A better primary proposalPosted Wednesday, May 7, 2008, at 9:37 AM
In previous years, people complained that presidential elections were pretty much over after the March Super Tuesday -- and they were. That meant primaries in other parts of the country didn't have much impact.
Now, they're complaining that the presidential election race, at least for the
Democrats, is taking too long -- and it is, although at least the late spring primaries finally have some impact.
People are never satisfied.
To win a national election, you need just seven states to earn enough electoral college delegates -- California, Texas, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.
So let me propose a new system for a national primary process.
Let's keep with tradition and let Iowa and New Hampshire launch the presidential race. Both represent key demographics that will be important in any election and they quickly weed out the candidates who have no chance.
But then, let's divide the country into four regions, each with its own common primary date -- The west, the south, the midwest and the northeast.
I'd start with the west where California would dominate. Then move to the south (Texas and Florida), before heading to the midwest (Illinois and Ohio) and finishing up in the northeast (Pennsylvania and New York).
Put one month between each of those regional primaries (March, April, May, June). Hold the conventions in July and run the national campaigns until November.
There are several advantages to this process. Each region has its unique issues (for example, in the west, public lands issues are far more important than in the northeast).
More importantly, candidates won't have to criss-cross the country, which drives up the costs of their campaigns. They'd be more likely to visit each state in each region (although Alaska and Hawaii would probably still get shafted). They'd be spending more time focusing on regional issues and learning about those regional issues.
And it's unlikely anybody would have a clear victory in hand too early, making each primary actually important at the national level.
It's just one idea to help change the system and make it more responsive.
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