Tag Archives: Caucus

More Than Polls and Campaigns

Aug. 4, 2015 — Just after the first two 2016 presidential debates, the media coverage will undoubtedly center on the candidates and the plethora of public polls that will test public response.  But, there is another important process facet that won’t receive any attention: the voting schedule and delegate allocation.

As the campaign now begins to unfold in earnest, it is clear that the Democratic nomination is headed Hillary Clinton’s way.  Though she has serious flaws as a national candidate, her weaknesses are not a particular factor before her own party’s electorate.

National polls consistently show her barely ahead of several Republican candidates, and having major problems convincing the general electorate of her honesty, trustworthiness, and whether she cares about the average voter.  Yet, these negatives do not appear to be dissuading the Democratic primary voters.

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Kentucky Action for Paul;
Without Hillary?

Kentucky Senate

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.
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Next Steps for the 2016 Presidential Election: Delegates & Timing

A year from now, we will be fast approaching the initial Iowa Caucus vote, but much remains to be decided before the first voters cast their ballots in the 2016 presidential contest. Most of the uncompleted tasks involve delegate allocation and scheduling.

Today, it appears the Democrats will have 4,508 voting delegates at their national convention, which will likely occur either during the week of July 25th or Aug. 22nd. The Democratic National Committee has narrowed their convention site to three possibilities: New York City, Philadelphia and Columbus, OH. Republicans look to be gearing up for their convention during the week of July 18th, and they have already decided upon Cleveland as their gathering site. The total GOP delegate universe will be a much smaller 2,409.

Each party’s nomination rules will go a long way toward determining the respective presidential contenders, particularly on the Republican side. Though the Democratic delegate allocation formula (by state) is very complex, their voting process is simpler. Thirty-seven states will employ a proportional allocation structure based upon primary votes cast, while 18 more will meet in a caucus/state convention system. One state, Texas, will use a combined caucus and proportional primary program, and one final entity, Michigan, will assign all of its delegates to the winning primary candidate in a Winner-Take-All format.
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Romney Squeaks by in Maine

Mitt Romney won a close Maine caucus victory over Ron Paul over the weekend, edging the Texas congressman 39-36 percent – a margin of just 196 votes. Rick Santorum, fresh from his sweep of the non-binding Missouri primary and Colorado and Minnesota caucuses, only managed 18 percent. Newt Gingrich was fourth with 6 percent.

Turnout for the Maine caucuses was typically small. Only 5,585 people participated, but that number is actually higher than 2008; four years ago 5,431 people attended the Republican caucuses.

Romney and Paul will likely come away from this latest presidential nominating contest with eight delegates apiece. Santorum appears to have notched four and Gingrich one. Three at-large party delegates remain uncommitted. As in most caucus states, the delegates will be officially apportioned at the district and state party convention, which, for Maine, will be held over the May 5-6 weekend.

The results underscore Santorum’s fundamental campaign problem. Due to a lack of resources that prevent him from organizing in all of the states, the former Pennsylvania senator has been unable to capitalize on his strong performance in Iowa, and then in the three venues last week. This flaw likely costs him the ability to overtake Romney. In fact, the financial and organizational advantages Romney possesses likely will be enough to outlast all others in the field.

The campaigns now move onto the Arizona and Michigan primaries, which are scheduled for Feb. 28.

Why Third-Place Matters

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney appears poised to win a convincing victory tonight in the Florida Republican presidential primary and, barring future delegate certification challenges before the Republican National Convention, will claim all 50 delegates being apportioned in the state in winner-take-all fashion.

Eight different polls, all conducted during a period beginning Jan. 27 or later, give Mr. Romney leads of between 5 and 25 percentage points, and in all but two of those polls he wins by double digits. Each poll has former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in second place and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum either in third or tied for third with Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX-14).

But it is how Santorum performs that may be the most interesting part of tonight’s result. Since the polls all show him posting between 9 and 12 points, a stronger performance will reveal further conservative dissatisfaction with Romney. Further right-of-center voters fleeing Gingrich – as his roller coaster campaign now begins to slide downward again – and heading toward Santorum looks to be a very real possibility. Should this occur, the Pennsylvanian, who spent little money in Florida, would head to Nevada with some new wind at his back, particularly if Romney again wins with only a plurality of support.

Such a finish would again lend credence to the theory that a uniting of conservatives behind one candidate could still see that candidate overtake Romney. Failure for that scenario to take place likely nominates Romney at least by the time most primaries and caucuses conclude at the end of April, if not sooner.