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March 12, 2005


the compressed schedule is another problem with the status quo, in that it gives so much weight to momentum that the early states overdetermine the rest of the race (esp. with a media that can only do horserace stories, and badly at that). the same schedule with twice as much space between primaries would have made for a fairer and potentially more dynamic race, and stretching it out longer would have kept the democratic message in the public eye longer, whcih would have kept pushing bush's poll #s down as well.

I think we need to mandate that there be five states in the first round. I would keep Iowa and New Hampshire, This cycle but also state that this might change. I would add ten, Wash, New mex.

Then I would have a two week wait and have OH,Or,Az,La,MO.

Then two weeks later I would have Tx,Fl,NY,Ca,ill.

Then I would have idaho,utah,montana,minn,co,ark,ok,ga,s car,vt,maine,rhodeisland.

and so on. maybe three weeks and 15 and 15 that would be 11 weeks of primaries split by size and region. If you break things down you might have interesting looks maybe pushing the big ones until last or changing things. I have little problem with keeping the iowa and new hamphire as two of the first five but opening it up so that the NW, south and SW seems to bring balance to the system.

Of course this is off the cuff and there are holes I am sure. I would also state that this system could shift every four years. Between who are the first five... Thoughts?

Davinci: One thing to consider when pondering multi-state primaries is distance. Candidates could reach more states more often if they're not spread across the country. On Mini-Tuesday there were seven primaries in three time-zones with states that touched both borders. I doubt anyone other than Lieberman ever visited DE, and it would have been a hell of a trip to try to swing through SC, ND and AZ on one circuit. It's also a lot of wasted time being in a plane, so what happens is that candidates will often write off states because they're too far out of the way.

If Petey were God:

I'd have a longer series of one state per week primaries, all with small populations and cheap media markets, followed by a few massive regional primaries. So I'd end up with something like:

Week 1: Iowa
Week 2: South Carolina
Week 3: New Hampshire
Week 4: New Mexico
Week 5: Montana
Week 6: Wisconsin
Week 7: NY, MA, CT, ME, VT
Week 8: CA, WA, OR, NV, AZ

I'd keep the initial small states the same cycle after cycle, but rotate the order of the regional primaries.

If Petey were an all-knowing God, he's mix in an ethnically and racially diverse swing state earlier in the cycle; MI, OH, AR, TN, maybe even VA or NC. PA would be great, but it's too expensive, and OH may be as well. For now, MI and a southern or border state that's typically competetive would make sense. But in the current lineup, and even the "If Petey Were God" lineup, there's no competetive state in which you have a diverse workforce and an African-American population (outside Milwaukee) not known to the rest of the state by their first names.

The regional angle, however, is something I think is worth considering if the current system is ever dramatically overhauled. As I mentioned above, ideally you don't want the candidates having to fly 5 hours between states voting on the same day. If they do, many times they'll just not fly to some of those states instead of going to the NYC/DC corridor, California, Texas and maybe Chicago to raise cash.

I thought about including Arkansas, although I worried about it duplicating South Carolina's role. But perhaps Arkansas should take Montana's place.

I was aware that was excluding big cities (and Northern blacks) outside of Milwaukee. But the justification was an avoidance of big media markets, along with the fact that the electoral college (not to mention the Senate) devalues big city voters in November.

But upon further thought, I'd be in favor of substituting Michigan or Missouri for Wisconsin. The cheesehead state has too much overlap with Iowa's role.

Well, you've got to have big cities, because only big cities have sprawling suburbs, and the suburbs are where the most votes lie. That's one of the most anamylous aspects of having Iowa and NH go first, because even Des Moines, which is one of the only parts of Iowa that's grown, doesn't have a particularly big suburban ring; I have friends that live on the edge of the metro area, and it takes them 15 minutes to get downtown. Fifteen minutes in the Detroit suburbs at rushhour gets you through about five stoplights, and that may be faster than Boston, Philly, greater NYC, DC, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, etc.

And NH? Do they even have suburbs?

"And NH? Do they even have suburbs?"

NH is a suburb.

After consultation with my choir of angels, I come up with the subtly revised:

Week 1: Iowa
Week 2: South Carolina
Week 3: New Hampshire
Week 4: New Mexico
Week 5: Missouri
Week 6: Montana
Week 7: First of the massive regional primaries.

Start the whole thing in mid-January, and you have your nominee in mid to late March instead of early March.

Well, you've just come up with six states, five of which Kerry lost, and which for the six states averaged 7.49% margins of defeat.

Before we were to have primaries in states lost by Kerry by 20.5% (MT) and 17.08% (SC), I'd like to have a state that Kerry and/or Gore won by more than 1.67%.

Part of the theory is that by having a succession of Iowas and New Hampshires, you would diminish the importance of the actual Iowa and New Hampshire.

Since going into the first regional primary, you'd have only a miniscule percentage of total delegates chosen, and since you'd likely have multiple candidates to win a primary, the goal would be to provide big state voters with an actual decision to make after letting everybody really get to know the candidates...

But forecasting the dynamics of a new system is tricky, of course.

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