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Towards a Fairer Primary Process

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Iowa has taken on a disproportionate power in American politics. It could be argued with some measure of persuasion that Barack Obama would not now be President of the United States if the primaries were held in a different way, or started in more than one state simultaneously. We all recall that Hillary Clinton had a huge lead in all the national polls entering the Iowa Caucus. And then there was the Democratic debacle that resulted when Michigan and Florida attempted to move up their primary dates to gain more influence in the process.Consider also how ethanol has unduly affected candidates and thus has resulted in farmers growing corn for inefficient fuel use at the expense of the world food supply. This is just one example of how one state can have a disproportionate influence on policy. No one state should have such power. It is unseemly and unfair. Additionally, Iowa is a caucus state whereas the majority of states use a popular vote – a process more closely in line with how the Presidential election actually takes place.

I propose that a change be made to the primary process for Presidential elections. My proposal in general is this: five states vote on the same day and the process is repeated with the remaining states for the following 9 weeks (where territories are placed can be dealt with also but I will concern myself only with the states for this general proposal).

It would not be a randomly generated process since that could result in some strange results such as states that are too geographically separated or states that are too politically similar. These are just a few examples of why a random selection could be problematic.

Instead, the process should be thoughtful. For example during the 2012 election 5 states could be selected such as: Indiana, Pennsylvania, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Kansas. This is just an example of course. If these groups of five states are thoughtfully chosen it should be a simple matter to make the groups fair and still make it reasonable for a candidate to campaign effectively within all of the states without undue travel.

Once a list of these groups is generated, the process could then proceed through the list as each successive Presidential election takes place. For example group A is first in 2012 and then group B moves to the front of the list for 2016 while group A moves to the back of the list, and the process continues for ten election cycles until we return again to group A.

Such a process seems easily achievable, much fairer, and provides some additional benefits. No state’s pet projects will have undue influence on American policy. States will not be motivated to attempt to change the date of their primary, and all states will feel as though they will eventually be a meaningful part of the process. Some states now feel that their vote comes so late in the cycle that most primaries are actually settled before they ever get to weigh in.

Why not make the process more egalitarian, and eliminate the pitfalls of our current process? It is not difficult to accomplish, and the benefits would redound to us all.

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Categories: General
  1. Laurie (aka 1SupremeGoddess)
    November 28, 2009 at 6:38 am

    Well done, sugar!

  2. Paula Tyler
    January 5, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    I agree there should be some rules for the Primary process, but I did enjoy watching the states fall all over themselves changing the dates of their primaries in 2008. The media pushes their irrational blitz of what each of the primaries mean historically (no candidate that didn’t win in Iowa, has won) and unfortunately it seems Americans believe and fall in step with this. Candidates fall for it and drop out of the race (repeat over and over, no candidate that does not win Iowa can win, Repeat). Michigan and Florida went crazy in moving the state primaries forward to January and in February (earning them a loss of delegates), Super Tuesday (Feb. 5th) then had the largest number of states holding primaries at the same time. Rules on who goes first and when might be rational; would it still be fun to watch?

  1. January 5, 2012 at 5:01 pm

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