Friday, December 17, 2004

Rendell Tries To Move PA. Presidential Primary

(This is the first post from one of our new contributors. Enjoy- Dan)

Governor Rendell proposed earlier this week to move PA's presidential primary voting from April to January or February, in order to give PA a bigger say in who becomes the Democratic nominee. As Rendell noted "We're one of three key states in the general election, and we have no voice in the primary process".

Now, it seems obvious to me that the larger blue states should get a bigger say in the selection of the Democratic Presidential nominee, but I have a few problems with this move. First of all, this would continue the trend of pushing the primaries earlier. In the past we might not have known about the candidate until June. This year we knew Kerry would be the nominee in Early March.

This problem is exacerbated by the fact that New Hampshire, since 1977, has claimed the right to have the first primary. This means that whenever another state moves its primary back, New Hampshire moves theirs even further back. Over the course of the last three presidential primaries New Hampshire has moved its primary back almost a full month, from February 20 in 1996, to February 1 in 2000, to January 27 in 2004. If Pennsylvania was to move its primary into late January, New Hampshire law would force the state to move its elections even further back- maybe even into the previous year.

My question is: why shouldn't the national party decide when each state can vote in the primaries? I'm not sure I like the idea of every state voting on the same day, as it would be a logistical nightmare for those trying to campaign, but there has to be a better way to give the bigger states a bigger say without constantly moving the primaries further and further back.

One idea would be to use something along the lines of the Delaware Plan the Republicans came close to using. Basically this plan would create four voting blocks, each block consisting of similar sized states, and would allow the smaller states to vote first, with the bigger states voting last. For the Democrats this seems highly unlikely though, since the bigger states (CA, NY, PA, FL, IL, OH, MI)would continue to vote last.

Another plan, advocated by Chris Bowers of MyDD is the so-called California Plan, which basically still allows smaller states to vote first.

I've seen a lot of ideas with how to fix the primary system being floating around the blogosphere, but the one which seems to make a lot more sense to me is breaking up the country into 'blocs', with each one containing small, medium, a large states, and each bloc voting 1-2 weeks apart. The blocs would rotate each Presidential cycle to allow different states to vote first.

My real hope is that this move by Rendell is a bargaining ploy, to force the states which are resistant to primary reform into a deal. If not, we can expect the backwards march of the primaries to continue.


At 11:11 AM, Blogger DanielUA said...

I think clearly there needs to be a change in how we nominate our candidates. Two small, rural, white states should not be deciding the President for the rest of the party.

I think, however, it is very important to keep a primary season, rather than some huge day where everyone votes. Those candidates with little money would have no shot if they immediately had to run a full-scale national campaign. The winner would generally be not be the best candidate, but instead the best funded one.

The California plan (I think) goes more like this: There are a set of voting days that all states must use for their primary. There is then a set amount of electoral votes that each of those voting days allocates. And then, using random draws, you see which voting day your state is included in.

In other words, if voting day one had a total of 60 votes to allocate, it could randomly be California alone, or could be a combination of Iowa, Oregon and Missouri, or something like that. And generally, the later the voting days, the more votes are allocated. But this would be random, and would not favor big or small states. And it would allow an insurgent candidate time to gain a little momentum as the season went on.

I also think that if the the last Presidential Democratic candidate won less than, say, 42 percent of the vote in a particular state, that state has to go last. I dont want heavy, heavy Republican states determining the Democratic candidate.

At 1:10 PM, Blogger Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 1:14 PM, Blogger Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg said...

Simon Rosenber for DNC Chair! Yesterday, Rosenberg put forth the idea that Iowa and New Hampshire's monopoly over choosing our presidential candidate must end"Iowa and New Hampshire should not go first in the primary calendar, and we need to create a system that allows other states to have equal footing," said Rosenberg, president and founder of the New Democrat Network, a centrist issue advocacy organization based in Washington.

"I have no problem with Iowa and New Hampshire being part of the early states, but their days as the sole arbiters of who our nominee is should come to an end," he said Friday.


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