GOP Primary Madness?

 

bracketsSean Davis argues states should compete to hold the first-in-the-nation primary.

If coffee is for closers, then first-in-the-nation caucuses should be preserved for winners. Thankfully, I have a solution to this problem: instead of operating under a primary handout system, the GOP should require state parties to compete for the top primary calendar spots. That solves the massive incentive problem that currently plagues the party primary system.

He continues:

…Pick a handful of key metrics that will be used, be transparent about the formula and weights used to calculate results, and then let the winners divvy up the choice calendar spots among themselves.

What performance measures could be used? Perhaps percentage increases in the number of new voters registered, percentage increase in actual turnout, and percentage increases in money raised might be useful. An ability to deliver the state when it matters should count as well (sorry, Iowa, you get low marks on that one). A state’s bubble status—how close was the most recent presidential election—might also be a good factor to consider so you end up with a candidate who can appeal to voters across the political spectrum.

I love the idea of a BCS-like formula to select the first primary state. Here’s my take on the criteria:

  • Historical ability to pick the nominee (or perhaps a nominee that wins the general) should be a big factor.
  • Rewarding states that increase their registration/turnout numbers incentivizes all the right kinds of behavior.
  • Perhaps a large purple state (like say PA) should have more weight than a smaller deep red/blue state

Any other metrics that would be useful?

Another positive aspect of this is it would drive public interest and encourage participation in the party. People would feel invested in the outcome.

There are 18 comments.

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  1. user_357321 Inactive
    user_357321
    @Jordan

    I think they should all be on the same day.

    • #1
  2. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    This is a great idea, and will therefore never happen.

    • #2
  3. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Jordan Wiegand:I think they should all be on the same day.

    Only catch there is that the primary system allows us to identify particularly weak candidates before nomination.  They are given time to trip themselves up and be vetted.

    • #3
  4. kylez Member
    kylez
    @kylez

    Frank Soto:

    Jordan Wiegand:I think they should all be on the same day.

    Only catch there is that the primary system allows us to identify particularly weak candidates before nomination. They are given time to trip themselves up and be vetted.

    Or we eliminate people too good to win.

    • #4
  5. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Like, a Thunderdome battle royale?  That’d be sweeeeet.

    • #5
  6. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @

    As a resident of Pennsylvania who has never voted in a meaningful primary, I say Amen!  Unfortunately, I tend to agree with Frank (not going to happen).

    However, to play your game; I would be somewhat concerned that if swing states (or Pennsylvania which pretends to be a swing state) are given too much emphasis it would tend to benefit “moderate” candidates.  Any formula could tend to benefit a certain type of candidate.  I tend to favor more of a lottery system though some of the criteria you mention could determine how many ping-pong balls you have in the lottery (like how the do the NBA draft).

    • #6
  7. user_357321 Inactive
    user_357321
    @Jordan

    Frank Soto:

    Jordan Wiegand:I think they should all be on the same day.

    Only catch there is that the primary system allows us to identify particularly weak candidates before nomination. They are given time to trip themselves up and be vetted.

    I’m thinking like Thunderdome Tuesday, or something like that (we should probably call it this though).  We’d have, say an 8 week National primary free-for-all in the months leading up; plenty of time to get vetted, and probably do some horse-trading if it’s not looking good for a potential nominee.  Candidates wouldn’t be tripping over each other on the campaign trail, the ad-buys would be smaller, shorter, and sweeter.

    From a state that never gets any campaign stops it would be nice to see the playing field leveled, and to encourage candidates to actually run a national campaign.  The primaries are so wrapped up in local issues under the current system.  The Presidency is not a local office.  The platform should be national, and the issues discussed should be national issues.

    No one outside of Iowa likes the RFS, and literally no one outside of New Hampshire likes New Hampshire (I kid, but only a little), but for some reason all we get to hear about for the first months of primary season is how the RFS is like, totes super important for reasons, and how New Hampshire is totally the most important state in the union because Live Free or Die, or something.

    It feels like the primary candidates start out running for the New Hampshire house (which they might accidentally win one of these days, there being 400 seats) and finish running for the Governor of Florida.  I would prefer they run for President.

    I think of it more the National Conventions of the gilded age, but with every registered member a party boss.  A true National Convention, open to all party members, to choose a nominee all at once, on National issues.

    • #7
  8. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    I think if we just instituted trial by combat into the nomination process it would smooth over all of this primary nonsense. The winner of the combat gets the losers delegates, money, and people.

    • #8
  9. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @MattEdwards

    I tend to argue for all on same day as well. If for no other reason than this… on election day media outlets make it a policy to not declare a winner until all the polls have closed and no one else can vote, for risk of influencing voters who can only vote late in the day and find that their candidate isn’t winning. It happened in 2000 with the Bush favorite FL panhandle when the state was called for Gore because the peninsula polls closed an hour earlier.

    It’s the same scenario at the primary level. Once Iowa, SC, NH have had their say it’s usually doesn’t matter by the time Texas, Penn, and CA rolls around.

    • #9
  10. MJBubba Inactive
    MJBubba
    @MJBubba

    I think there should be bonus points for closed primaries.

    My view is that it would be most helpful to give early primaries to the most-purple states that voted for the GOP in the past round and that have closed primaries.  That way you get GOP voters who live in places that give them an understanding of who can win the general.  Give those voters a place near the head of the line in the winnowing process.

    • #10
  11. Belt Member
    Belt
    @Belt

    Some comments:

    1)  I read this article at The Federalist, and I approve – The primary system is in desperate need of an overhaul.  I like Trend’s suggestions, though I’d prefer just a rolling set of ‘batched’ primaries with a mix of types of states (small, large, rural, urban) to see how candidates appeal across a spectrum of constituencies.

    1.1)  I’d still like to see a small rural state (like Iowa) have some way to keep its interests afloat in the primary season rather than getting swamped out by the big electoral states.  They have their own interests.

    2)  I’m an Iowa farmboy, and I think it’s time to junk the caucus, and the straw poll.

    3)  I’d really like to see a candidate stand up for principle to any batch of voters and explain why he thinks their pet cause should not be supported at the federal level, because it doesn’t promote the good of the country.

    3.1)  I hate the ethanol subsidies myself and want them gone; but because I’m an Iowan it’s presumed that I must be pandered to on this issue because this will affect me (or my community) and therefore I want to support it regardless of any principles I hold.  The whole set of underlying assumptions here is corrupting, but they also may reflect a corrupted populace, so it’s natural that a politician will fall in line.

    • #11
  12. CandE Inactive
    CandE
    @CandE

    Everyone who decried Walker’s position on ethanol subsidies should be all about a change in the primary system.  The single biggest reason that every Republican candidate for the last 3 cycles has embraced the subsidies is that Iowa is the first state on the list.  Period.

    -E

    • #12
  13. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Here’s an idea — whoever shovels the most money into the RNC’s coffers gets to name the establishment hack of their choice.

    • #13
  14. Pilli Inactive
    Pilli
    @Pilli

    Valiuth:I think if we just instituted trial by combat into the nomination process it would smooth over all of this primary nonsense. The winner of the combat gets the losers delegates, money, and people.

    There can be only one!

    • #14
  15. user_385039 Inactive
    user_385039
    @donaldtodd

    I know that Iowa is first.  I have to believe that Iowa won’t be ceding its position by acquiescing to the proposed changes.  Iowa likes being first.

    One might suspect that same thing for the state that is second.  It will cede first to Iowa but isn’t looking to give up its favored position.

    There is what there is, and there is what might be but isn’t.

    However I do appreciate Valiuth‘s idea of trial by combat.  How do we beat the candidates into this particular competition?

    • #15
  16. zepplinmike Inactive
    zepplinmike
    @zepplinmike

    I favor this and the following ideas over the current system:

    1) The idea I’ve seen thrown around in the past on National Review and in other places where there’d be 4 regional “Super Tuesdays” a month apart each, with their order rotating each primary cycle. This way candidates with fewer resources can compete (with reduced travel and media costs) and different parts of the country get their chance to be pandered to for being the first to go.

    2) Something similar to the current system, but with an actual red state going first. Ideally also one that isn’t a net “taker” state with its own set of government subsidies to make sacred.

    3)…Really just any system where Iowa is not first. In fact, I’d like them to go last for the next 50 years or so and see how they like that.

    • #16
  17. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo
    @

    I’m not a particular fan of Iowa for going first.  Iowa has picked only one Republican winner in an open contest (Bush in 2000) and, since the Reagan landslide of 1984, has only gone for a Republican once (Bush in 2004) in the general election.

    That being said, Iowa was a one of the ten closest states in 2012.

    Of course, the closest state was Florida, followed by Ohio.  I don’t think a Republican has ever been elected without winning Ohio.

    • #17
  18. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Butters:bracketsSean Davis argues states should compete to hold the first-in-the-nation primary.

    If coffee is for closers, then first-in-the-nation caucuses should be preserved for winners. Thankfully, I have a solution to this problem: instead of operating under a primary handout system, the GOP should require state parties to compete for the top primary calendar spots. That solves the massive incentive problem that currently plagues the party primary system.

    He continues:

    …Pick a handful of key metrics that will be used, be transparent about the formula and weights used to calculate results, and then let the winners divvy up the choice calendar spots among themselves.

    What performance measures could be used? Perhaps percentage increases in the number of new voters registered, percentage increase in actual turnout, and percentage increases in money raised might be useful. An ability to deliver the state when it matters should count as well (sorry, Iowa, you get low marks on that one). A state’s bubble status—how close was the most recent presidential election—might also be a good factor to consider so you end up with a candidate who can appeal to voters across the political spectrum.

    I love the idea of a BCS-like formula to select the first primary state. Here’s my take on the criteria:

    • Historical ability to pick the nominee (or perhaps a nominee that wins the general) should be a big factor.
    • Rewarding states that increase their registration/turnout numbers incentivizes all the right kinds of behavior.
    • Perhaps a large purple state (like say PA) should have more weight than a smaller deep red/blue state

    Any other metrics that would be useful?

    Another positive aspect of this is it would drive public interest and encourage participation in the party. People would feel invested in the outcome.

    I’m a conservative. I prefer near-chaos.  If you try to rationalize it, that makes it too Soviet/Jeffersonian.

    • #18

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