Should Idaho choose its 2024 Republican Presidential nominee by caucusing on the first Saturday in March, or through a Primary conducted on the 3rd Tuesday of May? And what is the difference?
In 2024, with a Democrat in the White House, the Republican convention will be in mid-July. The Secret Service, who must clear Idaho’s 32 delegates, asks for 90 days advance notice. Not knowing until May is a challenge.
But “logistics” are not why Idaho will be caucusing. Current GOP Chairwoman Dorothy Moon and her “handlers” say a March caucus is the only way “Idaho’s voice will be heard.” The continued strength of former President Trump in the polls is making that answer absurd.
The proposed Idaho March caucus will not bump New Hampshire or Iowa, Nevada or South Carolina. It would fall on the first Saturday in March, with another east coast primary on Sunday, a caucus in North Dakota on Monday, and then the election’s single biggest contest, Super Tuesday, where 16 states and territories select their delegates.
Does this enhance Idaho’s voice? Examine two possibilities: (1) Trump’s current dominance in the polls persists, or (2) Trump’s lead fades to a “brokered convention” where a non-Trump alternative has a chance by combining delegates from other non-Trump contenders.
Case 1 Trump persists strong — Idaho selects a pro-Trump slate in May, the same as March except, with more opponents in March, Trump’s win could come in under 50%, allowing other candidates to win a few delegates. By May, Trump’s opposition will be down to one or two, and his chance of pulling over 50% and winning the state outright goes up.
Case 2 Trump fades — Idaho selects a pro-Trump slate of delegates in March, with one or two other candidates winning a few “also-ran” delegates. But by May these other contenders are now out-polling Trump. Our “May” delegation would reflect Idaho’s choice among these last survivors, possibly tipping the scales back toward Trump, or in favor of the leading Trump alternative.
Trump supporters should be skeptical about the “insistence” on a March caucus. Republican National Committee members in neighboring states report “the old Ted Cruz network” is angling for a “brokered convention.” That network currently runs Idaho’s Party, and they have all cozied up with California’s Harmeet Dhillon, who floated a plan to skew California’s primary against Trump.
Already known is that Trump’s campaign style favors primaries over caucuses. Caucuses require major “on-the-ground” staff presence. Trump, a “frugal” campaigner, would be hard-pressed to deploy 70 staffers (one for each caucus site) to Idaho three days before Super Tuesday. At a time when each day counts, Idaho is not an easy place to “get in and out” quickly.
The “it must be March” chant from Party leaders is also suspect as it flies in the face of traditional campaign wisdom. That wisdom recognizes early Presidential primaries are logistically easier to implement and may enhance voters’ choices if there is no incumbent or “front-runner.” But in 2024, there clearly is a front-runner.
So why push a false narrative? Remember the scenario where Trump’s star fades and we end up with a “brokered convention.” Party leaders serve as the “brokers” for uncommitted delegates from their state. By voting before Super Tuesday, it is likely Idaho will have more of those “uncommitted delegates” (delegates allocated to a candidate who, possibly only 3 days later, drops from the race).
Who benefits from wheeling and dealing delegates? Not Idaho voters. Not the current front-runner. The beneficiaries are Party leaders who don’t trust “the people” in the first place. You know, the same ones who think the Party should tell you how to vote in all Primary races.
“It must be March” is the Cruz crowd’s chant. But you can trust them, after all they’ve never tried to steal the nomination from Trump . . . except for the last time they had a chance.
Trent Clark of Soda Springs is president and CEO of Customalting Inc. and has served in the leadership of Idaho business, politics, workforce and humanities education.
This Op-Ed was submitted by Trent Clark. Op-Eds do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those at the Idaho Dispatch.
Tags: 2024 Presidential Caucus, 2024 Presidential Election, 2024 Presidential Primary, Brokered Convention, Delegates, Donald Trump, Dorothy Moon, Idaho GOP, Idaho Republican Party, March Caucus, May Primary, Republican Convention, Super Tuesday