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May 09, 2005

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Good points, although I wonder what downsides there would really be to running for 'nationally standardized primaries' as a national platform item.

Yes but Iowa and New Hampshire are both "in contention" states and both in their own way empower indipendents to either vote or caucus, and this is critical.

I also happen to think that the emphasis on a tradition of retail politics is important in the first sorting out of possible candidates. If Iowa could be done with TV and Marketing -- Dean would have won it.

If I were writing DNC rules for 2008 I would insist that states + or - 3-5 points either side of 50% vote first -- then follow that with the 5 -8 points states, and lastly the more than 8 states.

We Dems would be much better off with candidates who know how to fight for the center.

I'd even change the "roll Call of the States" at the convention -- states that had the best margins in 2004 would go first in voting their delegations.

Thanks DHinMI. One of the things I railed about post-November election was the fact that Iowa and NH had essentially chosen our candidate and then NH was the only one with the decency to go out and actually carry the state for him. I don't know if the solution lays more in rotating the states who get first pick, changing them completely, or just stretching out the nominating process so we don't have a clear field after three states have voted--though I think I'd like that last one best--but we do have to at least consider making major changes in the way we do things as a national party.

The only reason I shy away from national campaigns is that it automatically favors the Washington insider who can raise tons of money up front a la Lieberman in 2004 or, looking ahead, Hillary in 2008. I'd much rather see a grassroots wave sweep someone to victory after a long and drawn out process where we get to see the candidate over time.

Sara, the problem with your proposal is that Dems don't control the process by themselves, as most states vote for both Dems and Repubs on the same day. Now you raise another important point, which I discussed in the earlier post linked in this one, that being the openess of the process in various states. The next round of states after the first 8 included MI, WA and ME, but while MI was by far the largest state to have voted by that point and WA had the same number of EV's but more delegates than MO (the largest of the first 8), the total number of votes cast in MI, WA and ME was less than the votes case in NH, even though NH's population is only about 4-5% of the combined population of MI, WA and ME.

The other problem I see in picking just those states that were close last time is that it might skew the results the next time around. The battleground in one election may not be the battlegrounds the next time around, especially depending on the regional appeals of the candidates. Imagine if we chose another milquetoast candidate from New England but the Repubs had a moderate candidate from PA or OH? We'd probably get slaughtered, because we would have someone unlikely to have appeal in the border states or the south, who most likley couldn't make AR or LA or FL competetive, and probably not NC or TN, but would most likely lose too many states in the industrial Midwest.

I don't think you can calibrate the primaries too precisely, but I think it's ridiculous to have states that almost never vote Dem picking the Dem candidate, while states that lean Dem (other than DE) getting no say in the process.

Back in the dark days immediately after Kerry's concession, I proposed prioritizing future state efforts by a "Swing Index," where:

Swing Index = (Electoral Votes)/(Winner percent - Loser percent)

which might also be a good way to order the primary calendar. (I don't want to change the primary calendar every 4 years, but some longer-term average of this measure (or something like it) is a useful way to think about which states should be treated as "more equal" than others.)

For the non-maths like me out there, a HIGHER swing index means a state is relatively purple for the amount of EVs it has and should be fought for; a LOW index means a state is safely blue or red for the amount of EVs it has to offer and may not be worth fighting for.

My DailyKos diary on this index I made up, along with further analysis and a complete list of states ordered by Swing Index is at http://www.dailykos.com/story/2004/11/4/93614/4225

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