Yes, Canceling Primaries

This morning it was a question, this afternoon is a done deal in three states.

The AP Reports: Nevada, SC, Kansas GOP drop presidential nomination votes.

Republican leaders in Nevada, South Carolina and Kansas have voted to scrap their presidential nominating contests in 2020, erecting more hurdles for the long-shot candidates challenging President Donald Trump.

[…]

A spokesman for the South Carolina Republican Party, Joe Jackson, confirmed that the state party voted Saturday against holding a presidential primary next year. A similar move followed in Nevada, where party spokesman Keith Schipper said, “The vote to opt out of the caucus has passed. We will vote to endorse and bind the delegates to the President at a later date.”

In Kansas, the state GOP tweeted on Friday that it will not organize a caucus “because President Trump is an elected incumbent from the Republican Party.” Its state committee planned to approve rules for an “internal party process” for selecting convention delegates, according to Kelly Arnold, the party’s former state chairman, and Helen Van Etten, a member of the Republican National Committee.

And so what was a question when I wrote this morning is now reality in three states. My analysis and views can be found here: Canceling Primaries?

I will reiterate that this is unusual and is clearly an attempt to forestall any negative consequences of the quixotic campaigns of Joe Walsh and William Weld.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. mike shupp says:

    Oh goody! Can we give LBJ a second chance in New Hampshire now?

  2. Modulo Myself says:

    This is all about Trump having dementia and the GOP knowing that he has it and not caring. Anyone who thinks that only a few primaries will be cancelled is kidding themselves. He’s unfit to debate another person right now. I imagine the media knows this too, but they’re terrified of saying it.

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  3. CSK says:

    Too bad. I’d love to watch Trump debate a cool, perpetually amused WASP blueblood like Weld.

  4. Kathy says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    I’m not so sure about that. The RNC doesn’t have to schedule any debates, primaries or no primaries. And there’s really no way to avoid having a debate with whomever the Democratic nominee happens to be.

  5. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    And there’s really no way to avoid having a debate with whomever the Democratic nominee happens to be.

    I wouldn’t bet money on this anymore than I would have bet on @Teve’s wager about Trump, Alabama, and hurricanes two days ago. Stand by to watch the GOP try to stick the landing on a quintuple axel next year.

  6. charon says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Debates would be easy for Trump to avoid, as Weld and Walsh are not credible candidates. (More like pesky insects buzzing around, maybe their motivation is something other than success?) Weld is RINO, thus has no significant constituency in today’s GOP.  Walsh is a nutter and disloyal to Trump, not credible.

    Any credible candidate would need the same voters Trump currently has locked up as Trump supporters, any challenge to Trump would antagonize the very voters needed for a winning majority.

    Many Republicans, including some politicians and almost all of the Christian Right are sealed within the Conservamedia information bubble and shielded from negative stories about Trump.  Even ones aware of the truth about Trump will be pretending to support him because of the negative consequences of being first to bell the cat.

    Trump is surrounded by enablers and/or sycophants, most are both, and is vindictive toward perceived disloyalty.  Thus, the leakers to Business Insider careful to be very anonymous.

    Within the GOP’s dominant evangelical faction, there is a Trump bandwagon effect.  All the bigfoot leaders, Falwell, Jeffress, Franklin Graham  and all the rest have been vociferous Trump supporters, on the groupthink, so they and their obedient followers are pretty locked in.  (These are not people who admit mistakes or change their minds).

    All in all, I expect Republicans to keep up a charade pretending all is well long after Trump’s dementia has become widely discussed elsewhere.  What with filing deadlines, nominating petition signatures etc., time is likely to run  pretty short before the dementia coverup collapses.

  7. Jax says:

    Exxxxcccellllent (evil laugh). All the rats should be seatbelted into the ship and unable to escape, all the way thru a second term, if that’s what it takes to prove we should NOT elect failed businessmen/reality tv stars/anybody in debt to a foreign country.

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  8. An Interested Party says:

    @charon: This is of a piece with the main argument here…Republicans could never put forth a credible opponent to Trump because too many of them are Trumpists…just as Republicans can’t strip the racism from their party as they would then no longer be Republicans…both insidious things are now totally entwined with the GOP…

  9. Kylopod says:

    @CSK: @Kathy: To my knowledge, no sitting president has ever agreed to a debate with a primary challenger. Bush Sr. never debated Buchanan, nor Carter Kennedy, nor Ford Reagan.

  10. charon says:

    @Kylopod:

    Challenges like Kennedy to Carter reflect some real division in the party or lack of confidence in the leader. There is no division in the GOP, they are all Trumpists now. The ones who like confidence in Trump himself (though OK with Trumpism) know to keep their heads down.

  11. Kylopod says:

    @charon:

    Challenges like Kennedy to Carter reflect some real division in the party or lack of confidence in the leader. There is no division in the GOP, they are all Trumpists now.

    I’m not disputing that. What I’m disputing is the notion that there’s anything abnormal about a sitting president refusing to debate a primary challenger, or equating that refusal with the GOP’s rather unprecedented step of canceling primaries.

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    And now we have a new synonym for “coward”.

  13. CSK says:

    @Kylopod: I can dream.

  14. Raoul says:

    When David Frum said ‘The Republican Party has a platform that can’t prevail in democratic competition’, I think most of us thought he meant in the general election. But these chumps will cut off their own people if there is even the slimmest iota of risk to Dear Leader.

    They cannot be trusted with power. Even at the state level. They hate their voters (not as much as they hate Democrats, but still!). They hate elections. They want unchallenged power. That’s a dictatorship they’re after.

    Roll over, Eisenhower, give Ronnie Reagan the news.

  15. charon says:

    @Kylopod:

    Not disputing your point either, just pointing out why Carter and Ford attracted serious challengers.

  16. Kathy says:

    @Raoul:

    But these chumps will cut off their own people if there is even the slimmest iota of risk to Dear Leader.

    I think that’s the rationale. Not the chance that Dear Leader might lose the nomination in primaries, but that one of the challengers might give a good showing somewhere, perhaps even win one primary.

    Their very strong, alpha male, Leader must be insulated even from that.

  17. Lounsbury says:

    @charon:

    Any credible candidate would need the same voters Trump currently has locked up as Trump supporters, any challenge to Trump would antagonize the very voters needed for a winning majority.

    Credible depends on what one means. Weld et al are not naifs. Their intention is to give support and cover to the old school Republicans, particularly of the New England variety (whatever their actual geography) to break or break further with Trump.

    Obviously the hard-core who adore the Trump message will never split off, but that is not a real political objective – it is shaving off votes on the margins. The Outside the Beltway writers type profile. It may be but 5-15% of the party oriented electorate, but the narrow loss in key Mid Western states by Madame Clinton shows that one must be thinking about specific state geographies and changing enough votes (while keeping a good motivation level in the core voters in those specific geographies) is your goal and that means change on the margins.

    Racking up your votes in California and New York and Massachusetts is operationally pointless.

    Peeling off sub-urban Republican votes in the non-southern states in play, that has a point.

  18. michael reynolds says:

    @Lounsbury:
    This.

    Our target is not more votes in Berkeley or Park Slope. Nor is our target some Alabama goober with a Confederate flag belt buckle. If you want a picture of who we’re after, she’s a white woman in the suburbs of Atlanta or Raleigh or Jacksonville.

    Motivate the base, target the Republican-by-habit voters.

  19. Andrew says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Makes me curious if Biden is too much of a reminder of the stereotypical politik and Democrat for these women you mention to be swayed against their nature.

    Or if Biden reminds these R level pullers of how the Republican USED to be. With a that glimmer of dollar signs in the eyes and the glimmer of shine on Biden’s unnaturally white teeth…

    I am not a white woman. Nor a white woman bellow the Mason-Dixon Line. But, if I had to guess…Bernie would be able to talk to these women with respect. Women generally do not like other women in charge, so Warren is iffy. Biden…Biden is 50/50. He would remind these women of the strong, smarmy, country club brunch having, sexual harassing, old, Christian, white man.

    That’s a good thing for suburban republicans right? Tradition?

  20. Richard L DeMent says:

    @Andrew:

    My wife is a precinct delegate in a Michigan suburbian district. Bernie is exactly the kind of candidate they specifically tell her they don’t want. In fact, she has heard more people tell her that Joe Biden is the only one that they feel can beat trump. Even those who lean towards the progressive side are much more likely to tell her Warren is the one they are supporting. She has knocked on a ton of doors and no one is talking about Sanders out here.

    All the usual caviates, small sample size, very local but that’s the reality in North Oakland county

  21. Andrew says:

    @Richard L DeMent:

    I would make a terrible woman voter, apparently.