Thursday, May 7, 2015

Let's Talk About the Primary Calendar and the Republican Nomination Race

Maggie Haberman at First Draft this morning:
After the 2012 election, the Republican National Committee changed the voting calendar to try and avoid repeats of the brutal and long-lasting fight between Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, and former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. 
The previous calendar – Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, followed by Florida — no longer exists. Instead, a slew of states moved up their votes to March 1, before Florida’s vote. Such compression, and so many candidates, could produce the opposite effect of what was intended, prolonging both the duration and the intensity of the process. 
That means that Florida, which is crucial to its former governor, Jeb Bush, and to a current senator, Marco Rubio, might not be the same firewall as in previous years. That raises the significance of South Carolina and the others states that vote before Florida’s contest on March 15.
FHQ wants to focus on that second paragraph. The set up is fine. The RNC, after what they perceived to be an injurious 2012 presidential nomination fight, tweaked the party's delegate selection rules, compressing the calendar and tightening the proportionality requirement. The goal: speed up the nomination.

But that's when the wheels fall off for Haberman.

First of all the previous calendar did not follow a sequence of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada and Florida. Florida's move into late January for the 2012 cycle triggered a turf war between New Hampshire and Nevada that ended with the Silver state caucusing after Florida in early February.

Sure, that is something of a minor point. But sequence matters and the sequence is wrong in Habermas's piece.

The bigger issue is looking forward to the 2016 calendar. This idea that a "slew of states" has moved up to March 1 is just not right. A slew of delegates maybe, but not a slew of states; not yet anyway. Texas is back where it should have been on the calendar in 2012: the first Tuesday in March. But a dispute over redistricting in the Lone Star state forced that contest back to May 29. That is a significant movement of delegates from the end of the calendar to up near the front of the queue. But that is not a slew of states. The only other state that is new to the first Tuesday in March for 2016 is Minnesota. The shift in the case of the North Star state was a shift back relative to 2012. Four years ago, Minnesota Republicans held one of those non-binding caucuses that Rick Santorum won on the heels of the Nevada caucuses.

Look, sequence matters. More importantly, the states that comprise that sequence affects the course of a nomination race (maybe not its outcome, but certainly the path the nominee takes to the nomination). This story right now is basically Texas and its 150+ delegates is much earlier in 2016 and Florida set a date that is not right after South Carolina. That is not without consequence.

Follow FHQ on TwitterGoogle+ and Facebook or subscribe by Email.

No comments: