Friday, January 3, 2014

Christie's Primary Map May Be the Same as Romney's, But the Order of the Primaries Won't Be.

Dave Catanese over at The Run 2016 has this to say:
With the first four states likely to keep their pecking order, Christie’s team may just adopt the same mindset.  Must wins in New Hampshire and Nevada, with Iowa and South Carolina as only icing. 
The main difference would be Florida, a primary that could be rendered mostly meaningless if one of its homestate contenders jumps into the race. If say, Sen. Marco Rubio is a candidate, then South Carolina may become demonstrably more vital to Christie.
FHQ does not disagree here on the basic campaign strategic point. On the surface, Christie's strategy would theoretically be the same as Romney's. Win in New Hampshire and Nevada, take what you can get in Iowa and South Carolina and win Florida. FHQ has hinted at as much stretching back into primary season 2012.

And Mr. Catanese is absolutely correct that a home state candidate from the Sunshine state -- whether Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush -- upsets the calculus some for the latent presidential campaign of the New Jersey governor.

But here's the thing: We don't know if that is going to be the order of those contests. FHQ is reasonably confident that the four carve-out states will retain their positions with perhaps minimal pressure from any rogue states. FHQ is also fairly confident that Florida will not be one of those states pushing the carve-outs in 2016. However, given the new law scheduling the Florida presidential primary, Florida is also not likely to hold down the fifth position on the calendar as it did in 2012. Right now that distinction belongs to Arizona and Michigan.1

The situation in Florida -- the scheduling of the primary -- is conditional. The Sunshine state will conduct a presidential primary election on the first date in which there are no penalties assessed by the national parties. Many are interpreting that as the first Tuesday in March (March 1, 2016). But that misses one other highly relevant point. Florida avoids the timing penalty by holding a March primary, but there is also the matter of the proportionality window in the Republican rules.

Recall that Florida has stuck with a true winner-take-all allocation of its delegates. If the Republican Party of Florida continues with that practice in 2016, the new law would push the presidential primary in the Sunshine state back to the third Tuesday in March according to the proposed penalty structure likely to emerge from the RNC rules subcommittee reexamining the rules. Now, Florida Republicans could merely take the 50% delegate reduction associated with a violation of the proportionality requirement and go on March 1, but that is not what the law says. If Florida Republicans value the presidential primary as a means of allocating delegates, they would have to utilize the state-funded option that is administered by the (secretary of) state and follows the law.

…on March 15, 2016 along with the Illinois primary.

Arizona and Michigan now occupy the fifth position on the 2016 presidential primary calendar and are the biggest threats to the carve-out states. Florida will play a role, but it will likely be on or two weeks after Super Tuesday. That's different from Romney's map. Like Romney, Christie would like to and likely have to do well in Arizona and Michigan as springboards into Super Tuesday the next week. Christie would also need to employ a similar Super Tuesday strategy to the former Massachusetts governor: rack up wins and delegates outside the South while peeling off as many as possible delegates in the South.

That's what makes the method of allocation Texas Republicans adopt for 2016 so important. Remember "proportionality" on the Republican side isn't mathematical proportionality. There are a number of ways to get there.

1 And that assumes Colorado, Minnesota and Utah do not opt into early February dates for their respective caucuses, caucuses and primary. It also assumes that Missouri either moves its primary back or once again adopts caucuses as a means of allocating delegates. North Carolina is newly rogue as well. …but for how long?

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