Two more questions about a December NH primary

I have two questions about the possibility of a December NH primary:

  1. Can candidates collect matching funds for that? What are the mechanics of that? When do they actually get the money? It is clear that John McCain has more than enough money to compete if he takes matching funds. But when would they actually arrive?
  2. Mitt Romney’s fear was succeeding in Iowa and foundering in New Hampshire, stalling or reversing his momentum. But, that fear is gone under this schedule. But it arises for a bunch of other people. Who? How bad? Isn’t Romney the big winner here?

Consequences of a December NH primary?

There have been whispers for a while that there could be a December primary. Roger Simon now argues that it is increasingly likely that there could be a December 11th primary in New Hampshire.

On the Democratic side, that seems to favor Hillary Clinton. She is up some silly amount in NH. She is +20 in NH. A little momentum going into Iowa can’t hurt. This reduces the odds of a successful Barack Obama resurgence.

On the GOP side, this opens up the game much, much more. Mitt Romney was hoping to boomerang with Iowa. But, in RCP, Romney is only +4%. While his organization is either the best or second best. (behind John McCain)  Who finishes first may well come down to a crap shoot between McCain, Romney, and Rudy Giuliani.  It seems unlikely that Fred Thompson will be a first-tier competitor in New Hampshire. That means that he will be competing with, perhaps, Mike Huckabee for fourth.

Can Huckabee survive a 5th place finish? Could Thompson survive a 4th?

I have recommended that McCain and Giuliani skip Iowa. Is there similar advice for Thompson and Huckabee in New Hampshire?

What happens to Romney if he were to come in 2nd or 3rd?

If New Hampshire is first, do independents vote for Democrats? Less likely if Iowa comes first, and Clinton wins it. Then Obama might well drop out.

Ron Paul’s supporters aren’t Republicans

A standard question is "who is actually supporting Ron Paul?" There has been an assumption that the answer is "not Republicans", but there isn’t always evidence. Then I was reminded of this when a comment was left on a video of Mike Huckabee putting the smack-down on Ron Paul. The recent comment said:

If you support Ron Paul, understand that you MUST REGISTER TO VOTE REPUBLICAN. The cut off in most states is the middle of this month. That is only a couple of days away. It is CRITICAL that if you want Ron Paul to be our next President, you MUST vote for him in the Primaries, and therefore MUST register to vote Republican. To do so and to get this man into the Presidential Election, simply go to gopdotcom and take a few seconds to Register To Vote Republican TODAY. Thank You!

Then, of course, there is the 2nd banner on Ron Paul’s site. (banner URL here)

Yup. The Ron Paul team is campaigning to non-Republicans to change registration… Awesome.

IA GOP: 1/3; IA Dems: 1/5

Marc Ambinder has the story.  It seems to me that there are some real consequences to this.

First, doesn’t an exciting win (say Mike Huckabee or Fred Thompson) or a blowout by Mitt Romney get buzz-killed by the probably-more-interesting Democratic race? Is one real day of news about the GOP race going to be enough?

Second, doesn’t the Dem caucus being on a Saturday fundamentally change who shows up? Doesn’t Barack Obama have a "turn out the kids" strategy on a Saturday afternoon that you just can’t do on a Tuesday night? And isn’t union turnout higher?

Calendar implications; Iowa less important?

Jan. 5: Iowa caucuses both parties
Jan. 8 New Hampshire primary both parties
Jan. 12 Nevada caucuses both parties
Jan. 15 Michigan GOP primary; Dem beauty contest
Jan. 19 South Carolina primary both parties
Jan. 29 Florida GOP primary; Dem beauty contest

Marc Ambinder reports the schedule.

The most interesting thing that I saw was 3 days between Iowa and New Hampshire. Is that going to dampen the effect of (presumably) Romney’s Iowa win. Candidates are just going to move straight to New Hampshire, and there will be little chance for people to see much impact. With three days to go, people in New Hampshire are going to be making their minds before Iowa.

The same thing applies to Nevada, but I am not sure that anyone is really going to care about Nevada anyways.

States will get full delegates

Somehow, I am not all that impressed by the fight over the national parties stripping delegates from state parties who will have primaries prior to Feb. 5th.

Last week, the story was Florida and the Democrats. This week, it appears to be the Republicans and Florida, South Carolina, and New Hampshire.

How long will it take for all the candidates to commit their delegates to voting for seating full delegations?

This is a problem in theory, but not in practice.

Implications of Michigan’s calendar actions

Chuck Todd has the main story:

According to sources inside both parties, the two state parties in Michigan have agreed to move the state’s primary — legislatively — to Jan. 15. This is a compromise date out of respect for Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, who really wanted to move the primary to Jan. 8. Others wanted the primary on Jan. 22 as a way to, essentially, play ball with the other early states. There was a nice window being created for a Jan. 22, 2008 event. But by moving to Jan. 15, this will put pressure on the other early states to either entertain a December event or lobby the two national parties to not sanction Michigan at all.

There are several implications to this. First, the GOP convention seems to be off the table. Given the early work, there was a real possibility that the convention was going to lock out signficant delegates for anyone either than John McCain or Mitt Romney. Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson can play in this environment.

Second, I think that this helps Sam Brownback. There is a significant conservative Catholic contingent in the state party and institutions with Ave Maria Law, etc. If the (open) primary draws mostly Republicans, under the theory that Obama gets the independents (although I suspect that this may not apply to Michigan), then Brownback’s in-state organization will be significant.

Third, if Romney really wins New Hampshire and Iowa, he may be able to play to home state advantage, although a recent poll had him in 5th in Michigan.  At the same time, McCain is still very popular in Michigan and has run — and won — a lean race here before.

Fourth, and this is in many ways the most important, this blows up the whole fraud of the calendars being negotiated by the national parties. As Todd points out:

Bottom line: Michigan holding its primary on Jan. 15 means New Hampshire’s window to hold a primary has been moved up further to Jan. 8. And then there’s Iowa, who now could face a decision to let New Hampshire leap frog it or somehow go 2-3 days before New Hampshire (say, on Sat. Jan. 5) or in December — something the governor of Iowa said he didn’t want to do.

Interestingly, the three major swing regions in America are now represented in the current schedule: upper-midwest (Iowa, probably Dec. 2007 now), rust belt (Michigan, Jan. 15), southwest (Nevada, Jan 19th). Florida, the swing super-state is on the 29th. While this clearly wasn’t intended, there is a certain post-hoc logic to the calendar as emerged.

The upshot is probably that the national parties are going to roll over and take whatever comes their way. Look for special waivers at the next DNC meeting. And the question will simply be so old that it won’t be addressed at the RNC. (noting that there’s a slightly weird procedure for bringing up credentials challenges on this question at the RNC) Unless, of course, the convention is contested, which is a whole different ball of wax.

Iowa in December?

At least the weather will be better. But that’s what the WSJ is telling us:

South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson will join with New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner tomorrow morning to announce that both states are moving up their presidential primary dates earlier into January, according to a prominent South Carolina Republican who spoke with Dawson this week. That likely will force Iowa — always protective of its party caucuses as the first-in-the-nation nominating contests — to make good on its vow to move their date from next Jan. 14 into pre-Christmas December.

I’ve been saying this for a while. Details:

New Hampshire tentatively had planned to have its first-in-the-nation primaries on Jan. 22, eight days after Iowa’s caucuses. South Carolina Republicans had planned to hold primaries on Feb. 2. Dawson told his fellow Republican that South Carolina’s would be at least 10 days before Florida’s Jan. 29 primaries, but not on the same day as Nevada’s caucuses, which are Jan. 19, and 12 days after New Hampshire’s primary.

That suggests New Hampshire will be moving into the first week of January. Iowa would then be certain to move up from Jan. 14. To avoid getting caught in the holiday period, Iowans have said the caucuses would have to be in mid-December.

Don’t stop electoral college reform in California!

Redstate’s Erick Erickson noted yesterday that the electoral college reform in North Carolina stopped because because Howard Dean realized it would give them no feet to stand on in California:

The measure raced through the North Carolina State Senate, the State House was preparing to pass it and the Governor was prepared to sign it, until Howard Dean intervened.

All is good, right? Nope. Reread that carefully and note below:

There is a similar measure out in California, which would guarantee the GOP candidate about 20 votes. The Dems cannot honestly oppose that effort if they support the one in North Carolina. So they aborted the North Carolina measure.

So, all stop on the Electoral College reforms. The Dems don’t want a Republican candidate to get any votes out of California.

The Dems could restart this in what? 24 hours? What if they do that in September of 2008? Therefore, the California initiative has to continue to keep the Dems honest. (unlikely I know…)

Perhaps it should be on the November 2008 ballot just to keep things clear. (although that reduces chances for passing. Perhaps both June and November ballots…)