Race to the front

| Comments (7) | Misc
OK, I totally understand why there is a race to the front for state primaries. The earlier primaries have a disproportionate effect on who gets selected as the final presidential nominee. Obviously, if you want to get pandered to the way Iowa and New Hampshire do, it would be to your advantage to move the primary up.

So, what I don't get is why the Democrats are pushing back on the states (e.g., refusing to seat Florida's delegates), since it's not clear that it's in their interest to have the current early primary states be so influential. In this case, since the party's interest is to have the most credible candidate for the general election, and Florida is often a determining state, it would be to their advantage to encourage Florida go first. In any case, it's not clear to me why they are actively discouraging it.

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Me neither. What is clear to me is that the whole primary system is FUBAR (that's a technical term), and that it needs to be thrown away entirely. Yes, "beyond all repair."

What I'd like to see is a two-round election, something along the line of what France does. Put all sixteen of these bozi, plus the inevitable others (Ralph Nader, Lyndon LaRouche, and whomever), into an election in, say, June. That's early enough. Then take the top vote-getters, using some formula like this:

  1. Any candidate with at least [n%] of the vote (maybe n=20? Not sure what it should be) gets into the second round.
  2. If step 1 didn't produce at least three candidates, put the top three in anyway.
Then have the second round in November, with the resulting three to five candidates.

Next, I'll put forth my plan to get rid of the equally FUBAR electoral college system......

The two large political parties are basically bureaucracies. Bunching primaries early weakens their powers. Thus, they oppose it.

What Paul said, plus pandering to Iowa and NH which have deep roots in the parties for legacy reasons.

I can think of at least two reasons why the parties would want to discourage the ever-earlier primary schedules created by the "race to the front":

  • Earlier primaries mean longer, and hence more expensive, campaigns, straining party and donor resources.
  • Early primaries create an extended "dead period" before the convention during which, without primaries to campaign for, it's harder to generate fodder with which to distract journalists from inventing new "issues" for the presumptive nominee to handle. (Moving the convention earlier solves that problem, but at the cost of shifting it farther away from the election, thus attenuating its PR benefits.)
  • Actually, Dan, your first point isn't true. The campaign is going on anyway; earlier primaries will simply eliminate the weaker candidates earlier, arguably saving money.

    I'd like to thank stephenafgd and michaeldgfas for weighing in on the topic. It's nice to have the perspective of actual DNC vice-chairmen on this topic.

    Barry, I don't agree. Early primaries force the candidates to spend more money in the early stages than they normally would have to. Then they have to maintain their spending later on, as the election gets closer. It's true that the later spending ends up being more on trashing the other party's candidate, and less on trashing the candidate's primary opponents, if the latter have dropped out earlier. But I don't believe that a presumptive nominee can get away with reducing spending during the "dead period" between wrapping up the nomination and being officially nominated. After all, the other party has no reason to pass up the opportunity to hammer the now-clearly-identified opponent.

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