Monday, March 07, 2005

Front Loading the Democratic Primaries

There's been a major discussion in Democratic circles to change the dynamics of primary politics. Many feel that two unrepresentative states, NH and IA, are unduly influencing the party's choice of nominee. So for instance, whoever wins IA gains so much TV time that it is difficult for anyone to come back. Also frustrating for big states like Michigan and Pennsylvania is that by the time their primaries role around, the nominee has already been decided.

There's been talk of going to rotating regional primaries or some other model. One thing we are sure of is that nothing can be done to change the NH and IA frontrunner status in 2008. As a result (via MyDD) many larger states like PA and NC are moving up their primaries so as to front load the primaries and make their states more relevant.

At MyDD, a commenter, Blue State Boy, had a coupe of very interesting remarks that make sense to me:

If the Democrats had a single nationwide primary/ caucus in one day in 2004, Joe Lieberman would have been our nominee. It was only after polling in Iowas and NH in the fall of '03 showing Lieberman not doing well did he stop leading in the national polls. Without those small state polls, he would have continued to lead because of his 2000 name recognition.

and this astute observation:

Here we go again! The influence of Iowa and NH has increased significantly over the years because of the front loading of the primaries and caucuses.

Think about it, in 1984 Mondale didn't lock up the nomination until California in June, which was the story for decades. Starting in 1988, the Southern Super Tuesday strategy and the subsequent changes in '92, '96, '00 and '04 making IA/NH earlier and earlier (In '72 the NH primary was in March in '04 in was in January) with way too many states immediately following. Space them out! Give the candidates time to actually visit the states and create grassroots organizations instead of using the media to spin and spending millions on tv.

IA/NH only get a disproportionate amount of influence because there in not any time left to re-group and move on. Would the 1992 Clinton have been able to survive the current calendar? Or would Tsongas have had it all wrapped up?

Would Kerry have been the nominee or at least a stronger nominee with the 1984 calendar? Not sure, but spreading out the nominating calendar is the answer not even more front loading.

I'm agnostic about the process, but definitely in favor of a longer useful primary. I think NH and IA have gotten a touch too arrogant about the privilege. Although, I have to say that this backlash against NH and IA is spearheaded by Dean folks and it makes no sense. Dean was only able to become the mega star that he became precisely because of the way NH and IA are structured. They work well for no name candidates to gain traction.

As a Kerry supporter it all worked out well, but I think the NH and IA process helped Kerry as he had to deal extensively with one on one situations and unscripted group meetings. Unlike the Republican Party whose money people annoint a frontrunner and then muscle out challengers, the Democratic primary process is democratic.

I am looking forward to the 2008 primaries. Hillary is the supposed frontrunner, i can live with that and many pundits and loud mouthed Democrats have panned Kerry's chances, I can live with that too. What they haven't factored in is the resevoir of strong Kerry support and worship that's out there. Many of us realize that this is our one chance in a lifetime to put in a president that we all can be proud off, who will elevate the office to its natural prestige and define a vision for America and the world that we all can be proud off. Clinton and Bush have tarnished the image of the Presidency, with Kerry we have a chance to restore its glory. President G.W. Bush is quite possibly the worst President ever, only history will tell how far from the bottom rung he'll be placed.


Blogger Ebook Manic said...

Hi Ono,

I was busy looking for information on mydd and I came across your post " Front Loading the Democratic Primaries ". Very interesting. If possible, have you got any ideas of where to find the best resources on mydd.


9:36 PM  

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