Primary Election Stupidity
In 2008, it was the Democrat’s fault. Some states sought to bolster their impact in choosing the Democratic Presidential nominee by moving up their primaries to become one of the “early” primaries. The most dramatic and meaningful of these decisions was Michigan’s move up so early in the calendar that the state was penalized by losing all of its nominating delegates. Michigan did it anyway, because no matter what you see in the movies, both party’s presidential nominee is already selected by the time the convention rolls around. The votes at the nominating convention are, for all intents and purposes, worthless.
In 2008, however, things were different. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama took much longer than usual to sort out. By the time it was said and done, it turns out that Michigan’s delegates would have mattered, and might have affected the outcome. Of course, by then, nothing could be done because the candidates had skipped campaigning in the state with worthless delegates.
This year, it is the Republicans turn to be jackasses. The GOP apparently, isn’t tough enough to enforce its rules (or has learned from the Democrat’s mess less time) with any sort of penalties, so various states have taken it upon themselves to move up their primaries. This in turn makes the states that are “supposed” to have the early primaries move their elections up even further in order to stay in the front of the line.
The result of all this jockeying is that New Hampshire may end up having its primary in December, and thus, Iowa may end up having its in December, or even November, an entire year before the actual election, next fall.
Presidential Primary Reform
No politician is willing to talk about primary reform because there is always the chance that they may one day be running for President and there is no way quicker to lose Iowa or New Hampshire than to suggest that those states somehow are not entitled by God himself to be the first contests of any Presidential nominating process.
Of course, those claims are absurd. There is nothing special about Iowa or New Hampshire, or any other state, that makes them more entitled to being the first nominating contest.
It’s too late to do anything about it for this election season, but after the next Presidential election is over (well over a year away, mind you) it is time to go out and get real meaningful Presidential primary campaign reform.
A system where the first five slots are rotated among all 50 states would be the most fair. But, the most important thing is to get a drop dread, no nonsense start date. That start date should be no earlier than March of the same year the election is held. That is plenty of time for a real contest to occur and be settled before the general election.
The Democrat’s idea to strip states who start too soon of delegates seems like a good starting point. I’d go so far as to say that any member of the party in a state that moves its primary or caucus before the start date before the sanctioned start date will be barred until the next Presidential election from serving at the executive level of the national party. That might undercut the party votes that move these contests up.
In the meantime, some clever state (especially the bigger ones with more delegates) might want to consider the power lever that may exist near the end of the nominating contest. Imagine if in 2008, Michigan had moved its primary to the end of the nominating contest. The state would have been in the position of choosing the nominee, not just in position to “set the tone” as many of the earlier states are attempting to do.