Tuesday, April 7, 2015

For 2016, Idaho Democrats Opt for March 22 Caucuses

Like Washington, the state legislature in Idaho has been considering the merits of a stand-alone presidential primary during the 2016 cycle. But whereas Washington has a divided legislature, Idaho Republicans control both the legislative and executive branches. To this point in the 2015 state legislative session, that difference has affected how smoothly presidential primary legislation has moved though those bodies. Idaho is now a gubernatorial signature away from a March 8 primary. In Washington state, the state Democratic Party (and Democrats in the legislature) have held up legislation to also move into a March 8 position on the primary calendar. That is mostly due to the fact that, throughout the post-reform era, Washington Democrats have maintained a caucuses/convention system for allocating and selecting delegates to the national convention (even once a primary was established through the state initiative process in 1989).

Idaho Democrats have had a similar tradition over much of that same period. Even with a primary option available to them, Democrats in the Gem state have caucused as a means of indicating their presidential preference. Now that the Idaho Democratic Party has released the draft of their 2016 delegate selection plan, it appears -- just as is the case further west with Washington state Democrats -- as if that tradition will continue.1 The plan outlines the details of a delegate selection process that begins with Tuesday, March 22 county caucuses.

Of note is that the primary election legislation in both Idaho and Washington would align those states' primaries on the same March 8 date. However, Democrats in both states have opted for caucuses in lieu of the (potentially) available primary options. Republicans in Washington and Idaho are attempting to coordinate a regional primary, and Democrats may be trying the same thing with caucuses. But those caucuses will not fall on the same date and will happen with different partners. Whereas Washington Democrats have assembled a March 26 regional caucus with Democrats in Alaska and Hawaii, Idaho Democrats are opting into a potential subregional clustering of contests with Arizona and Utah on March 22.2

That would make for a week of Western primaries and caucuses on the Democratic primary calendar. All would fall into an area on the calendar -- on or after the fourth Tuesday in March -- where the delegations from those states would receive a 15% bonus for putting together regional clusters of primaries or caucuses.

NOTE: FHQ will pencil these dates in on the 2016 presidential primary calendar, but please note that the plans are not finalized and are still subject to change. With very few exceptions, though, the dates in the 2012 draft plans for caucuses states did not change.

1 The above link is to the plan on the Idaho Democratic Party site. FHQ will also keep a version of the plan here.

2 That depends on Arizona Democrats opting into the March 22 state-funded primary and Utah Democrats ironing out the details of their caucuses proposed for the same date.

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Unknown said...

This makes no sense to me. At all. I am an Idaho Dem.
I still have no idea when to caucus or how.

Josh Putnam said...

County caucus locations and other information will be announced on February 15: