As of Saturday, six of the Democratic candidates for president have vowed to “skip” states which hold primary elections before party-imposed start-dates, according to the Associated Press. This is on top of party-imposed sanctions handed down by both the Republicans and Democrats last week. Why? The earlier the primary season starts, the AP reports, the more the deck is stacked towards those that can raise the most money.
[Candidates who] have raised less money and can’t afford to organize in multiple states at the same times, especially those with expensive media markets such as Florida and Michigan [… states which both have taken steps to move up their primaries].
An editorial in tomorrow’s New York Times supplies the headline to this blog post, and comes out against the early primary calendar. The piece takes a look at some proposals for reform, as we have on this very blog.
Many worthy reform proposals are circulating. One calls for dividing the nation into four regions and having them vote in sequence: one in March, another in April, and the last two in May and June. In future elections, the regions would vote in a different order. Unfortunately, a leading version of this plan calls for Iowa and New Hampshire to keep voting first. Another appealing idea, the “American Plan,” starts with small states and moves onto larger ones, so long-shot candidates can build momentum, but it does an especially good job of ensuring that voters from all states have a reasonable chance of voting early in the primary season.
The two parties should begin a discussion of the best reform proposals now, and plan on having a new system in place for 2012. The presidential nominating process is too important to American democracy to be allowed to descend into gamesmanship and chaos.
Stay tuned here for the latest on the primary election tango. I’ll tell you one thing, all this confusion isn’t helping our turnout.