)
March 29: North Dakota Democratic caucuses

April 2: Kansas primary (canceled -- Republican State Committee chose delegates)
April 13: Virginia Democratic caucuses (and April 15)
April 23: Pennsylvania primary

May 7: Indiana primary, North Carolina primary
May 14: Nebraska primary, West Virginia primary
May 21: Arkansas primary
May 28: Idaho primary (Republicans only), Kentucky primary

June 4: Alabama primary, Montana primary (Democrats only, Republican beauty contest -- no delegates at stake), New Jersey primary, New Mexico primary
June 5: Montana Republican caucuses (through June 13)

[Primaries in bold]

States that are split vertically had different dates for different party contests. The shade to the left of that line corresponds with the month in which the Democratic contest took place and the right side represents the Republican contest.

[Source: Congressional Quarterly and news accounts from 1996. The latter was used to double-check the dates or discover missing ones.]

A few notes:
1) 1996 is the turning point in the frontloading era, in my estimation. The impact of California's decision to pick up its belongings and move from June to March cannot be underestimated. All those delegates being decided upon three months earlier than usual change the calculus of the presidential nomination game for candidates and states alike. Every state following California was even more at risk of being meaningless than ever before.

2) From a numbers standpoint, there were 42 states that held primaries for at least one party in 1996. 29 of those states fell in either February or March. With the exceptions of Virginia, Kansas and Montana, all the contests after March were primaries. In other words, there had been some consolidation of caucus states in the earlier period and a bifurcation of primary states. Those primary states after March were all states that held their presidential primary concurrently with their primaries for state and local offices. Not all of the states that held concurrent primaries were late (see Maryland and Texas ), but each one of those late primaries fell into that category.

3) 1996 witnessed a couple of attempts at regional primaries. Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont (the Yankee Primary) all held their primaries on March 5. Illnois, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin (the Great Lake Primary) all held their contests on March 19. Plus, there was the remnants of the Southern Super Tuesday in 1988. Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas all went on March 12. The latter series of contests virtually sealed the deal for Bob Dole's ascendance to the GOP nomination, and before the race ever really got to the Midwest of the mini-Western primary (California, Nevada and Washington). So even though California moved, the Golden state still missed out on the action.

Recent Posts:
Like a Kid in a Candy Store: A 2012 GOP Presidential Preference Poll

2012 Primary Reform: Previous General Election Margin as a Means of Setting the Calendar

If You Were Indiana, What Would You Do in 2012? A View from Similar States

Friday, February 27, 2009

Like a Kid in a Candy Store: A 2012 GOP Presidential Preference Poll

From CNN/Opinion Research Corporation:

Palin: 29%
Huckabee: 26%
Romney: 21%
Jindal: 9%

Sample: 429 Republicans (nationally)
MoE: 4.5%
Conducted Wednesday and Thursday of last week (2/18-19)

A couple of thoughts:
1) Palin, Huckabee and Romney are basically tied and Jindal is simply suffering from a lack of name recognition nationally at this point. The poll was done prior to his appearance on Meet the Press last weekend and before his response to Obama's speech to Congress this week. Poor performance or not, I suspect the Louisiana governor would have made it into the low to mid-double digits if the poll had been conducted this week.

2) If these are the candidates, I have to say that this bodes well for Mitt Romney. With Iowa and South Carolina having such conservative Republicans, there's the potential that Huckabee and Palin split the conservative vote (Huckabee's 2008 organization vs. Palin's appeal) and open the door for Romney. The former Massachusetts governor finished second to John McCain in New Hampshire and won the Nevada caucuses in 2008. Granted this is all predicated on both the idea that the calendar remains pretty much the same as it was in 2008 and that Jindal never gets off the ground in his efforts. Neither of those are sure things this far out.

Plus, as Pollster points out: at a similar point four years ago Hillary Clinton led John Kerry 40% - 25% with John Edwards at 18%. Barack Obama? He wasn't included. And we see how that worked out.

Recent Posts:
2012 Primary Reform: Previous General Election Margin as a Means of Setting the Calendar

If You Were Indiana, What Would You Do in 2012? A View from Similar States

Indiana and 2012

Thursday, February 26, 2009

2012 Primary Reform: Previous General Election Margin as a Means of Setting the Calendar

FHQ was lucky enough to have Will Bower (of PUMA fame) stop by to add his primary reform system to the comments section of our recent 2012 Primary Calendar Projection. Below is my rather lengthy response to the shape of the system and his plan in particular.

It's funny, Will. I had this same thought during the summer of 2007 when a group of Democratic Ohio state senators introduced a bill that would have moved the Buckeye state's primary from March 4 to January 29 (the same day as the Florida primary). That would have put the decisive state from the previous two general elections near the front of the 2008 primary queue.

Having said that, let me offer one suggestion and some other comments.

Suggestion: I glanced through your original post on this subject as well as some of the comments and it seems to me that some people had issues with the potential for constant rotation.
So why not cut down on the some of the volatility inherent in focusing on just the previous election and focus instead on the last two/three election cycles? Average the margins in each state over that time and set the calendar by rank order accordingly. [I'd actually like to see how the calendar(s) would differ.] That would control for anomaly elections yet still allow for some movement but not a wholesale upheaval from one election to the next.

My impression is that there are generally two things we know about voters and their perceptions of the presidential nomination process:

1) They like knowing when they are going to vote. We already know because the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November is election day that the next presidential general election is on November 6, 2012.

2) They also like knowing that their vote has an impact. If you're voting in a primary held after the point at which a nomination has been decided, that vote isn't making that much difference.

The "easiest" remedy to these two potentially contrasting ideas is a national primary. Everyone knows when they are voting and that their vote matters. The disadvantage is that voter learning would be quite low with the end result that the front-runner would carry an even more decisive advantage into the election.

As I have documented in this space, there are also several rotating primary (whether regionally aligned or not) ideas as well. There are several drawbacks to these ideas:

1) It increases the likelihood of regional candidates that may not have broad appeal (Something that your plan admittedly addresses.).

2) Depending on the plan, it increases the travel constraints on the candidates (And no, I don't buy your argument that Iowa and New Hampshire are far apart. The candidates know that those states are going to be first and invest their time and money wisely well in advance (years not weeks) of those contests.). This also favors the candidates with the most money and name recognition.

3) Here's an issue that I haven't seen addressed anywhere in regards to these rotating primary plans. What happens when your party's nomination is not being contested in a year when your region/grouping is going first. Depending on the plan, it could take twelve years for the process to work its way around to you. And then, there's no guarantee that the same situation won't arise again. This also doesn't seem quite fair.

In a lot of ways, these plans have unintended consequences written all over them.

But the thing is we do have some evidence of support for each of these ideas. A survey of 1285 people conducted pre- and post-Super Tuesday in 2008 asked respondents about their support for primary system reform. Over 70% supported each plan with the national primary idea having slightly more support. Surprisingly though, when given the option, respondents preferred a regional primary system that continues to grant Iowa and New Hampshire an exemption over a such a system where their "first in the nation" status is stripped. [A national primary was still preferred to each.] For more on this survey and some other interesting analyses on it, please see the Tolbert, et al. piece in January's PS.


But what about a primary system based on margin in the previous cycle? Yes, it is a potentially good way to vet candidates for the general election, but at the same time it insures that the spotlight is on the same group of states for the entire election year -- primary and general elections. There's something about that that doesn't seem fair.

The main issue I see is that to coordinate this or any of the rotating plans is requires either federal intervention or both national parties working in concert to impress upon state governments and parties that one of these plans is better than what we've currently got or a national primary. And I'm not convinced the parties would go along with this (whether it is the right plan or not). Let's assume for the sake of argument that this plan is adopted as is for 2012. That means that 14 of the first 15 states (and 20 of the first 25) will be states that were all red in 2004. Is the Democratic Party going to sign off on a plan that allows the Republican Party a chance to actively campaign and organize in all those formerly red states? Possibly, because it keeps them from organizing the way Obama did in red (caucus) states in 2008 in similarly cast blue states. But I doubt they would.

And even if the parties did, what would prevent cast-off, non-competitive state governments/parties from shifting their contests into more relevant positions? In other rotating systems, even those states would have their day in the sun every few cycles. It isn't like Utah, Oklahoma and Idaho can will themselves to be more competitive. Nor can Massachusetts, Rhode Island or Vermont. State governments dominated by particular state parties in those states, in fact, would resist that idea out of hand because it would entail helping the opposition party build itself. It is a lose-lose situation for those decision-makers; a situation that would make them seriously consider defying the calendar rules.

One thing to consider here is allowing for these states to have a seat at the table as well. Thomas Gangale's American Plan aligns states according to size but allows for a couple of the later groupings to shift into earlier positions. So instead of California being stuck at the end in perpetuity, the Golden state has a possibility of going as early as the fourth grouping of the process. That could apply to your plan as well, but it would mean shifting in some of the least competitive states into a more meaningful position.

The first step is seeing what the GOP's Temporary Delegate Selection Committee comes up with between now and the summer of 2010. Their decision will have a large say in whether there will be significant reform before 2012 kicks off.

Recent Posts:
If You Were Indiana, What Would You Do in 2012? A View from Similar States

Indiana and 2012

Democratic Ulterior Motives for 2012 and Frontloading

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

If You Were Indiana, What Would You Do in 2012? A View from Similar States

Yesterday, I laid out a model for projecting how much attention the state of Indiana would have gotten had it held its presidential primary on an earlier date during previous cycles. Before we run the numbers, though, I thought it would be helpful to look at how other similar states have fared in moving their delegate selection events to earlier dates. Despite the fact that size just doesn't seem to matter (Neither my model here nor Ridout and Rottinghaus' model found the number of delegates a state has to be a significant factor in explaining the variation in a states decision to frontload or in the amount of attention said state receives.), my first inclination is to look at how similarly sized states fared after a frontloading move.

For our purposes, we'll use electoral votes as a proxy for size. Indiana has eleven electoral votes and fortunately, over the last several presidential election cycles there have been several similarly sized states that have made significant moves from one cycle to the next.

State Attention Changes (Delegates)
StateBeforeAfterAttention Change
March 7, 2000
February 3, 2004
March 14, 2000February 10, 2004+1.32%
April 4, 2000
February 17, 2004+2.39%

[NOTE: I should probably make at least some mention of the attention variable here. If you've had a chance to look at the Ridout and Rottinghaus paper cited above, the data they use to operationalize the concept is the number of candidate visits to and the number of ads run in a particular state. In the past I have used candidate spending and media coverage (a measure borrowed from Gurian and Haynes 1993) as a measure of this concept, but that series of measures has been compromised by both a change in what the FEC required candidates to file and by the proliferation of candidates opting out of the matching funds system.

As was my practice with the earlier set of data, I take the ads and visits data and convert it to percentages. Yes, that prevents us from saying, "Indiana would have gotten X more visits/ads had it moved its presidential primary Y number of of days/weeks forward." However, I find it powerful to look at this in terms of the share of attention each state got. "Could Indiana have increased its piece of the pie if it had been earlier?" If each state were created and treated equally then, we would expect them to each get about 2% of the total amount of attention (100%/50 states = 2% for each state). States, though, are not equal. Specifically, they are not equal in terms of size. A state like California, then, would be expected to net just more than ten percent of the total amount of candidate attention, while South Dakota would be expected to receive approximately one half of one percent. Indiana, in this case, is essentially right on average, expected to garner a hair more than 2%. From this, we can get a sense of whether a state has out- or under-performed based on what its expected share of the total amount of attention is.]

What, then, did Missouri, Tennessee and Wisconsin -- three states similar in size to Indiana -- gain from moving their presidential primaries to earlier dates between 2000 and 2004? In Missouri's case, not much. The Show-Me state actually lost ground, having gone from being lost in the Super Tuesday shuffle in 2000 to being stuck behind South Carolina and Arizona in 2004. The only reason I can think of to explain this is that the prevailing sentiment must have been that Missouri was going to be close in the general election anyway and that it was more important for the candidates to show strength in the South (in the Democrats' case) even if South Carolina was a done deal for November. First in the South status matters more than general election prospects, then.

While the Missouri case is somewhat puzzling, Tennessee and Wisconsin basically performed in the same way. Both went from essentially no attention in 2000 (both fell after Super Tuesday that year) to their expected levels of attention (give or take a few one-hundredths of a perentage point). What helped both in that regard was that both moved from inconsequential calendar positions to pre-Super Tuesday spots where they were not sharing the spotlight at all or with just one other state (Tennessee and Virginia went on the same date.). Overall though, this is a surprising finding (limited in scope though these cases may be). At least in terms of states around this size, we're talking about basically claiming a level of attention that should reasonably be expected and not out-performing that expectation. Basically, size may matter, but it is probably far less significant than how crowded the position to which a state of this size is moving.

Obviously size isn't all that matters, in fact across the two studies cited above, it has no real impact. But what are other means by which we can draw similarities between Indiana and other states? One thing that crossed my mind was that Nate Silver at put together a nice chart of State Similarity Scores during the summer months of the 2008 campaign. [Sadly, the chart is no longer up in the post and I've tried it with three different browers. However, due to the magic of the internet, I was able to unearth the chart. Safari will allow you to right click the icon that is in the place of the image and save the original. I'm assuming that the reason it has disappeared is because the 1 GB Blogger allowance for images has been exceeded. But I could be wrong. Anyway, I'll reproduce the chart here, but only with the understanding that this is NOT my work. I am merely borrowing it for the purposes of this analysis.] Basically, Silver attempted to discover the percentage of similarity between states based on 19 dimensions.

State Similarity Scores
[Chart via Click image to enlarge and here to go to the original post there.]

Across those 19 dimensions, Indiana has the most in common with neighbor Ohio, Kansas and North Carolina. Kansas is a caucus state (with the exception of 1992) which makes it more difficult to equate with other primary states and North Carolina has been on the same date as Indiana for all but two cycles in the post-reform era (1976 and 1988). The Tarheel state got more than its expected share of attention in 1976 and matched its expectation in 1988. North Carolina is slightly larger than Indiana and serves as a nice baseline for comparison. Again, we see that sharing the spotlight on a particular date makes a difference (on its face at least). North Carolina had its late March date in 1976 all to itself (and was consequential in the GOP nomination race) but was part of the larger Southern Super Tuesday in 1988, a year when the state did better in terms of receiving attention than in the past, but not as good as it would have been had all the other Southern states not gone simultaneously.

The state that shares the most in common with Indiana, though, is Ohio. And the Buckeye state certainly offers a cautionary tale when it comes to the impact of delegate-richness on the level of attention a state receives. Despite being a bellwether during the general election, Ohio has consistently come in under its expected level of attention. Much of that has to do with the state having a presidential primary mired in either May or June for much of the post-reform era. When the state jumped to March in 1996 and ended up coinciding with the Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin primaries, Ohio did gain attention from the candidates, but far less than would be expected for a state of its size and importance.* When Ohio moved again in 2000 (to Super Tuesday), the state actually lost ground. Again, the number of other states on the same date seems to matter.

Just looking through the data (without modeling and then predicting anything), then, size doesn't seem to matter that much. On top of that, if Indiana were smart, they would wait until the last possible moment in 2011 to decide on a date for its 2012 presidential primary (if they choose to go ahead with the move). In other words, the legislators in the Hooiser state would be wise to see where everyone else (or most everyone else) is going and then decide. The problems there, though, are twofold. The earliest allowed date, if party rules remain virtually unchanged, is going to be the first Tuesday in February, and as we've seen, it is going to be crowded. In other words, attention gains would be limited (The real gain would be in insuring that the state's voters have a say in who the party or parties' nominee(s) are going to be.). Relatedly, state legislators would also have to weigh the defiance option. If they go the Florida/Michigan route, Indiana risks losing delegates to the convention, but possibly gains much more attention in the process (especially if the "lose half their delegates" penalty on the GOP side remains the same). But the latter problem is more a problem for the national parties than it is for the states. The penalty just isn't strong enough to prevent states from defying party rules.

*This is even more curious since Ohio had aligned its primary with three other states in the region and those states had the date all to themselves. What didn't help was the fact that Dole's sweep through the remnants of the Southern Super Tuesday the week before forced his main rival, Steve Forbes, from the race, virtually assuring the senator of the GOP nomination

Recent Posts:
Indiana and 2012

Democratic Ulterior Motives for 2012 and Frontloading

Florida in 2012: Primary on the Move?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Indiana and 2012

As of yesterday, the resolution to form a committee to investigate the possibility of moving the Indiana presidential primary had made it through the Indiana state senate on a voice vote. All of this coming a week after the resolution (SCR (Senate Concurrent Resolution) 28) had emerged from committee successfully. Sure, this is the same strategy that was utilized and failed during the 2008 legislative session in Indiana (in the House -- HR 105). The difference this time is that there is actually bipartisan support for studying the move, whereas a year ago GOP State Rep. Suzanne Crouch was the only one pushing for the committee. In 2009, though, there is a Democrat and a Republican co-sponsor of the resolution in each chamber.

This strikes me as a wise way of going about this process. Why not look into the prudence of shifting the primary instead of just moving along with everyone else? [Who says a legislature can't be a deliberative body?] Indiana isn't California, so the candidates aren't necessarily going to flock to the Hoosier state if the state government there opts to shift its presidential primary to Super Tuesday, say.

But what is Indiana likely to gain by moving up versus staying put? Let's take a step back for a moment and discuss this situation. Overall, this is akin to the study that Travis Ridout and Brandon Rottinghaus had in PS early last year (Fortunately, that pdf link is not gated, but I'll link it here anyway.). Their goal was to predict the benefits a Western Regional Primary would receive based on varying levels of "crowdedness" and proximity to the New Hampshire primary. The benefits of the regional primary dissipated both the further away the bloc primary was from New Hampshire and the more frontloaded the calendar of contests around that regional primary got. It could be instructive to follow their lead -- taking the data from 2000, 2004 and now 2008 to predict what Indiana would get from moving earlier in 2012 -- but I'd argue it'd be just as instructive to see what Indiana would have gotten in 2000 and 2004 if they had moved up a certain number of weeks and with far fewer assumptions.

The same rules basically apply: We can regress the same group of variables Ridout and Rottinhaus did on the candidate attention variables. That information will allow us to simulate what Indiana or any other state would have gotten by simply shifting both its proximity to New Hampshire and how big of a crowd there was on the date where Indiana "moved." Fortunately I have most of this data and should be able to put something together over the coming weekend.

But first, what factors matter in this equation?
  • Delegates: As I alluded to above, size maters. California is likely to get more attention from moving than Indiana.
  • Primary or caucus?: Despite all the chatter about caucuses in 2008, primaries still garner the most attention from candidates.
  • Event Scheduling: This site is pretty much predicated on the idea that in the current system, earlier is better.
  • Number of candidates: Obviously, the greater the number of candidates in the nomination race at the time of a state's contest, the more attention that state is likely to get.
  • Number of simultaneous events: A crowded field of contests on any one day translates into candidate resources stretched thin. Look no further than Arkansas on this one.
  • Number of events in the same week: The reasoning above holds true here as well. If a state has a contest on the weekend following Super Tuesday, it may receive short shrift from the candidates than if it had not been as close to so many other contests.
  • Number of nearby states on the same date: Finally, resources are hypothetically more efficiently spent if a cluster of contests in neighboring states occur simultaneously. If John McCain is already in Missouri it is much easier (and more likely) to go campaign in nearby Oklahoma or Arkansas or Tennessee prior to February 5, 2008.

And before we get into a statistical model, it would probably be best, not to mention instructive to look at some descriptive statistics for similar states that also recently frontloaded. That's where I'll turn tomorrow.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Democratic Ulterior Motives for 2012 and Frontloading

Yesterday, Jack put a bee in my bonnet by bringing up the specter of Democratic ulterior motives looming over the presidential primary scheduling for 2012. And as all good comments usually do, that got me thinking about the state legislative parties working to sabotage the nomination process for the alternate party. Just to be clear, I don't think this is necessarily happening. I don't think that Republicans could have foreseen what was going to happen with the DNC's sanction upgrade (fully stripping the state of its Democratic convention delegates) prior to the 2008 primaries or that the Democratic nomination would stretch out as far as it did. In any event the votes in both the Florida House and Senate were nearly unanimous; bringing in most of the Democrats in the process. If the Republicans in the Florida General Assembly were acting in ill will, then the Democrats took the bait. And I don't think that is the case any more than I think State Rep. Kevin Rader is proposing a reversion of the primary date in Florida to March to hurt the GOP in 2012. I just think he wants a primary that is in compliance with DNC rules (...if they were to remain the same for the next cycle or two).

But as long as we're talking ulterior motives, how about this one? The goal isn't necessarily to throw the 2012 GOP process into chaos, but to decrease the opportunity for on-the-ground organizing. In other words, keep the GOP away from an early and competitive, in this case, Florida primary and cause them to miss out on the organizational positives they would have gained. I'm going to go ahead and assume that if the primary rules are unchanged and the schedule remains similarly static, save Florida, the Republican nomination will have been decided well before the second week in March when Florida would hold its primary. Basically the, should Florida prove competitive in the subsequent general election campaign, then, the GOP's nominee will have lost out on some of that early organizational activity.

If 2008 taught us anything its that intra-party divisiveness has several levels. Jimmy Carter/Ted Kennedy divisiveness equals party paralysis while Obama/Clinton divisiveness leads to potential organization-building that will prove useful in the general election. [Now, it could also be that Barack Obama caught lightning in a bottle and that Hillary Clinton's endorsement really helped, but humor me, will you?] Of course, an additional layer in this is competition. Competition in 2008 is alright when both parties have contested nominations, but in 2012 it may not be welcomed in the Republican nomination battle. That type of competition builds interest in the race from state to state, but that could be offset to some extent by the need for the GOP to quickly settle in on an opponent for Obama. Would competition have helped the Democrats in 2004? [Actually, don't answer that. It could be that the Swift Boat stuff could have come out earlier, a la Jeremiah Wright, and either sunk John Kerry or helped his team develop a better strategy for dealing with it.] Still, the DNC allowed for February contests in 2004 precisely so that the party could unify quickly behind a nominee and begin the fight against George W. Bush. Would the RNC repeat this strategy or play with fire and attempt to mimic the competition and organization route the Democrats took in 2008? The former has failed, and the latter has the potential to blow up in their faces if the competition turns nasty.

But let's revisit this organization hypothesis because I don't think it can be understated. Democrats certainly could act in a way as to prevent primary period organization on the part of the Republicans, but it is probably more likely that we see Republican efforts to recreate what the Democrats had in 2008. This doesn't have to be some full-blown effort to resituate all the states on the calendar. It could simply be a few perceived November battlegrounds that get moved to earlier dates. This may also explain why Republicans in North Carolina and Indiana are pushing for earlier contests in 2012.

Let's think about this in terms of states those two states. Here are two states where Obama benefited because the Democratic nomination stretched into and through May. Obama was able to begin building the foundation in those states in a way he perhaps couldn't have minus the competition he had from Hillary Clinton. If Obama was the nominee at that point, Obama-McCain may not have energized voters in the same way that Obama-Clinton did. And in any event, the spotlight wouldn't have been that brightly shone on either state at that point.

If Indiana and North Carolina are shifted to earlier dates in 2012, as Republicans in each state are pushing for to varying degrees, that could provide the eventual nominee with some very much needed early organization in two of 2008's closest states*. So this isn't so much a matter of Democratic ulterior motives as it is about Republican motives in terms of the proper balance to create for 2012. [Am I saying the post title was misleading? No, of course not.]

*Of course if both Indiana and North Carolina move to Super Tuesday in February, then the quality of organzation is likely to suffer because candidate resources will be stretched so thin across so many states. Each would have to tamp down on the level of competition from other states.

Recent Posts:
Florida in 2012: Primary on the Move?

1992 Presidential Primary Calendar

The 2012 Presidential Primary Calendar (2/19/09)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Florida in 2012: Primary on the Move?

In yesterday's 2012 primary calendar post, I linked to a bill in the Florida House that proposes to move the state's presidential primary from the last Tuesday in January back to March. Of course, I didn't dwell on that too much there, but this needs to be addressed. Obviously, in Florida, we're talking about one of the poster children for delegate selection rule defiance during the lead up to the 2008 election. Yes, on the surface it looks like Florida might be coming back into compliance, but I'm not taking this bill too seriously for a couple of reasons.
  1. It is too early. There may be movement in state legislatures right now concerning 2012 presidential primary positioning, but if history is our guide, much of it will be unsuccessful. Why? Well, for starters, we don't know the delegate selection rules for 2012 yet. Under normal circumstances we would have an idea of those rules. Let's take the Republicans first. The Republican Party would have set their rules at the convention last September, but has allowed for rules tinkering between conventions for the first time. In other words, we knew the 2008 Republican delegate selection rules in September 2004, but have no idea of knowing when they'll nail this down ahead of 2012. We do know that new RNC Chair Michael Steele will have a significant impact on the process. On the Democratic side, the rules are largely inconsequential because a primary challenge of President Obama is highly unlikely. With both parties' rules still unsettled, most legislatures are collectively taking a wait and see approach. [Rules aside, most of the primary movement over the course of the last few cycles was solidified in state legislatures after the midterm elections. And not knowing the rules is exacerbating this issue.]
  2. With only the GOP nomination likely at stake, Republican-controlled state legislatures and Republican state parties (in the case of caucus movement) have the highest probability of moving or protecting an early date. In other words, a bill sponsored by a Democrat (as HB759 is) concerned with Democratic Party compliance is not likely to be high on the House GOP leadership's list of priorities. In Florida's case, both the legislature (both houses: House: 63% GOP, Senate: 65% GOP) and the governor's office are Republican-controlled. As such, Florida is more likely to hang onto its early position in 2012 or to wait it out to see if the state's primary date is out of compliance with RNC rules when those are settled on.
Why should Florida Republicans move the primary (in any direction) when they don't know what the rules are, whether the Sunshine state's primary is out of compliance, or what the penalties are for non-compliance? The short answer is they won't. This bill will be referred to its relevant committee and will likely be bottled up there.

Thanks to Ballot Access News for breaking the news of the Florida bill. It is odd that it slipped through unnoticed since being introduced two weeks ago today (February 6).

NOTE: Also, I've been lax on discussing the committee being formed in Indiana to look at the presidential primary process in the Hoosier state (There's more here.). The main question: Should the state move its primary or not? I'll have something substantive on that hopefully this weekend.

Recent Posts:
1992 Presidential Primary Calendar

The 2012 Presidential Primary Calendar (2/19/09)

Beebe's Signature Makes It Official: Arkansas Back to May

Thursday, February 19, 2009

1992 Presidential Primary Calendar

January (late): Hawaii Republican precinct caucuses
January - March: North Dakota Republican precinct caucuses
January - May: Virginia Republican local meetings

February 2: Nevada Republican caucuses (through February 29)
February 10: Iowa caucuses (both parties)
February 18: New Hampshire primary
February 23: Maine caucuses (both parties)
February 25: South Dakota primary

March 2: Alaska Republican caucuses
March 3: Colorado primary, Georgia primary, Idaho Democratic caucuses, Maryland primary, Minnesota Democratic caucuses, Utah Democratic caucuses, Washington Democratic caucuses
March 5: North Dakota Democratic caucuses (through March 19)
March 7: Arizona caucuses (Both parties, but the GOP caucuses had no presidential preference. Those delegates selected at those caucuses went to the state convention -- 5/10/1992 -- where national convention delegate allocation took place.), South Carolina primary (party-run), Wyoming caucuses (Both parties, but Republicans meet through March 11)
March 8: Nevada Democratic caucuses
March 10: Delaware Democratic caucuses, Florida primary, Hawaii Democratic caucuses, Louisiana primary, Massachusetts primary, Mississippi primary, Missouri Democratic caucuses, Oklahoma primary, Rhode Island primary, Tennessee primary, Texas primary (& Democratic caucuses)
March 17: Illinois primary, Michigan primary
March 24: Connecticut primary
March 31: Vermont caucuses (both parties)

April - May: Hawaii Republican regional caucuses
April 2: Alaska Democratic caucuses, North Dakota Republican convention (through April 5)
April 7: Kansas primary, Minnesota primary (Republicans only), New York primary (Republicans had no presidential preference on ballot; just delegates), Wisconsin primary
April 11: Virginia Democratic caucuses (& April 13)
April 14: Missouri Republican caucuses
April 27: Utah Republican caucuses
April 28: Pennsylvania primary

May 5: Indiana primary, North Carolina primary
May 9: Delaware Republican convention
May 10: Arizona Republican convention
May 12: Nebraska primary, West Virginia primary
May 19: Oregon primary, Washington primary (Republicans only)
May 26: Arkansas primary, Idaho primary (Republicans only), Kentucky primary
May 29: Virginia Republican convention (through May 30, no formal process)

June 2: Alabama primary, California primary, Montana primary (Democrats only), New Jersey primary, New Mexico primary, Ohio primary
June 9: North Dakota primary (beauty contest for both parties)

July 9-11: Montana Republican convention (no formal process)

[Primaries in bold]

*States that are split vertically had different dates for different party contests. The shade to the left of that line corresponds with the month in which the Democratic contest took place and the right side represents the Republican contest.

[Source: Congressional Quarterly and news accounts from 1992. The latter was used to double-check the dates or discover missing ones.]

A few notes:
1. This map has been altered slightly from the one that was in the chronological slideshow previously. The reason for this is that I wanted to add in the dates of the Republican primaries and caucuses as well. I touched on this in the calendar post for 1984, but didn't account for the uncompetitive Republican contests that year because the data were harder to come by. For 1992, I was able to track those dates down. The result is a lot of split states.* And though these uncompetitive Republican contests don't factor into my specific research question regarding frontloading, their movement from cycle to cycle could open the door to an alternate set of questions.

2. The frontloading witnessed in 1992 was a product of, similar to the situations in 2004 and 2008, the window being widened to allow for earlier contests. In 2004 that meant February contests, but in 1992, national party rules allowed for contests to take place during the first week in March. Furthermore, Iowa and New Hampshire were joined in 1992 by South Dakota and Maine as states exempted from the Democratic Party's window rule (No contest could be held before the first Tuesday in March unless exempted by the party.).

3. Several states made the transition from caucus to primary in 1992. Though, oddly enough, none of them stuck. Colorado, Kansas and Minnesota all were previously caucus states, were primary states in 1992 and by 2004 were all caucus states again. Those 1992 shifts were countered by the opposite move in a couple of border/Southern states. Both Missouri and Virginia went from being primary states in 1988 -- for the Southern Super Tuesday -- to being caucus states in 1992. South Carolina, on the other hand, moved to a primary in 1992 and in the case of the Republican Party has kept that primary in place ever since.

4. And what about frontloading in 1992? Compared to 1988 there wasn't that much movement forward on the calendar. South Dakota, with its exemption, jumped the most -- from June to February -- but, on the whole, the '92 cycle was marked by backloading more than frontloading. Several Southern states reverted to prior positions (Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, North Carolina). The frontloading that did take place was much less pronounced, movement measured in weeks instead of months (Colorado, Georgia and Maryland). The result is that this calendar is essentially equally as frontloaded as 1988 if not slightly less so.

5. The Republican contests were difficult to nail down in some cases. The map reflects the point at which the earliest step in the process occurred. So though Hawaii, North Dakota and Virginia didn't allocate delegates until their conventions, there were early (and staggered) meetings that took place in January.

Recent Posts:
The 2012 Presidential Primary Calendar (2/19/09)

Beebe's Signature Makes It Official: Arkansas Back to May

North Carolina Bill to Move 2012 Primary to February

The 2012 Presidential Primary Calendar (2/19/09)

For the most up-to-date version of this calendar see the left sidebar under the 2012 electoral college projection or click here.

With Arkansas making the state's presidential primary move from February to May official, FHQ is compelled to update the 2012 Presidential Primary Calendar. Now, I should add that I'm going to leave these updates somewhat messy on purpose to provide as much detail as possible. The "clean" version -- the version with the calendar as it currently stands -- will always be in the side bar. [The side bar calendar will also have a link to the most current "messy" version of the 2012 calendar at the bottom.] Here, then, are the caveats to what you see below:
  1. Caucus states are italicized while primary states are not.
  2. States that have changed dates appear twice on the calendar; once by the old date and once by the new date. The old date will be struck through while the new date will be color-coded with the amount of movement (in days) in parentheses. States in green are states that have moved to earlier dates on the calendar and states in red are those that have moved to later dates. Arkansas, for example, has moved its 2012 primary and moved it back 104 days.
  3. You'll also see that some of the states on the calendar are live links. These are links to active legislation that would shift the date on which that state's presidential primary would be held in 2012. That allows us to track the status of the legislation more easily.

2012 Presidential Primary Calendar

Monday, January 16, 2012: Iowa caucuses*

Tuesday, January 24
: New Hampshire*

Saturday, January 28: Nevada caucuses*, South Carolina*

A note on the placement of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

Tuesday, January 31
: Florida

Tuesday, February 7 (Super Tuesday): Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah

Saturday, February 11: Louisiana

Tuesday, February 14: Maryland, Virginia

Tuesday, February 21: Wisconsin

Tuesday, February 28: Arizona**, Michigan***

Tuesday, March 6: Massachusetts***, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont

Tuesday, March 13: Mississippi

Tuesday, March 20: Colorado caucuses****

Tuesday, April 24: Pennsylvania

Tuesday, May 8: Indiana, North Carolina and West Virginia

Tuesday, May 15: Nebraska, Oregon

Tuesday, May 22: Arkansas (-104), Idaho, Kentucky

Tuesday, June 5: Montana, New Mexico***** and South Dakota

*New Hampshire law calls for the Granite state to hold a primary on the second Tuesday of March or seven days prior to any other similar election, whichever is earlier. Florida is first now, so New Hampshire would be a week earlier at the latest. Traditionally, Iowa has gone on the Monday a week prior to New Hampshire. For the time being we'll wedge Nevada and South Carolina in on the Saturday between New Hampshire and Florida, but these are just guesses at the moment. Any rogue states could cause a shift.

**In Arizona the governor can use his or her proclamation powers to move the state's primary to a date on which the event would have an impact on the nomination. In 2004 and 2008 the primary was moved to the first Tuesday in February.

***Massachusetts and Michigan are the only states that passed a frontloading bill prior to 2008 that was not permanent. The Bay state reverts to its first Tuesday in March date in 2012 while Michigan will fall back to the fourth Tuesday in February.

****The Colorado Democratic and Republican parties have the option to move their caucuses from the third Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in February.

*****The law in New Mexico allows the parties to decide when to hold their nominating contests. The Democrats have gone in early February in the last two cycles, but the GOP has held steady in June. They have the option of moving however.

Recent Posts:
Beebe's Signature Makes It Official: Arkansas Back to May

North Carolina Bill to Move 2012 Primary to February

1988 Presidential Primary Calendar

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Beebe's Signature Makes It Official: Arkansas Back to May

Ballot Access News is reporting that Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe has signed HB 1021 (Act 26) into law, moving the state's presidential primary back to May from February. FHQ has been unable to independently verify this information. The folks in Little Rock seem to have been more tied up in former-President Clinton's address to the legislature today than other matters. Neither the governor's web site nor the legislature's web site (see bill link above) have anything up about the legislation being signed into law. When that information is more widely dispersed I'll post another link(s).

However, I did want to look through the bill to make sure FHQ had the correct date for an updated version of the 2012 Presidential Primary Calendar. The outcome? Arkansas has some interesting language to its election law. The only mention of "Tuesday" in the legislation, or for that matter the Arkansas Codes, is in reference to the primary (presidential and state/local) being on the second Tuesday of any month or the second Tuesday in June.


It turns out that when the statutes call reference a "General Primary Election" they mean a runoff. What's call the "Preference Primary" -- the actual primary -- is held three weeks prior to that in late May. [Thanks to The Green Papers for that clarification, here.] In 2012, the second Tuesday in June is June 12. The Arkansas primary would then take place on May 22, three weeks ahead of that.

This, of course, assumes that Arkansas doesn't pull a New Jersey circa 2008 and move twice before 2012. That bill to move the primary to August (SB235) is still active. But the August language seems to have been striken from the bill with the second amendment added on Wednesday (February 18). That leaves a bill that looks an awful lot like the one signed by the governor today.

Recent Posts:
North Carolina Bill to Move 2012 Primary to February

1988 Presidential Primary Calendar

1984 Presidential Primary Calendar

Thursday, February 12, 2009

North Carolina Bill to Move 2012 Primary to February

On Wednesday, a bill (S150) to move North Carolina's presidential primary from May to February in 2012 was filed in the state Senate. Under normal circumstances, I might get excited about this. For starters, it isn't typically until after the midterm elections that the full flurry of frontloading activity takes place in state legislatures across the country. [Well, that's not true. There is usually activity, but it usually isn't "successful" activity resulting in an actual move.] Arkansas, for instance, is close to moving its presidential primary back in 2012 and there has been a bill introduced in Illinois with essentially the same goal for the primaries in the Land of Lincoln. North Carolina, though, becomes the first state to have a bill introduced that proposes a move forward on the 2012 presidential primary calendar.

A couple of questions come out of this:
1) Why aren't you excited?
2) What's with the lack of activity?

Let's deal with number one first. This bill isn't groundbreaking legislation in the North Carolina Senate. Actually, it is deja vu all over again. The same bill was introduced by the same group of Republican senators two years ago. [Well, the group of nine senate co-sponsors in 2007 has now swelled to ten; adding Austin Allran to the list in 2009.] That bill (S168) was referred to the Judiciary (I) committee, where it got bottled up and eventually faded away. Judiciary (I) is still chaired by Democratic State Senator Martin L. Nesbitt, who was new to the post at the outset of the 2007 session. Needless to say, the conditions are the very same in 2009 as they were in 2007 (within the legislature at least), and the outcome isn't likely to be any different. Removed from the equation, though, is fact that both parties' nominations won't be at stake in 2012 (making successful passage of this bill even less likely still). And that brings us to the second question.

Why isn't there any more activity on the frontloading front? [After all, it seemed like a big deal when all these states were moving prior to the 2008 primary season.] Well, part of it is political. Unless Obama fails miserably in the next couple of years, the president won't be challenged in the Democratic primaries in 2012. All eyes are on the GOP then. Either the national party will devise a different nomination system (either completely different or slightly modified) or Republican-dominated states (whether state legislatures or state parties) will look to move to more influential positions on the primary calendar in 2012.

States where the Democratic Party is the majority party or where there is more competition between the parties are less likely to throw their hats in the frontloading ring. In the Democratic-controlled states there is no perceived need to get involved in the GOP nomination race; especially if the state's primary or caucus is closed to Democrats or independents. [Why move up for the Republicans?] If the primary is open to cross-over/independent voters, they could have a moderating effect on the Republican nomination race. But why would a Democratic state be motivated to have a moderating effect on the outcome of the GOP nomination? A more extreme candidate, is a more beatable candidate for an incumbent Democratic candidate.

In the more competitive/divided government states (in terms of party competition), Democrats, again, would be motivated to obstruct Republican efforts to move a presidential primary forward. Such a state is likely to be a battleground state in the general election and Democrats within the state would not be motivated to allow for an earlier contest and in turn earlier party and candidate organization in the state. It just is not strategically wise.

To make a short story long, then, there isn't any frontloading activity because...
1) it is early.

2) only one party will likely have a contested nomination race, and

3) This is related to the the first point -- I would suspect some states are still waiting to see if the Republican Party or both parties working together in some way attempt to fundamentally alter the presidential nomination system. But that's a subject for another post.

H/t: Ballot Access News for bringing this to our attention today.

Recent Posts:
1988 Presidential Primary Calendar

1984 Presidential Primary Calendar

More on the Potential August Arkansas Primary

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

1988 Presidential Primary Calendar

January 14: Michigan Republican caucus (middle step in delegate allocation -- process began in August 1986)

February 1: Kansas Republican caucuses (through February 7)
February 4: Hawaii Republican caucuses
February 8: Iowa caucuses (both parties)
February 9: Wyoming Republican caucuses (through February 24)
February 16: New Hampshire primary
February 18: Nevada Republican caucuses
February 23: Minnesota caucuses (both parties), South Dakota primary
February 26: Maine Republican caucuses (through February 28)
February 27: Alaska Republican caucuses (through March 1)
February 28: Maine Democratic caucuses

March 1: Vermont primary (beauty contest -- no delegates at stake)
March 5: South Carolina Republican primary (party-run), Wyoming Democratic caucuses
March 8: Alabama primary, Arkansas primary, Florida primary, Georgia primary, Hawaii Democratic caucuses, Idaho Democratic caucuses, Kentucky primary, Louisiana primary, Maryland primary, Massachusetts primary, Mississippi primary, Missouri primary, Nevada Democratic caucuses, North Carolina primary, Oklahoma primary, Rhode Island primary, Tennessee primary, Texas primary (Democratic primary-caucus), Virginia primary, Washington caucuses (both parties)
March 10: Alaska Democratic caucuses
March 12 South Carolina Democratic caucuses
March 15: Illinois primary
March 19: Kansas Democratic caucuses
March 26: Michigan Democratic caucuses
March 27: North Dakota Democratic caucuses
March 29: Connecticut primary

April 4: Colorado caucuses (both parties)
April 5: Delaware Republican caucuses (through April 25), Wisconsin primary
April 16: Arizona Democratic caucuses
April 18: Delaware Democratic caucuses
April 19: New York primary, Vermont caucuses (both parties)
April 25: Utah caucuses (both parties)
April 26: Pennsylvania primary

May 3: Indiana primary, Ohio primary
May 10: Nebraska primary, West Virginia primary
May 14: Arizona Republican convention (end of multi-tiered caucus process which began in 1986)
May 17: Oregon primary
May 24: Idaho primary (Republicans only),

June 7: California primary, Montana primary, New Jersey primary, New Mexico primary
June 14: North Dakota primary (Republicans only)

[Primaries in bold]

States that are split vertically had different dates for different party contests. The shade to the left of that line corresponds with the month in which the Democratic contest took place and the right side represents the Republican contest.

[Source: Congressional Quarterly and news accounts from 1988. The latter was used to double-check the dates or discover missing ones.]

A few notes:
1) Obviously, the Southern Super Tuesday fundamentally shifted the balance in terms of frontloading in 1988. Up to this point our simple metric has been examining the number of contests (primaries specifically) held in May and June. From 1976-1984, May and June combined represented the time when most presidential primaries were being held. That wasn't the case in 1988. First of all, there was a jump in the number of primaries (Several southern states made the switch from caucus to primary between 1984 and 1988.). And secondly, only eleven of those 35 primaries were in May and June. 19 of those primaries were in March alone -- 15 of which were on Super Tuesday (March 8). The center of gravity in the nomination calendar, then, shifted from May to March and wouldn't formally shift again until both parties allowed for February contests (2000 for the GOP and 2004 for the Democrats).

2) January contests were back in 1988. Iowa had camped out in late January in 1976 and 1980; joined by several other caucus states that were largely ignored by the candidates and the media. In 1984, however, Iowa dropped back into February when only the Democratic nomination was at stake. The Hawkeye state stayed in February in 1988, but saw Michigan's Republicans jump into January. Which brings us to...

3) Two states began the 1988 delegate selection process in 1986. [Take that Florida and Michigan in 2008!] This sounds like a major violation of party rules, but in actuality it wasn't. To that point, only the Democrats were using the "Window Rule" to define when a state could and could not hold its delegate selection event. In other words, if you look back at those January (and even February) contests outside of Iowa in 1976 and 1980, it is a group of Republican contests mainly (and caucuses at that). The same holds true in this case. In 1988 (or in 1986 more accurately), Arizona and Michigan both held the initial stages of their Republican delegate selection. The Democratic caucuses in both states were in April and March, respectively -- within the DNC's delegate selection rules. However, this shows that 2008 was not Michigan's first foray into challenging Iowa and New Hampshire's first in the nation status.

Recent Posts:
1984 Presidential Primary Calendar

More on the Potential August Arkansas Primary

1980 Presidential Primary Calendar

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

1984 Presidential Primary Calendar

February 20: Iowa caucuses (both parties)
February 28: New Hampshire primary

March 4: Maine Democratic caucuses
March 10: Wyoming Democratic caucuses
March 13: Alabama primary, Florida primary, Georgia primary, Hawaii Democratic caucuses, Massachusetts primary, Nevada Democratic caucuses, Oklahoma Democratic caucuses, Rhode Island primary, Washington Democratic caucuses
March 14: Delaware Democratic caucuses, North Dakota Democratic caucuses (through March 28)
March 15: Alaska Democratic caucuses
March 17: Arkansas Democratic caucuses, Michigan Democratic caucuses, Mississippi Democratic caucuses, South Carolina Democratic caucuses
March 20: Illinois primary, Minnesota Democratic caucuses
March 24: Kansas Democratic caucuses, Virginia Democratic caucuses (and March 26)
March 25: Montana Democratic caucuses
March 27: Connecticut primary
March 31: Kentucky Democratic caucuses

April 3: New York primary, Wisconsin primary (Republicans only)
April 7: Wisconsin Democratic caucuses
April 10: Pennsylvania primary
April 14: Arizona Democratic caucuses
April 18: Missouri Democratic caucuses
April 24: Vermont Democratic caucuses
April 25: Utah Democratic caucuses

May 1: Tennessee primary
May 5: Colorado Democratic caucuses, Louisiana primary, Texas Democratic caucuses
May 8: Indiana primary, Maryland primary, North Carolina primary, Ohio primary
May 15: Nebraska primary, Oregon primary
May 24: Idaho primary and Democratic caucuses (primary was a beauty contest with no delegates at stake; delegates were allocated through the caucuses)

June 5: California primary, Mississippi primary (Republicans only), Montana primary (Republicans only), New Jersey primary, New Mexico primary, South Dakota primary, West Virginia primary

[Primaries in bold]

States that are split vertically had different dates for different party contests. The shade to the left of that line corresponds with the month in which the Democratic contest took place and the right side represents the Republican contest.

[Source: Congressional Quarterly and news accounts from 1984. The latter was used to double-check the dates or discover missing ones.]

A few notes:
1) 1984, and to a lesser extent 1992 and 1996, are frustrating years for cataloging the full calendar. The Democratic calendar is much easier to put together, but the Republican calendar is harder to come by simply because Ronald Reagan ran virtually unopposed in his bid for the GOP nomination that year. In other words, we know when the GOP primaries were, but have a more difficult time ascertaining when the caucuses were held. This is less a problem in 1992 and 1996 because that data is readily available, though harder to find than, say, the Republican calendar in 2004. As such, this is a tentative map and calendar. It will be augmented as soon as I incorporate the Republican calendar. That information isn't a vital portion of my research question, but it will certainly be something to account for in the future. There are some potentially secondary questions there.

2) The 1984 calendar is an awful lot like the one in 1980. 15 of the 26 primaries (excluding the Idaho beauty contest for the Democrats) held occurred after the beginning of May.
3) However, the date on which the greatest number of delegate selection events were held was March 13; much earlier than in 1980 when the last week had nine contests. Granted in 1980, the first Tuesday in June had nine total contests to the second Tuesday in March's seven, whereas four years later those numbers were in reverse. In other words, there wasn't a large overall shift of contests to earlier dates.

3) Overall, the month of March saw six more contests in 1984 as compared to 1980. But the fact that there were no January contests and four fewer February contests in 1984 was the main factor driving this increase; not movement from the later states of 1980.

Recent Posts:
More on the Potential August Arkansas Primary

1980 Presidential Primary Calendar

Arkansas Senate Unanimously Passes Primary Bill

Thursday, February 5, 2009

More on the Potential August Arkansas Primary

I left off the other day speculating that a post-convention, pre-general election primary was not the intent of legislators pushing an August primary in Arkansas. [Actually, in its amended form, SB 253 calls for a late July presidential preference primary, separate from the other primary contests to be conducted during the third week in August.] But why make this move? It isn't to influence the general election. The parties would likely move relatively quickly to quash such a move.

In reality, the move, like many in politics, is to counter the unintended consequences of a previous change. In November, Arkansas voters passed a constitutional amendment to allow the state legislature to meet annually instead of biennially. Traditionally, the Arkansas General Assembly has met in odd-numbered years only, handling the business of the state between January and May. There have been extra sessions and up until 2000, they were held during the same calendar year as the regular session (since 1987). Since 2000, though, four of the five general assemblies have held these extra sessions in even-numbered years. The amendment basically institutionalizes the extra session, splitting the duties of the legislature into a regular session in odd-numbered years and a session focused on appropriations only in even-numbered years.

What does that have to do with the primary election?

A good question. Whether State Sen. Bill Pritchard (also one of the sponsors of the original amendment) moves forward with proposing a bill to switch the session alignment (regular session in even-numbered years and budget session in odd-numbered years), the May primary for state legislative positions will occur within a couple of weeks of the end of the one of the legislative sessions. That leaves only a small window of time for incumbents to campaign for the election. On top of that, legislators have traditionally eschewed fundraising (due to a self-imposed rule) activities during sessions and for 30 days before and after them. That obviously encompasses the primaries in this case and poses a problem for state legislative incumbents. [Their challengers aren't faced with the same problem.]

The amendment opened up a can of worms in other words. SB 253 is seeking to address the problems state legislators are potentially going to face, but in tandem with the likely repeal of the February presidential primary, that means there are issues with delegate allocation in 2012. And this doesn't even take into account the issues (the strain of a non-stop blitz of work from the summer through the general election in November) local election board officials have with this proposal.

While a post-convention primary seems to have been averted with addition of an amendment for a late July primary for presidential preference, this contest would likely fall outside of the window established by the parties.

Recent Posts:
1980 Presidential Primary Calendar

Arkansas Senate Unanimously Passes Primary Bill

Arkansas Senate Slated to Vote on 2012 Presidential Primary Today

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

1980 Presidential Primary Calendar

January 21: Iowa caucuses (both parties)
January 22: Hawaii Republican caucuses

February 1: Maine Republican caucuses (through March 15)
February 2: Arkansas Republican caucuses
February 4: Wyoming Republican caucuses (through March 5)
February 10: Maine Democratic caucuses
February 26: Minnesota caucuses (both parties), New Hampshire primary

March: Virginia Republican caucuses (through April)
March 4: Massachusetts primary, Vermont primary (beauty contest--no delegates at stake)
March 8: South Carolina Republican primary (party-run)
March 11: Alabama primary, Alaska Democratic caucuses, Florida primary, Georgia primary, Hawaii Democratic caucuses, Oklahoma Democratic caucuses, Washington caucuses (both parties)
March 12: Delaware Democratic caucuses
March 15: Mississippi Democratic caucuses, South Carolina Democratic caucuses, Wyoming Democratic caucuses
March 18: Illinois primary
March 21: North Dakota Republican caucuses
March 22: Virginia Democratic caucuses
March 25: Connecticut primary, New York primary

April 1: Kansas primary, Wisconsin primary
April 5: Louisiana primary, Missouri Republican caucuses (through April 12)
April 7: Oklahoma Republican caucuses
April 12: Arizona Democratic caucuses
April 13: Arizona Republican committee meeting (& caucuses)
April 17: Idaho Democratic caucuses
April 19: Alaska Republican convention (through April 20), North Dakota Democratic caucuses
April 22: Missouri Democratic caucuses, Pennsylvania primary, Vermont caucuses (both parties)
April 26: Michigan Democratic caucuses
April 30: Delaware Republican committee meeting (& caucuses)

May 3: Texas primary (Republicans), Texas Democratic caucuses
May 5: Colorado caucuses (both parties)
May 6: Indiana primary, North Carolina primary, Tennessee primary
May 13: Maryland primary, Nebraska primary
May 19: Utah caucuses (both parties)
May 20: Michigan primary (Republicans), Oregon primary
May 27: Arkansas primary (Democrats), Idaho primary (Republicans), Kentucky primary, Nevada primary

June 3: California primary, Mississippi Republican primary (party-run), Montana primary (Democrats), New Jersey primary, New Mexico primary, Ohio primary, Rhode Island primary, South Dakota primary, West Virginia primary
June 4: Montana Republican caucuses (through June 12)

[Primaries in bold]

States that are split vertically had different dates for different party contests. The shade to the left of that line corresponds with the month in which the Democratic contest took place and the right side represents the Republican contest.

[Source: Congressional Quarterly and news accounts from 1980. The latter was used to double-check the dates or discover missing ones.]

A few notes:
1) This is a classically backloaded calendar. There were 27 states that held primaries in which both parties participated. Of those 27, 15 were held on May 6 or later. If this is expanded to included states where just one party held a primary (either opting into the state-funded primary or holding a party-run contest), the total number of primary states rises to 34. Of those 34, 20 were on or after May 6.
2) The date on which the most contests were held was June 3. Nine states had contests on the first Tuesday in June. However, the second largest collection of nominating contests was during the second week in March. Altogether, seven states held primaries or caucuses on that date; the first early Super Tuesday. Much of this was due to the Carter administration-brokered movement in Alabama and Georgia. The move was made as an effort to give the president a counter to the victories Ted Kennedy could have gotten in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, two and one week earlier, respectively. Those moves were the first conscious frontloading moves by states.
3) The number of intra-state primary/caucus splits between the parties grew compared to 1976. Whereas Montana was the only state with one party opting into the state-funded primary while the other held a caucus in 1976, seven states had such party-based contest divisions in 1980.

Recent Posts:
Arkansas Senate Unanimously Passes Primary Bill

Arkansas Senate Slated to Vote on 2012 Presidential Primary Today

1976 Presidential Primary Calendar