Skip to main content

Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, speaks during the 2011 Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana June 18, 2011. REUTERS/Lee Celano
The fact that Republicans will formally nominate their presidential candidate in Cleveland, Ohio, isn't the most important thing about their 2016 convention plans: It's that they hold the convention far earlier than they have in recent years—as early as June, assuming the Cavaliers don't make the NBA finals, which is only slightly more likely than Sarah Palin being our next president.

Part of the rationale, reports Sam Stein, is that an earlier convention will mean the party's nominee will have more money to spend on the general. Moreover, Priebus hopes to compress the primary schedule in order to avoid the lengthy battle ultimately won by Mitt Romney last time around.

"We've got a rule in our party that says that all of our primaries have to be completed within 45 days of the start of the convention," Priebus said. "So if you imagine a slide rule, I'm moving the convention forward, but I'm also moving the deadline by which all the primaries have to be complete."
Not only that, he wants to reduce the number of debates, saying he had "regret" about the 20 debates held during the 2012 nomination contests:
Priebus said he thinks "we're going to have somewhere south of 10 … and my guess is we're going to work with all of these media companies and outlets in helping decide who the partners will be, who the moderators will be."
On the surface, this all might seem fairly sensible. Mitt Romney did have a lot of cash that he couldn't spend until the general, the lengthy primary did weaken his campaign and holding so many debates did make the Republicans look like a bunch of clowns on a good day and a bunch of crazed lunatics on a bad one.

That being said, I think this decision is a bad one because instead of trying to make the best primary process for 2016, Priebus is trying to solve for the problems Mitt Romney faced in 2012. Newsflash: Romney isn't running in 2016. (Well, at least he says he isn't, and for once, I believe him.)

Romney's money problem wasn't that the calendar made it impossible for him to spend general election cash, it's that the only people he raised money from were big donors who maxed out, which meant half the money they donated couldn't be used until the general. If Romney had been able to raise money from small donors, like Obama did, he would have been able to use money earlier. Changing the convention date is solving for the wrong problem.

On the question of the length of the primary and the debates, it's hard to blame Reince for not being happy with how 2012 went down, but consider what might have happened had the primary calendar been condensed: Mitt Romney might not have been the last man standing. Sure, he might have embraced a different strategy, so we'll never really know, but what we do know is that Romney used the long 2012 schedule to his advantage. Not only that, he used the long debate schedule to his advantage, because each time one of his rivals had a strong performance, he came back in the next debate with an even better one.

My point is that 2012 could have even been worse for the GOP. Imagine if Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich had gotten the nomination? A shorter schedule probably would have benefited them, but even though it's impossible to say for sure whether it would have, it's absolutely clear that the GOP's real problem had nothing to do with the number of debates it held or the length of its primary calendar, but instead was that the GOP primary electorate is out of step with most people who vote in presidential elections. So again, Reince is solving for the wrong problem.

All that being said, I will give Reince Priebus a little bit of slack: By trying to hide his party, he might be solving for the wrong problem, but when it comes to dealing with what really ails the GOP, it's not clear there's anything else he can do.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site