New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, a potential independent candidate for president, Friday called on the federal government to come up with a new schedule for presidential primary elections because of what he says is a lack of coordination that is disenfranchising some voters. From the AP:
Primaries have been leapfrogging earlier and earlier nationwide over the past two decades. In 1980, only one state held a primary or caucus by the end of February, and by next year, that number could grow to more than 30.
[Bloomberg] said one problem is that small states with early primaries get loads of attention and therefore have a disproportionate say in picking the candidates, while their populations are “not really very representative.”
In many years, by the time the later states have their contests, the candidates are already chosen, he said. But for 2008, with so many primaries being moved earlier and closer together, clear front-runners may not emerge right away and those with later primaries may end up having a greater influence.
The schedule should be reevaluated and set by the federal government, he said. Others have floated similar overhauls, such as a single national primary day, but those ideas have not gotten off the ground.
“We should come up with a policy from a federal point of view and not let each state do it,” he said. “Because there’s no coordination and nobody’s focusing on what’s good for the public and good for the country in national elections; they’re only focusing on what’s good for the state.”
For a good overview of proposed changes to the election calendar, have a read of Tom Patterson’s The Vanishing Voter: Public Involvement in an Age of Uncertainty. Patterson’s solution to the lack of coordination that Bloomberg is talking about is to shorten the primary calendar, by starting it in mid-April “with a string of five state contentests spaced a week or two apart, followed by a month-long interval that would lead to a single day – Ultimate Tuesday – on which all forty-five remaining states would ballot.” He also suggests making Election Day a national holiday.
No word on how Bloomberg feels about changing Election Day, or whether he knows why it is we vote on Tuesday. If you run into him, let us know. To hear his comments about the primary schedule, click here to listen to his weekly radio program.