Sunday, August 26, 2007

primary primer

The only thing worse than our presidential general election process is our presidential primary process.

1. It gives goofy, weird, states too much influence. I love New Hampshire-ites with their "Live Free or Die" and all that, but I am not sure they should be so important in national politics.

2. It is creating a "race to January" where states are moving up their primaries in order to try to gain said influence. It is possible the nominations will be effectively set by February 5th this time around. I need Dennis Kucinich around longer than that!

Why not a single national primary in the spring? That way everybody matters and there is no way to game the dates.

Do candidates really want to spend untold hours in Iowa getting prodded and poked (Barak Obama said on the Daily Show that Iowa voters like to "kick the tires" and "look under the hood" of the candidates)? Does John McCain relish going to Bob Jones University and licking some fundamentalist boots?

What would be lost? Perhaps the chance for a relatively unknown candidate to work the existing system well and gain momentum? No more Howard Deans? Is that a bad thing?

The Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) in Mexico now uses a national primary to select their candidate. The Socialist Party in France also used a national primary to select Segolene Royal. Do our erudite readers know of other examples?

Those who know me know that I have never voted in a national election and never will, but hey, a good idea is a good idea, no?


Jeff H said...

Readers might also be interested in this article from The Economist.

In it, the suggestion is given to start the process later in the year with five randomly chosen states, followed by two or three “Super Tuesdays” on which several states would vote.

Mungowitz said...

isn't it true, Ang-o, that you ALMOST voted in 1980, for our boy Ed Clark?

I know you only speak the truth, only speak the truth, only speak the truth...but didn't you ALMOST vote in 1980?

Angus said...

(1) I have never been a registered voter.

(2) I was not of legal voting age in 1980, was I?

Ed was aaight, though.

Dirty Davey said...

The biggest problem with a single national primary--at least as opposed to the more spread-out process of old--is that nationwide campaigning is prohibitively expensive. In theory, it's easier to raise money to make a serious run in Iowa and New Hampshire (and then use victories in those states to generate donations) than it would be to raise enough money to be a serious nationwide candidate.

Here's another top-of-the-head thought about the spread-out process--as long as winning the first few states doesn't give a insurmountable lead, voters in those states can cast sincere ballots and leave it to the voters in the later-voting states to vote strategically. (This is particularly true in the Democratic party, where delegates tend to be assigned proportionally; Republican primaries are more often winner-take-all.)

A national primary might encourage strategic voting to the point that the field is effectively narrowed to two candidates before the primary, possibly by a process that is less democratic than what we now see.