Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 8, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

MERRY CHRISTMAS!....More primary madness:

South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson will join with New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner tomorrow morning to announce that both states are moving up their presidential primary dates earlier into January, according to a prominent South Carolina Republican who spoke with Dawson this week. That likely will force Iowa — always protective of its party caucuses as the first-in-the-nation nominating contests — to make good on its vow to move their date from next Jan. 14 into pre-Christmas December.

Somebody please make it stop.

Kevin Drum 12:46 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (27)

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Comments

Anything that begins to force Iowa and NH to lose their first in the nation caucuses and primaries is a positive. Good job South Carolina.

Posted by: DoubleB on August 8, 2007 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

No! Keep going! At while we're at it, move up the presidential election from November to, like, St. Patrick's Day, and get the new guy inaugurated by Memorial Day.

Posted by: Grumpy on August 8, 2007 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Any reason given for why they'd want to be earlier?

Posted by: MarkH on August 8, 2007 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

How about a constitutional amendment to prohibit a primary earlier than 6 months before an election?

Posted by: anandine on August 8, 2007 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

It can't be all bad if it forces Howard Fineman to spend Thanksgiving and/or Christmas in Iowa (along with the rest of the blathering, chattering MSM TV cast of characters).

Posted by: steve duncan on August 8, 2007 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

I thought there was a date sometime in early Jan where the DNC/RNC would not allow an earlier primary/caucus?

Posted by: Disputo on August 8, 2007 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Anything that begins to force Iowa and NH to lose their first in the nation caucuses and primaries is a positive. Good job South Carolina.

I think you missed the pt. SC is colluding with NH against IA.

Posted by: Disputo on August 8, 2007 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

I'd be happy if iowa moved it up so far that it was now in the past, then we could stop pandering to the ethanol lobby and start pandering to somebody else.

Posted by: supersaurus on August 8, 2007 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

All the primaries were last week. I won. In both parties. Deal with it.

Posted by: GW Bush on August 8, 2007 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Look on the bright side- getting this primary business behind us by Labor Day could have positive benefits.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on August 8, 2007 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Won't be long until primaries for the next election are going on at the same time as the current election. Did that make sense? Not really, but then neither does any of this nonsense.

Posted by: ET on August 8, 2007 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

It would almost certainly require a Constitutional Amendment (because I assume this is a "state issue"*), but I think the federal government needs to take over selecting primary election days (for federal offices anyway) - the states are obviously in a big slap-fight over this, and the current bellweathers seem determined to move the 2048 primary to next week if it will protect their positions in front, regardless of such considerations as feasibility and/or common sense. Split the nation into 5 10-state regions, then hold a primary on the first Saturday of every month from January to May, rotating the regions every Presidential cycle so each gets a chance at the front (that way, each part of the country will get the lion's share of the attention - and pandering - once every 20 years for being first, instead of every canidate worrying about corn and whatever NH produces every 4). Heck, lets start off with Iowa's region on the first year, and NH's 4 years later, just to take a little sting out.


* And I use that phrase only to differentiate it from a "federal issue"

Posted by: phalamir on August 8, 2007 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

The only people who could possibly stop this are the candidates themselves. If, e.g., Obama, Hillary and Edwards agreed that they would not participate in any primary or caucus before x date, that might do cause some rethinking, right? But that'll never happen, I guess.

Posted by: Glenn on August 8, 2007 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Why can't we just have National Primary Day and be done with it? It would be less expensive, and we could stop the idiocy of just a few states like New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carloina, deciding for everyone else who the viable candidates are.

That idea and the outright banning of pre-election polling would give us a better idea who actual voters want to support, rather than having the corporate media and the Beltway Punditocracy decide for us - which is what happens now. And voters would have to actually "think" and decide for themselves who to support, rather than have the automatic fallback position of supporting the front runner.

And, of course, campaign finance reform would be a pretty good thing too. Of course, it has been a good idea for 35 years, but asking politicians to change these rules is like asking a meth addict to switch to Jolt Cola.

Posted by: neil on August 8, 2007 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

I've given the perfect solution to this problem. Just abolish the primaries and have the nominee chosen at the party's national convention where the party members from all the states get to choose the nominee.

The selection of a political parties candidate for any public office is a non-public issue and not one cent of taxpayer money should be spent in the process that the party freely chooses to use. If the Dems or the GOP or any other political party want to use primaries in the states that are open to the public as the means that chooses their nominee, then the party should pay all the costs for conducting that election and there should be no governmental involvement at all.

Posted by: Chicounsel on August 8, 2007 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

I'm shocked that Chicounsel is advocating for less democracy and accountability....

Posted by: Disputo on August 8, 2007 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Those who follow politics closely may get tired of the campaign and resist anything that would extend the campaign season, but it takes a long time for public opinion to wise up to new information. Facts about who is behind swift-boat attacks or how much time Bush spends clearing brush, need time to filter into mainstream awareness. If there had been a longer campaign season perhaps the switch from R to D in the 2006 election might have had an impact in 2004. People don't change their minds instantaneously. They need to hear things over and over before they start to take info in. In advertising they quantify that in terms of the number of repetitions needed to bring someone to a buying decision. If you've already made up your mind, the repetitions are tiresome, but we need them to bring voters to a new position.

Posted by: Perry on August 8, 2007 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

The solution is obvious. We should move the primary in South Carolina up, up until eight years ago.

Posted by: Matt on August 8, 2007 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

France's election process was extraordinary to watch. The official list of candidates was published on March 20. One month later, on Sunday, April 22, the first round election was held with 12 candidates--from all kinds of political parties, from the communists to the royalists, and 80% of the French voted. At 8:00PM, the polls closed and presto, the two top candidates were announced: Sergolene Royal and Nicholas Sarkozy. That would be the equivalent of our primaries.

Over the next two weeks, there were debates between Sarko and Sego. The questions were actually interesting, the responses informative and they had time to respond to each other. Both spoke for exactly the same amount of time. Because we don't have a TV, I don't know how much political advertising was broadcast, but I believe not much, and TV stations are obliged to provide both candidates with equal time. Negative campaigns are controlled.

Two weeks later on May 6, the final round was held and, again, about 80% of the French voted. At 8:00PM, the the polls closed and the winner was announced. Quick cut to the cheering at Sarkozy headquarters, a concession speech by Royal. And that was it. They returned to regular broadcasting. That was their presidental election.

The American system is clearly driven not by a desire for orderly democratic system, but by the same entertainment media that created melodramas like "Lost." The amount of money spent is obscene, and it isn't like we get a better product for the investment, the drama, the spectacle or the hassle.

Imagine if Americans had an equally efficient system. The list of official candidates would be published around the first of September, 2008, the primary would be held in mid-October, and the two finalists would face each other the first week in November.

Posted by: PTate in FR on August 8, 2007 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

We're stuck as long as Iowa and New Hampshire have powerful supporters within the parties (including people who hope to someday win an Iowa caucus or New Hampshire primary, as well as those who think that the preservation of the allegedly superior retail politicking that goes on in those states is so important that it's worth disenfranchising the rest of the country).

The rest of us, in other states, have to move up our primaries or else we will have no influence at all. Then Iowa and New Hampshire, which have the flexibility to act closer to the election because they are small states, move theirs up even further.

Posted by: Dilan Esper on August 8, 2007 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

How about revamping the whole idiotic federal electoral system? National party primaries held 6 months before the election. Abolish the electoral college. A runoff system similar to what the French have???

Does anybody, outside of a couple ethanol subsidy drunk South Dakotan farmers and such, think the US have anywhere near a democratic or sensible electoral process? America's electoral system is so broken it should be taken behind the bar and shot immediately. The two party duoply just extends this further: the Democrats are too cowardly and unimaginative to propose any real change and the GOP is only too happy to see the whole system fail and an oligarchy step in as replacement, with the added bonus of robbing the treasury in the mean time.

America is fucked and so is planet Earth, thanks to America's too big and too weaponized to fail position. Watch out!

Posted by: astrid on August 8, 2007 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

In the latest news from the campaign trail, Iowa has announced that it will protect its role in the primary election season by moving its caucuses for the 2012 general election to November 11, 2008, 1 week after the previous general election.

-Z

Posted by: Adam on August 8, 2007 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

But it won't stop because the states control the process. They set the election dates for primaries and believe you me most parties do not want to have to pay to stage the primaries themselves.

The only way to take that control back is for the parties to declare all the primaries beauty contests and that delegates will be chosen through party caucuses and state conventions only, just like they did back in the olden days.

And then we can have exciting and brokered conventions once again complete with smoke filled rooms and cigar-chomping pols.

Liberals make up your mine: either you want more democracy or democracy on a better time schedule.

Posted by: Sean Scallon on August 8, 2007 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Why can't we just have a lottery, or better yet, use a pseudo-random number generator, so as to eliminate possible fixing.

Posted by: Nancy Irving on August 9, 2007 at 5:30 AM | PERMALINK

"It would almost certainly require a Constitutional Amendment (because I assume this is a "state issue"*), but I think the federal government needs to take over selecting primary election days (for federal offices anyway)..."
Posted by: phalamir on August 8, 2007 at 1:39 PM

"Why can't we just have National Primary Day and be done with it?..."
Posted by: neil on August 8, 2007 at 1:51 PM
-------

I think these ideas are great! Do the federal office Primary Day in May, the party conventions in August, general election in November. The main reason that the State's held primaries scattered throughout the year was to give time for candidates to travel and speak, right? Well, with the internet and jet planes that isn't so important any more.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on August 9, 2007 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

I old enough to remember people complaining that the primary season was too long. From 1972 to 1984, we had the "marathon" era where camapaigns started in Janurary in Iowa and went to June in California. People said that left candidates and their bank accounts exhausted and not enough time to unite the parties after long, brusiing and expensive primary camapaigns. It was in 1988 with the Southern regional primary (Remember that, Super Tuesday?) that states began the process of moving up and leap frogging the others and it has going and going. Every state wants what Iowa and New Hampshire have, retail politics, candidates and the media traveling the state and spending money.

But they're not going to get that unless they space these contests out and have no more than a few on one day. My proposal is let Iowa and New Hampshire go first and then have the other 48 states pick from a hat the order they'll go in every Tuesday from Januray to June.

Posted by: Sean Scallon on August 9, 2007 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Sean:

Letting Iowa and New Hampshire go first is disenfranchising the rest of the country, period.

It simply doesn't matter that Iowans and New Hampshirites are supposedly smarter voters, or that they care more about politics, or that retail politics is superior to 30 second ads. Every time that they go first, it makes my vote, in California, count less (or not at all). It's bad enough that it doesn't count at all in the general election.

Any "reform" that allows Iowa and New Hampshire to go first disenfranchises over 100 million voters and is completely unacceptable.

Posted by: Dilan Esper on August 9, 2007 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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