Jennifer Jacobs at the Des Moines Register has a rundown on a few things that are on the line in those caucuses tomorrow. Two of them -- points one and four -- have a bearing on the 2016 presidential nominations.
1. The GOP fight over who’s in charge
The central battlefield will be the party leadership elections.
Current party leaders, who view themselves as hard-line conservatives with a liberty movement orientation, try to frame this battle as an ouster attempt by more middle-of-the-road politicos favored by establishment Republicans, including Branstad.
But the coalition of Republicans who want to push aside those leaders represents a broad cross-section of activists, including Christian conservatives, fiscally minded business Republicans and longtime party stalwarts. They say the context has little to do with deep divisions in the party. Instead, it’s about the desire to have a competent, well-oiled party machine that’s laser-focused on wiping out Democrats.
4. The movement to kill the GOP’s Iowa Straw PollReid Wilson at the Washington Post builds a richer story behind Jacobs' point about the fight for control of the leadership apparatus within the Republican Party of Iowa.
The leadership group elected at Tuesday night’s caucuses will decide the fate of this widely criticized summertime Republican Party fundraiser.
Some say the straw poll represents an albatross around the presidential caucuses, which take place five months later. Dave Levinthal, senior political reporter for the Center for Public Integrity, said the straw poll is viewed as a silly sideshow.
“The straw poll did itself few favors in the efficacy department when the gold, silver and bronze went to Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul and Tim Pawlenty,” Levinthal said. Two of the three were out of the race by early January.
One 2012 straw poll write-in candidate, Rick Perry, beat eventual nominee Mitt Romney. The eventual nominee in 2008, John McCain, placed 10th.
“Middle school student council races are often more deliberative,” Levinthal said.
Both pieces are well worth a read.
One quibble with Wilson's discussion of the delegate selection process the Republican Party of Iowa will use in 2016. The characterization of the process from Wilson (emphasis FHQ's):
Expanding turnout at precinct caucuses is important to Branstad and to presidential candidates who will run in two years, because the caucus process extends long beyond January. Delegates selected on caucus night head to county conventions, then district conventions, the state convention and, finally, in a presidential year, the Republican National Convention, where they cast votes for a presidential candidate of their choosing.Now, in the past, this sequence of events has been the standard operating procedure within the RPI caucuses/convention system: precinct caucuses, county conventions, district conventions, state convention, followed by the national convention. Delegates are chosen at each level to move on to the next successive step. But the wheels come off -- at least relative to how things will be in 2016 -- once that final sentence gets to that last clause.
The sequence of events will likely be the same, but due to a change in the delegate selection rules now in place for Republican nomination process (via the Republican National Committee), the Republican delegates from Iowa will not be able to "vote for a presidential candidate of their choosing," as Wilson indicates. The change -- the addition for 2016, really -- in question is to Rule 16.a.1-2:
(a) Binding and Allocation.(1) Any statewide presidential preference vote that permits a choice among candidates for the Republican nomination for President of the United States in a primary, caucuses, or a state convention must be used to allocate and bind the state’s delegation to the national convention in either a proportional or winner-take-all manner, except for delegates and alternate delegates who appear on a ballot in a statewide election and are elected directly by primary voters.
(2) The Secretary of the Convention shall faithfully announce and record each delegate’s vote in accordance with the delegate’s obligation under these rules, state law or state party rule. If any delegate bound by these rules, state party rule or state law to vote for a presidential candidate at the national convention demonstrates support under Rule 40 for any person other than the candidate to whom her or she is bound, such support shall not be recognized. Except as provided for by state law or state party rule, no presidential candidate shall have the power to remove a delegate.Most of this language was added in Tampa at the 2012 Republican National Convention, but some of it was modified at the Spring 2013 RNC meeting in Los Angeles. The bulk of the changes were added to tamp down on the shenanigans some within the RNC saw coming from the Ron Paul backers in 2012. Essentially, delegates are now bound -- something that was a point of contention in Tampa and at the LA meeting in 2013 -- based on any statewide election. Presumably, this would include precinct caucuses in Iowa and other states that formerly used and/or allowed for unbound delegates to go to the national convention. Part two of the rule takes matters a step further by preventing would-be rogue delegates from attempting to cast a convention vote for a candidate other than the one to whom they are bound. The delegate votes are announced and recorded in accordance with how the delegates were bound based on the statewide step -- precinct caucuses -- of the process.
One thing is for sure: The RPI leadership that emerges from the 2014 caucuses will have some effect on the the rules that the party adopts for the delegate selection process in 2016. Stated differently, said leadership will shape the state party reaction to the RNC rules.