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Primary Schedule Reform


The Blood
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There's been some recent talk about Iowa being replaced as the first-in-the-nation contest for the Democratic Presidential Primaries. I've been intrigued by the idea, but if we're being honest Iowa's going to fight this like hell. And if any primary state tries to move behind New Hampshire, well New Hampshire has it in state law requiring that it's the first-in-the-nation primary, so that'd result in an interesting scheduling contest.

 

Personally, I don't think fighting Iowa and New Hampshire is going to work out, but I am interested in what thoughts everyone has on reforming the primary schedule. My proposal wouldn't actually remove Iowa and New Hampshire from the early state lineup, I would just have all four early states hold their votes on the same day in the middle of February. This dilutes the influence of the less-diverse Iowa and New Hampshire while still maintaining what I think is a proud tradition in both states where voters do take their influence in the process seriously.

 

I would also load-up Super Tuesday with states, 2008 style. Because let's be honest, if you're a primary voter in a state later in the schedule, the influence of your vote is greatly reduced. It's a more democratic move to let as many voters as possible vote when there are more candidates in the race and the result of the primary isn't clear. I like allowing the states to decide their primary dates, and I think a staggered schedule may be necessary to prevent a contested convention in times where so many candidates contest primaries, but I also think holding Super Duper Tuesdays would be more democratic and representative of the nationwide opinion of primary voters. 

 

Those are my main two proposals, I just wanted to open up a discussion on the issue.

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I'll await what others might have to say. But I'll flat out say that this isn't an issue for me personally. And I'm totally apathetic to it. I'm content with my state's position in the primaries, but I can understand why some from other states might want to change theirs. And as long as they got the ability to change that, it works for me I guess. I don't really think it's a matter of more democratic or undemocratic as to the order of states. You're still getting to vote. Your vote still matters. 

If there's any reform I'm really passionate about it's getting rid of caucuses and going to primaries only, for everything. No more caucuses whatsoever. 

 

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The 4 early states should:

  • Represent all regions of the US, at least vaguely.
  • Represent all demographics of the US, at least vaguely.
  • Represent all political sides.

South Carolina and Nevada are fine for me, Iowa and New Hampshire aren't.

Give me (in no particular order) South Carolina, Nevada, Oregon, Michigan/Wisconsin.

This gives us all regions of the US represented, with the only questionable thing being Northeast representation, but I'd consider Wisconsin and Michigan NE enough for our purposes. Different demographics are represented well. You also have 2 purple states, a fairly blue state, and a fairly red state.

Order of states should be randomized each election season.

Edited by Rezi
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Coming from someone from Iowa, I will fully admit my bias. I've never gotten to experience the caucus or the first-state glitz yet. I'll be very disappointed if I will never be able to do so. That being said, if I'm being honest to myself - Iowa is not first state material. It could be along with the others, in something I will mention below, but the caucus is too unstable to go alone first. New Hampshire, in my opinion, is even worse. Iowa is more representative of the nation than New Hampshire is by quite a bit. The size, the cities, the demographics are much closer to the average US than New Hampshire.

I could see something like what Blood said above

First Tuesday elections - Iowa, Nevada, South Carolina

Next Tuesday elections - Minnesota, Oregon, Alabama, New Mexico (or something like that)

Work in trios or quartets up until Super Tuesday. Bring more states onto the same date rather than alone. End caucuses - while I would surely enjoy them, many, many others do not. It's undemocratic and it's plain outdated. I'll always stick up for my state to remain in the first bracket, but I don't think having the first few states going alone for weeks at a time is healthy for democracy (the process is so bloated as it is, any shortening of it is a good thing).

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It's not a very sexy answer, but I like the system as-is.  Iowa and New Hampshire are relatively cheap to compete in, so that minor folks can rise to prominence without being independently wealthy or having big money backers right away.  Likewise, Nevada and South Carolina have good diversity to make sure we're not always focused on straight white males (though to be fair, Iowa's last three Democrat nominee winners have been a black man, a white woman, and an openly gay man.)

Are there other ways to go about nominating a party nominee?  Sure.  But I can't think of any that would be absolutely 'better" across the board, as the current system gives a reasonably fair shake to all candidates regardless of whether they're party standard bearers or not (see Trump, Bernie, etc).  

 

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7 minutes ago, WVProgressive said:

WV should go first obviously 😛

In all seriousness, if I had to pick a single state to go first I’d choose Texas. Good mix of demographics, and a state that will likely be essential to the victories of either major party in 2028 and beyond.

This is an interesting pick. I think there's a utility in choosing smaller states to be first on the calendar, just because it gives a chance for unknown and outsider candidates to campaign on a tighter budget, but I do think this is a reasonable argument for Texas, just based on demographics and future importance as a purple state.

Edited by The Blood
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1 hour ago, MrPotatoTed said:

What's the thought process behind choosing Alaska, of all places?

They seem to be independent-minded. Third parties/Independents do best in Alaska. Lisa Murkowski actually won re-election as a write-in candidate.

Edited by Timur
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I’ve always liked my idea having every state primary occur in a single month. Candidates cannot drop out and endorse during this time, so that every state has the same options. Results for all the primaries are released after the final primary ends. 

I’m also okay with all the primaries occurring one Election Day. 

My biggest gripe with the primaries is that the early states have too much influence. I’m okay with the standard schedule provided all candidates that make it to the first state ballots are on the ballots of all states and these candidates can neither drop out or endorse until all primaries are concluded. 

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I think the primary schedule needs reform, but I don't have a good solution. I'd love to have them all in one day, but that doesn't allow any lesser-known candidates to build momentum, and also makes money even more important in the race. The best solution I can think of is holding them weekly in sets of ~4 states each that cover different demographics relatively equally (i.e. states that when grouped together make up a good sample size of the country in terms of region, race, age, political leanings, etc.).

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10 hours ago, Patine said:

Although, I am often called out and criticized for my mentioning of, "dirty tricks," that give the two major Parties massive and unfair advantages over all contenders, the fact is they are there, and the Primary system as an institution is a prime example. ONLY the two main parties get their Primaries run by the FEC, with, "party preference," on the ballot, and always a given for them, and massive public coverage, while other parties' Primaries and Conventions are privately run and funded, low-key, and only include, "active and contributory," members. The fact is, if true and needed electoral reform to create proper levels of competition and free-and-fair elections is to come to be, either ALL Parties registered for the election, should benefit from the former scheme, or ALL Parties, registered for the election, including (especially) the two Major ones, should have only the latter scheme, or an Alaska/Washington/California-type Primary system should be instituted Federally.

It's a good idea.

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29 minutes ago, jnewt said:

I think the primary schedule needs reform, but I don't have a good solution. I'd love to have them all in one day, but that doesn't allow any lesser-known candidates to build momentum, and also makes money even more important in the race. The best solution I can think of is holding them weekly in sets of ~4 states each that cover different demographics relatively equally (i.e. states that when grouped together make up a good sample size of the country in terms of region, race, age, political leanings, etc.).

I also think the election schedule and the amount of money spent should be limited, so that elections would be less costly.

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12 hours ago, pilight said:

Let the parties pick candidates however they want, but don't force taxpayers to pay for whatever process they use.  We got better candidates when party hacks in smoke filled back rooms picked them.

You know, even though I despise caucuses. You're right. We very damn well did get better candidates in smoke filled back rooms. 

I like the old times when you had some primary states, and some that were decided during the convention from delegates. 

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22 minutes ago, Pringles said:

You know, even though I despise caucuses. You're right. We very damn well did get better candidates in smoke filled back rooms. 

I like the old times when you had some primary states, and some that were decided during the convention from delegates. 

I guess the 2016 race would have ended up being Hilary Clinton vs. John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, or Jeb!

Edited by Timur
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