A Modest Proposal for Radical Change in Primaries
Although a news service that carries the name "Yahoo!" might, prima facie, strain credulity (unlike news stories by a journalist who calls himself "Dark Wraith," of course), we can take the claim made in the Yahoo! News article as a point of departure for discussion about the current presidential nomination primary system in the United States; and konagod does just that:
"There is seriously something wrong and flagrantly undemocratic about our election process if Iowa can 'make or break Democrats'...
"The United States has 300 million people and Iowans represent about 1% of that total, and New Hampshire about half as much.
"If these two states have that much influence over who stays and who goes, then it's obvious we need an overhaul...
"We should have one primary which includes all 50 states. All at once. And if that's not an option for whatever reason, then at least limit us to 3 primaries. Take the 20 least-populated states and have a primary, following up a week later with a second primary consisting of the next 20 least-populous states, and finish off the following week with the final ten. Give everyone a shot at this. Because nothing, absolutely nothing pisses me off as much as going to vote in my primary after my candidate already dropped out 6 weeks earlier due to a defeat in Iowa or New Hampshire."
Never being one to miss an opportunity to offer an unsolicited opinion, your host here at The Dark Wraith Forums offered in comments an alternative, which is summarized below:
◊ Two, uniformly set days for primaries in every state.
◊ First-round primary on the second Tuesday following the first Monday of February. The top two vote-getters from each party go to the second round. In addition, each party is required to choose through an independent panel a wild card candidate to stand with the two top-dogs. The wild card can yield to another candidate if he or she so chooses; top dogs cannot (and, almost assuredly, would not).
◊ Second-round primary on the second Tuesday following the second Monday of April. The two top vote-getters and the wild card square off for each party.
◊ Winner take all for each side only if top vote-getter draws a majority; otherwise, final sudden death round of two top vote-getters from second round two weeks later.
(Yes, the smell of sports around this scheme is pungent—and I personally loath sports—but I'll tell you what: sports draws a whole heckuva lot more fans than primary politics does, and I can see the media flowing hard and fast toward the gaming, commercial aspects of and opportunities within this mechanism. It just begs for the construction of a whole "industry of excitement" around it, just like the mainstream media do with pro sports.)
This double-elimination style for the primaries would enhance interest in the process, and it could also lead to a much greater effort by both parties to ensure actual unity rather than the technical façade of numbers.
Furthermore, over a course of election cycles, a refined version of such a system could afford the nation a means by which a genuinely popular vote could be held for the President of the United States.
Personally, I think my idea is worth considering.
Professionally, I know my idea is going to get shot down about ten seconds after I push the "Publish" button, below.
The Dark Wraith now opens the floor to alternatives, discussion, and general condemnation of such a hare-brained scheme.
Lieberman Endorses McCain for President
The Dark Wraith will refrain from descriptions of what fates befell wanton traitors of earlier eras.
Ground Lost, Turf Unclaimed in Dem Race
According to the poll, none of the other Democratic candidates is currently pulling more than four percent support, which indicates that, overall, Democratic voters are becoming less committed to any particular candidate as they begin to pay attention to what more candidates have to say and become more aware of things they might not favor in the candidate they previously supported. The loser in this political horse race is, unsurprisingly, the front-runner, who increasingly becomes the target of the other candidates' focused criticisms. As the primary season approaches, the task for Mrs. Clinton will clearly be to stop the erosion of her base of support and begin to regain the confidence of those who have drifted away from her camp but are not yet particularly committed to any other candidate.
The following graphics are drawn from polling data by USA Today. They show likely Democratic voters' sentiments toward each of the three leading candidates.
The charts above show that, while each of the top three candidates has garnered an increasing percentage of likely voters with unfavorable feelings toward her or him, only Clinton has actually had a drop-off in favorable sentiment, although the loss is barely within the range of the poll's margin of error.
A month from the dateline of this article, the Iowa caucuses will be held, and significant swings can happen in voter sentiment between now and then; however, the tide does seem to be turning away from Clinton, and continued loss of support through December could spell a closer result in Iowa than the Clinton campaign thought possible just a month ago.
The challenge for the other Democratic candidates is to find the resonance with voters that will draw them, first, to favorable sentiment and, from there, to active support at the ballot box. The lackluster performance of both Obama and Edwards in taking advantage of Clinton's loss of support could bode well for one of the dark horse candidates able to step into the spotlight and seize the opportunity to gather momentum absent from the campaigns of Clinton, Obama, and Edwards.
The Dark Wraith will deliver further data results and analysis in the days ahead.