The Kentucky Republican Party Executive Committee members just did Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) a big favor. The panel is recommending that the full GOP state committee change the Blue Grass State’s presidential nominating format from a primary to a caucus.
The move would help Sen. Paul because, at least in the short term, it would allow him to simultaneously seek re-election and run for president. But, selling this to the state convention delegates (they meet in August) might not be so easy, since a negative ramification could result from adopting such a change.
Under Kentucky law, an individual may not appear on the ballot for two offices in the same election. By switching to a caucus format, no state ballot would be involved because the caucuses are comprised of an internal party series of meetings and does not involve the state election system.
The Kentucky Republican Party problem comes if Sen. Paul were to win the presidential nomination. At that point, he would have to remove himself from the ballot for the Senate race. Under Kentucky election procedure, the party would then have no legal mechanism to replace him, meaning a statewide Senate campaign with no official Republican nominee. This presumably means the party would have to run a long-shot write-in campaign on behalf of Paul’s indirect party replacement.
Obviously, this scenario would give the Democrats a huge advantage, so a majority of convention members might not agree to change the presidential nomination system. With Senate control possibly hanging in the balance during the 2016 election, handing over to the Democratic nominee a Republican seat in virtually uncontested fashion may not be a risk the majority of GOP state committee members are willing to assume, especially when Kentucky’s senior senator, Mitch McConnell, is the Majority Leader.
Additionally, the opponents of change would argue, Democratic Senate recruitment would spike on the chance that the eventual nominee could conceivably win with minimal opposition. Therefore, the opposition delegates could reasonably argue, the action needlessly risks what should be a relatively safe Republican seat.
Though the Executive Committee move greatly helps Sen. Paul, there is still no guarantee the full state committee will adopt their recommendation.
Taking into account the news flap surrounding Hillary Clinton’s private email server, Rasmussen Reports (March 8-9; 1,000 likely voters, nationally; undisclosed number of Democratic primary voters) tested the national electorate to see where the chips might fall if the former Secretary of State and First Lady decides not to enter the presidential fray.
According to the data, 75 percent of the entire respondent universe believes it likely that she will be the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee. Asked of an undisclosed number of self-identified Democrats within the sampling cell, 88 percent said they believe she will be the party standard bearer in the next general election.
On the ballot test not including Clinton, again asked of the self-identified Democrats, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren placed first with 31 percent, followed closely by Vice Pres. Joe Biden’s 30 percent preference. Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT), who is toying with the idea of entering the Democratic presidential primaries, places third but with just seven percent support. Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb scores six percent, and ex-Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley finishes last with only two percent.
The ballot test results are questionable because we don’t know how many people participated. Just calculating that roughly 44 percent of the sampling universe – consistent with how the parties divide nationally – identifies with the Democratic Party, then approximately 440 people would have been questioned. This is too small of a sample in which to draw a significant national conclusion and could explain, for example, why Biden is performing substantially better in this poll than on other similar surveys.