2016 Primary Calendar Maneuvers

It’s never too early to begin maneuvering to the front of the line. Legislation filed in Nevada would create a Presidential primary (right now they have a caucus) in mid-January. The caucuses would not be abolished, but would serve for choosing delegate bound to the primary winner. Meanwhile, Arizona legislation would move the primary date to coincide with the Iowa Caucus (if Iowa names their caucus date 90 days prior to the caucus). What does it all mean if these bills pass? Quite simple, calendar chaos. Iowa and New Hampshire will have to move up their primaries, and we’re back to the December primary threats. Then whither S. Carolina and Florida? And don’t expect either party to have any control over the process - sanctions or no.

Oh, and don’t leave Texas out of the mix.

(h/t: Frontloading HQ - seriously read this blog).


Arizona Rejects Top Two Primary

A top two primary system was on the November ballot in Arizona and was rejected by the voters (Source).

In a top two primary system, all candidates, regardless of party, are on one ballot, i.e., there is no Republican or Democratic primary - just one primary with all candidates. The top two voter getters will go on to the November election.

The argument in favour of such a system is that it allows more moderate candidates to emerge, as opposed to the trend that appears to occurring in the current primaries where the more extreme candidates may win (Source).

Unfortunately, I have not spent a significant amount of time studying this issue; however, when California passed their version of this system, it was suggested by some that Texas use a top-two primary and I commented on that at the time. Looking at Lousiana, who has used a top-two primary for some time, I found that there were several elections in which two candidates were from the same party.

This seems to be the case in California as well: “Twenty-eight races next month feature two candidates from the same party: 19 Democratic contests, nine Republican. Minor parties are almost completely shut out, surviving in only three races” (Source).

My guess is that you’re not going to see much moderation as a result of this system. Depending on your district, you may see candidates move back to the center after a primary, which is what is happening in some of these elections in California (so not much difference in that regard). When I looked at Louisiana, I did not review voting records to see if any moderation occurred; however, a review of scores from special interests groups could give an idea on that point.

There may be some data/research already existing on this topic and I haven’t found it yet.


Santorum’s Lead and Early Voting

Earlier this week, I posted about Santorum’s lead both nationally and in Michigan. Now he leading in Ohio [3/6] and in 2nd in Arizona [2/28].

As I noted before the Florida primary, early voting is something to keep in mind before we get all giddy about Romney going down in flames. If I’m reading the statute right, Michigan voters could begin requesting absentee ballots 75 days before February 28th. Early voting in Ohio began the same day as the Florida primary.

Romney won early voting in Florida, beating Gingrich to the punch chasing absentee ballots. So far, I have not seen any early voting numbers for these states as with Florida, but I would suspect Romney is following the same strategy as in Florida and chasing those absentee voters, as well as attempting to win the early vote.

It also remains to be seen if Santorum can withstand the onslaught of ads from Romney and his allies, especially in elections across multiple states on the same day, any better than Newt did in Florida.


Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSBlog provides an analysis of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Arizona Free Enterprise Club v. Bennett. It’s a good analysis and summary of the case. I’m still reading the opinion, as well as articles on the ruling, but my first impression is: I’m dismayed that both the majority and minority opinions seem to accept the notion that private funds corrupt candidates (and government in general), whether it’s that subsidies fail to reduce corruption or that Arizona’s system would have succeeded. Perhaps, as a campaign hack, my sensibilities are offended by the idea that my candidate would be corrupted by a contribution (indeed, I’ve worked on campaigns where we have worked to avoid any appearance of corruption - even giving contributions back), but I’ve been reading a lot about campaign finance lately, specifically on the federal level and from what I have seen thus far, there is not much evidence for corruption as a rule with regard to private funding of campaigns. Does it occasionally occur? Sure; we can find the stories about it. We can also find examples where public financing has not stopped actual corruption. As such, I don’t believe that corruption should be accepted as a rule when it comes to private contributions. The other claim is that public financing increases competition. Fortunately, Arizona provides all of the information online about the participants in public financing, which then can be compared to election results and campaign finance reports. I am going to sit down today (I have some free time) and go through this information and work on a post. Overall, I have no ideological stake in this discussion - I want to keep an open mind about the free speech and constitutional issues at stake - but I am skeptical of the effectiveness of public financing of campaigns.