Tuesday, June 10, 2008

2008 Primary and Caucus Grades, Part Two

Yesterday FHQ began a look back at the effectiveness of state's moving their delegate selection events for the 2008 cycle. Today that examination continues with the next ten states alphabetically.

The basic grading criteria are as follows
1) Did the state move between 2004 and 2008?
2) Did the state change contest types (caucus to primary or vice versa)?
3) Did the state's contest influence the Democratic/Republican nomination in any significant way?
4) Was the state's contest one among many (ie: on Super Tuesday) or by itself (ie: Pennsylvania)?
If a state moved (or did not) and/or was influential in deciding the nominees in each part, the state's grade will be higher.

2004 Date/contest type: 2-24-04/caucus (Dem.)
2008 Date/contest type: 2-19-08/caucus (Dem.)--5-15-08/caucus (GOP)
Dem. Influence: Obama claims at least 37 states as one of his home states. This one though is toward the top of that list. Clinton focused much of her efforts on Wisconsin that week and ceded the Aloha state to Obama.
GOP Influence: Do you recall Hawaii holding a caucus during the weekend between West Virginia and Kentucky/Oregon? I don't either.
Contest Company: Wisconsin
Grade: C-
Comments: Hawaii is just to far away to get too terribly much candidate attention. And when the contest is either dominated by a native or falls after the point at which the nomination has been decided, that's a recipe for disaster.

2004 Date/contest type: 2-24-04/caucus (Dem.)
2008 Date/contest type: 2-5-08/caucus (Dem.)--5-27-08/primary (GOP)
Dem. Influence: Like Alaska and the other caucus states of Super Tuesday, Idaho gets a bump (retrospectively) for being a part of the caucus bump that propelled Obama to the Democratic nomination. The Gem state was largely ignored at the time, but being a piece of that organizational triumph for the Illinois senator's campaign is a plus.
GOP Influence: Do you remember the Idaho primary on the Tuesday between Kentucky/Oregon and Montana/South Dakota? I don't either.
Contest Company: Super Tuesday (Dem.)--Stand-alone contest (GOP)
Grade: B-
Comments: Idaho was a valuable part of the caucus strategy that the Obama campaign employed but fell on a date after which the GOP nomination had been decided. Not holding their events simultaneously hurt Idaho's already minuscule chances of influencing the outcome of the nominations.

2004 Date/contest type: 3-16-04/primary
2008 Date/contest type: 2-5-08/primary
Dem. Influence: At the time, the Illinois legislature moving the state's primary was seen as a boost for Obama in light of New York and New Jersey having already moved to Super Tuesday. The Land of Lincoln was seen as a contest that could help secure some delegates and keep him alive following Super Tuesday. He needed those delegates from his home state, but not necessarily for the reason the legislature may have thought.
GOP Influence: It wasn't a winner-take-all primary but a 54-3 trouncing (via a Loophole Primary) of Romney handed McCain quite a big prize on Super Tuesday.
Contest Company: Super Tuesday
Grade: B+
Comments: A big delegate prize on Super Tuesday, Illinois helped send both McCain and Obama off toward their nominations. Obama's home state status detracts from the grade slightly, but like California, we're talking about a delegate-rich state here.

2004 Date/contest type: 5-4-04/primary
2008 Date/contest type: 5-6-08/primary
Dem. Influence: A tight contest with the nomination on the line. Clinton edged Obama, but Indiana got a rare dose of the spotlight on the Democratic side.
GOP Influence: There was a lot of Clinton/Obama talk but very little about McCain.
Contest Company: North Carolina
Grade: A
Comments: Doing nothing about moving the Hoosier state's primary for 2008 certainly didn't hurt. If I were making the decisions in Indiana (and I'm not), I wouldn't bet on lightning striking again in 2012. In fact, as early as this past January, at least one Indiana state legislator said she was going to propose legislation during the 2009 session to move the state's primary for 2012. For the Republicans, Indiana was business as usual; the nomination has already been wrapped up.

2004 Date/contest type: 1-19-04/caucus
2008 Date/contest type: 1-3-08/caucus
Dem. Influence: The one that started it all made a viable candidate out of one Illinois senator and began to cast light on the cracks in the Clinton camp's armor.
GOP Influence: McCain did better than he did in 2000 and Huckabee got a win that helped sustain him through Super Tuesday and into March.
Contest Company: Stand-alone contest
Grade: A
Comments: Being first (and staying there) has its advantages.

2004 Date/contest type: 3-13-04/caucus (Dem.)
2008 Date/contest type: 2-5-08/caucus (Dem.)--2-9-08/caucus (GOP)
Dem. Influence: Another Super Tuesday caucus in another Obama home state. Kansas, like those other caucus states, provided the Illinois senator with much of the final delegate margin and was, as a result, consequential to the outcome.
GOP Influence: Along with Louisiana on the same day, Kansas was among the last of the Huckabee wins. After the squabble over the Washington caucus tally on the same day, Huckabee was never the same. Kansas was a part of the voting block that cast doubt on McCain's ability to woo Christian conservatives.
Contest Company: Super Tuesday (Dem.)--Louisiana and Washington (GOP)
Grade: B+
Comments: After the state legislature failed to pass a plan instituting a primary, both state parties did well to move their contests into the window of decisiveness.

2004 Date/contest type: 5-25-04/primary
2008 Date/contest type: 5-20-08/primary
Dem. Influence: Kentucky, along with West Virginia, pointed out the white Appalachia problem Obama has. Clinton's win in the Bluegrass state made all the more poignant her argument that she would be the better general election candidate because of the blocs of voters she could bring to the Democrats.
GOP Influence: Ho hum. Another post-Ohio/Texas contest that ceded attention to the Democrats.
Contest Company: Oregon
Grade: B-
Comments: Though Kentucky was a foregone conclusion, it was still influential in its position late in the process. Like Indiana, this was a case where doing nothing actually paid off.

2004 Date/contest type: 3-9-04/primary
2008 Date/contest type: 2-9-08/primary
Dem. Influence: As was the case in other states across the deep South, heavy African American turnout pushed Obama over the top in the Pelican state's primary.
GOP Influence: This was one of the last hurrahs for the Huckabee campaign. Another regional win that questioned how well McCain would be able to motivate evangelicals in the fall.
Contest Company: Kansas, Nebraska (Dem.) and Washington
Grade: B+
Comments: Like Alabama or Georgia, Louisiana was a state that witnessed Obama and Huckabee wins simultaneously. Unlike those two, Louisiana moved its primary to a weekend date with a trio of caucuses. Instead of being lost in the shuffle, the Pelican state enjoyed a bit more exposure than its neighbors to the east.

2004 Date/contest type: 2-8-04/caucus (Dem.)
2008 Date/contest type: 2-10-08/caucus (Dem.)--2-3-08/caucus (GOP)
Dem. Influence: This was another caucus win for Obama, but one in an older state demographically, which should have favored Clinton. The Clinton camp was also beginning to see the Obama caucus strategy.
GOP Influence: After McCain's win in Florida, Romney came back with a win in nearby Maine (nearby Massachusetts, where he had been governor). The win did little to help him going into Super Tuesday, though.
Contest Company: Stand-alone contests
Grade: C
Comments: Sunday contests set Maine apart from all the other states. The results, though, did little to move the needle. Romney and Obama continued to excel in caucuses. For a small state, Maine did well to hold stand-alone contests that would maximize what would still be minimal coverage, but an increase over past years.

2004 Date/contest type: 3-2-04/primary
2008 Date/contest type: 2-12-08/primary
Dem. Influence: Maryland continued the post-Super Tuesday streak for Obama. His resounding wins in all three Potomac primary states lifted the Illinois senator to his peak during primary season.
GOP Influence
: McCain's win moved Huckabee into "believe in miracles not math" mode. It was the beginning of the end for the former Arkansas governor in demographically hostile territory (save western Virginia).
Contest Company: One third of the Potomac Primary (DC and VA)
Grade: B+
Comments: The state government in Maryland was smart (Ha! Hindsight is 20/20) to pull away from Super Tuesday for the first time since 1984 when the Old Line state still held a May primary. Coordinating their efforts with the primaries in Virginia and DC on the same day was beneficial in focusing the week's agenda on the that subregion.

By and large, the grades for this group of states is higher than those of the states examined yesterday. Having Iowa and states with contest dates other than Super Tuesday helps though. Being first helps as does holding a contest on a less crowded week or weekend. It isn't uncommon for caucuses to be conducted on the weekend, but it will be interesting to see if, barring any reform measure, other states follow Louisiana's lead and move their primaries to the weekend in 2012. I suspect that we'll witness a return to the types of campaigns that we saw in 2000 or 2004 in 2012. In other words, the nomination(s) will be decided on Super Tuesday. That will likely be the first Tuesday in February again; the earliest allowable date to hold a delegate selection event. It will be difficult for states to move ahead of that point simply because of fear of becoming another Florida or Michigan. The plan that recently failed in Kansas would have established a primary and scheduled it for the weekend prior to Super Tuesday in 2012. That provision wasn't why it failed, but it is noteworthy that some states have taken notice of the Louisiana move in 2008.

Up next: Massachusetts through New Jersey.

Recent Posts:
2008 Primary and Caucus Grades, Part One

A Big Thanks to Demconwatch

Texas Caucus Final Tally: ?% of the Caucus Vote, 57% of the Caucus Delegates

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