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September 20, 2015

Sunday Politics Thread: An Alternative View Concerning the State of the GOP Primary and (Supposed) Unintended Consequences [Y-not]

Earlier this week an article at the NYT concerning how the RNC's rules changes "may backfire" (namely, helping Trump and hurting Jeb) received some play.

Josh Putnam, who runs an interesting site called Frontloading HQ, takes issue with the NYT piece and its assertions:

The rules changes to streamline the Republican presidential nomination process may backfire. More specifically, they add:

But as the sprawling class of 2016 Republican presidential candidates tumbled out of their chaotic second debate last week, it was increasingly clear that those rule changes -- from limiting the number of debates to adjusting how delegates are allocated -- had failed to bring to the nominating process the order and speed that party leaders had craved.

What follows in the article is more of the same.

...and it is wrong. It is wrong because Nagourney and Martin fall into the post hoc ergo propter hoc trap.

Putnam continues:

Let's take a step back here for a moment and lay this out piece by piece. There are four main rules changes that Nagourney and Martin both directly discuss and indirectly hint at:

* limiting the number of debates

* increasing the penalties to keep states in line on the primary calendar

* compressing that calendar due to #2 and shifting up the date of the national convention

* tightening the proportionality rules for states with contests during the first half of March

Out of those four changes, only one has truly been implemented so far. That is the new debates-limiting rule. And it could be argued that even the effects of that one have not been felt yet. Debate season, after all, has not run its course yet. We are going on information from just two debates, long in duration though they may have been, at this point.

To have the desired effect that Nagourney and Martin describe -- to tamp down on the "chaos" and calm the nerves of jittery Republicans in the campaigns, the donor class or in the heartland -- the only solution would have been to eliminate primary debates altogether. But the RNC was never going to do that. Their objective was to limit the perceived damage. As we are witnessing on the Democratic side, even limiting debates can be a tricky business. The objective is the same though: limit, not eliminate the sort of jockeying that is a normal part of this invisible primary stage of a presidential nomination process. In other words, the national parties are attempting to manage the sorts of party divisions that always end up being emphasized in these events.

Read the whole thing. And while you're at it, check out the other interesting content at FHQ.

Open thread for politics.

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posted by Open Blogger at 01:45 PM

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