Monday, January 30, 2012

I'll see your white knight and raise you a filing deadline. Why It's Too Late for Entry in the Republican Nomination Race

Way back in the summer (of 2011), FHQ began fielding calls and emails from a number of media outlets asking about the filing deadlines for primaries and caucuses in the various states. It really picked up in late September and into October as some folks in the press continued to, well, press the notion of a late Palin candidacy. From that point onward, the Palin speculation may have dropped off to some extent, but a cottage industry has popped up in the wake of it and proliferated throughout the Republican presidential primary landscape around the notion of late entry. Candidates go up, candidates come down, Romney stays the same and the overall field is weak are among the various catalysts for continued speculation. And when Newt Gingrich won South Carolina (the third winner in three contests), casting some doubt on the ability of Republican primary voters to come to a consensus on any one of the declared candidates, the whirling dervish of late entry speculation spun even faster.

Sure, the naysayers would say, "Well, it is too late. Deadlines have passed. No one else can get in." But that never really stopped the drum beat of late entry. FHQ has been in this latter group, but has been as guilty as others from not having fully dug into the matter. Let's throw some data at the issue. What follows will either put things to rest once and for all that it is too late or embolden those chomping at the bit for another round or future rounds of late entry talk. [Yeah, Bill Kristol, I'm looking at you.]

So, is it possible for another candidate to get in?

Below are the filing deadlines in the remaining states. And hey, because FHQ is feeling generous let us also consider whether those states also allow uncommitteed/no preference slots on the primary ballot -- Voters have the option to vote for uncommitted or no preference on the ballot. -- and/or allow write-in votes. Let's open this door as wide as it will open and look at the delegates at stake in those states. The filing deadlines have passed in the February states, and the list below is of states with March or later contests -- with the exception of Michigan which allows voters to choose "uncommitted". If a state does not appear, all options are closed off to any potential late entrants. [Georgia, for instance, had a deadline 60 prior to the March 6 primary in which the candidate list was set, prohibits the uncommitted line on the ballot and does not allow write-in votes.] Finally, there are also a number of states where none of this information is known. Those states are included in the table only because it isn't known whether those three options have been closed off.

2012 Presidential Primary Filing Deadlines
No Preference
Alaska3/62/4No preference--27
Massachusetts3/61/6No preference41
North Dakota3/6Ballot set 2/12n/an/a28
Virginia3/612/22Bill to allow uncommitted--49
Virgin Islands3/102/10Uncommitted--9
American Samoa3/13n/an/an/a9
Puerto Rico3/181/18n/an/a23
Washington, DC4/31/4Uncommitted--19
Wisconsin4/31/28 1/31Uninstructed42
New York4/242/9Uncommitted1595
Rhode Island4/241/21Uncommitted--19
North Carolina5/83/618Uncommitted--55
West Virginia5/81/28Uncommitted1931
New Jersey6/54/2--50
New Mexico6/53/16----23
South Dakota6/53/27Uncommitted26--28
Source: FEC, state election law, state party rules
1 States included above are those where there is still an option for a candidate not currently declared in the 2012 Republican presidential nomination (ie: filing deadline has not passed, there is an uncommitted or no preference line on the ballot or where write-in is a possibility).
2 Candidates placed on ballot according to who is an announced candidate by February 1. 
3 See Tennessee Code (Title 2, Chapter 13, Part 3).
4 Precinct caucuses begin 2/9. 
5 Candidates who enter race after 2/1 can be given an extension.
6 It is not clear whether there is an "uncommitted" line on the Hawaii caucus ballot. The evidence seems to suggest that only votes for actual declared candidates count. That said, delegates do not not have to commit to any candidate, but if they do that delegate is committed to that candidate -- if still in the race -- through the first ballot at the Republican National Convention. The delegates can go to the convention uncommitted, but it is a different process than is being talked about in the other cases where voters are marking a ballot for "uncommitted".
7 Write-in votes are only counted if they are cast for candidates registered with the FEC.
8 See Mississippi Code (Title 23, Chapter 15, Article 13B).
9 Delegates (or slates of delegates) file at the same time as candidates, but those delegates can file as "uncommitted" and is listed as such on the ballot. However, there is no "uncommitted" list on the presidential preference portion of the ballot.
10 There is no uncommitted line on the Louisiana primary ballot, but delegates may be uncommitted if no candidate receives over 25% of the primary vote. Those delegates would go to the national convention uncommitted. The congressional district delegates automatically go to the national convention unpledged. 
11 Maryland delegates can run as "uncommitted" and be marked that way on the primary ballot if the party requests such of the State Board of Elections. [Maryland Code Title 8, Subtitle 5, 8-501] There is no evidence that the Maryland GOP has made such a request in 2012. The Maryland Secretary of State's office confirmed to FHQ on February 2, 2012 that only the Democratic presidential primary ballot will include an uncommitted line. The Republican primary ballot will not.
12 Write-ins are allowed if a candidate files a certificate of candidacy to run as a write-in candidate. The deadline for that is the earlier of either within a week of filing with the FEC or the Wednesday before the election. [Maryland Code Title 5, Subtitle 3, 5-303]
13 February 1 is the end of the filing period established by the courts in the Texas redistricting case, but any changes to those districts may ultimately affect both the date of the primary and the close of the filing period. On January 27, the February 1 filing deadline was suspended until further order by the San Antonio court
14 Write-in votes are allowed so long as the candidate has registered his or her candidacy with the Connecticut secretary of state.
15 The "uncommitted" line is allowed on the presidential primary ballot in New York so long as the procedures to file -- as if a candidate -- are followed.
16 Delegates (or slates of delegates) file as the presidential candidate and indicate whether they are committed or uncommitted which is in turn listed on the ballot. As is the case on the Illinois ballot, there is no line for "uncommitted" on the presidential preference portion of the ballot.
17 Petitions to file for candidacy in Indiana are due to the secretary of state by January 31.
18 The North Carolina State Board of Elections meets to set the ballot based on a list of candidates provided by the state parties and those candidates having filed by petition by the Monday (3/5/12) preceding the Board meeting.
19 The delegates listed on the West Virginia ballot have their presidential preference (or "uncommitted") listed next to their names on the primary ballot, but their is no "uncommitted" line among the presidential preference portion of the ballot.
20 The Nebraska primary is non-binding. All delegates will be allocated at the July state convention.
21 See Arkansas Code (Title 7, Chapter 8, Section 201).
22 See Arkansas Code (Title 7, Chapter 5, Section 525).
23 Write-ins are not expressly forbidden according to Kentucky code, but the allowance and declaration of intent for are only associated with general elections. Recent past presidential primary elections have also had no write-in votes cast. 
24 Voters can write in anyone on a ballot, but those ballots will only be counted if the candidate voted for has filed as a write-in candidate with the state.
25 Montana has an advisory/non-binding primary on the Republican side. All delegates are selected at the mid-June state convention. 
26 The uncommitted provision in the state law is dependent upon the state parties not having delegate selection rules prohibiting such a designation on the ballot. The South Dakota Republican Party allows uncommitted slates to appear on the ballot

That's 1768 delegates where either the filing deadlines have not passed, uncommitted lines are on or can be added to the ballot or write-in votes are allowed. If the states where not enough information is known (American Samoa, Missouri, Puerto Rico and Wyoming) and those where a deadline has passed and legislation to add an uncommitted line to ballot is under consideration in the state legislature (Virginia) are subtracted from the total, that leaves us with 1606 delegates. However, if we add back in the delegates from the early caucuses where delegates will eventually go to the Tampa convention unbound (Iowa, Maine, Colorado and maybe Minnesota -- see the delegate allocation by state) that adds back up to 128 delegates for 1734 delegates. If the list is constrained more simply to the states where filing deadlines have not passed, the total delegates open to a late entrant drops to 1157. After Tuesday, when Kentucky's (and Indiana's petition -- see footnote 17 above) deadlines pass that total will drop below 1144 to 1066.

No matter how you look at it, then, there are or would be enough delegates for a late entrant to possibly get to 1144, or in the more chaotic, yet more likely late entry (if it were to happen), scenario after Tuesday, earn enough support to keep another candidate from getting there, sending the decision to the convention; a brokered, uh, deadlocked convention.

But here's the thing: Who is that candidate? Let me rephrase that. Who is the candidate who can not only successfully enter the race late, but who can also marshal the organization necessary to cobble together enough delegates to take the nomination or throw enough of a monkeywrench into the process and still maintain support in the party to win the nomination at the convention? Let's think about this for a moment. There are people in this race now actively seeking the nomination (and who have been running for president for quite some time) who cannot get on the ballots in some states. And we are expecting someone to come in and immediately be able to beat these deadlines, organize write-in efforts and uncommitted slates of delegates to get within shouting distance of 1144 or a lower total held by the frontrunner.

I apologize, folks. But I just don't see it. There is no silver bullet. There is no white knight.

...unless someone else's name -- someone other than Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum or Ron Paul -- is put forth at a brokered, uh, deadlocked convention.

Is that possible?


Is that probable?

There is nothing that has happened in the post-reform era (1972-present) that would lead anyone to the conclusion that it is.


Anonymous said...

It's cute that you're so naive. What the Bill Kristols of the world want is a candidate of their liking to jump in just to be in. It doesn't matter that no one should vote for him or that he only qualify for a handful of states. What matters is that he compete. Then they want a brokered convention in Tampa Bay and they think that they will be able to get a candidate that they want, but no one else does.

Anonymous said...

I have only two words to say in response to this post:


He may not be on the ballot, but he is far and away the most popular would-be candidate.

Here is how he will get the nomination:

Mitt or Newt will get the nomination. Then their strategists will tell either of them that Allen West is the best VP pick. So West is picked for VP and they go out on the campaign trail. Then Newt or Mitt has some medical setback and has to withdraw from the race, leaving West to set up in his place.

Possible? Technically.
Probable? Hey, we can dream, can't we?

Anonymous said...

There is only ONE CANDIDATE who can excite and turn out independents,disaffected Democrats and young people enough to beat Obama-RON PAUL!NEWT AND MITT OR stuffy old RINOS!