So maybe we don’t like the presidential primary system, but whaddayagonna do?

by TrogloPundit | July 2, 2011 2:23 pm

Six and a half months out, and Republican presidential candidates are already flocking to Iowa. New Hampshire, too. And for good reason: if the same candidate wins both those states, that candidate’s likely to be the Republican nominee for President. On the other hand, a candidate who does poorly in either or both is likely to be spending more time at home.

Whichever outcome for whichever candidate, it’ll be determined well before most states have a chance to weigh in.

That rankles. Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does. And so states have sought to leapfrog each other, hoping to avoid the sheepishly impotent meaninglessness that late primaries tend to become. It was an issue in 2008. It might be one again in 2012[1].

The rub: Iowa and New Hampshire have both pledged to always — always — hold theirs first, even if they have to move into December.

Hey, I’ve got nothing against the fine people of Iowa and New Hampshire. South Carolina, either. Or Nevada. Still, early primaries weed out candidates that I might otherwise have supported. Candidates who might have had more success, had the primary trail started somewhere else.

Maybe we Cheeseheads would have supported Tommy Thompson in 2008, if we’d had the chance. Maybe Mitch Daniels would have run this year if Indiana’s primary was scheduled for February instead of May. Maybe Georgia is really excited to vote for their own Herman Cain when Super Tuesday comes along.

Too bad, though, Georgia, if he doesn’t do well in January. If Iowa and New Hampshire don’t like him, you might not get that chance.

The bottom line is, having the same few states go first every time isn’t fair. Not to the voters, who have to watch others pick and choose candidates for them; not for the candidates, whose chances might be better or worse depending on their ties to the early states.

But what do we do about that?

We could hold a single, nationwide primary. But if we did, what chance would lesser-known candidates have? Candidates would have to start running even earlier than they do today. And the money? Fugghedaboudit.

Okay, so how about regional primaries, with revolving dates? The Midwest goes first this time; then next time it’s the Northeast; then the Southeast…that wouldn’t eliminate the size or money issues of the single national primary, but it would help.

We could just do away with primaries altogether, and pick candidates at the national conventions. Political parties are, after all, private organizations. They can do that if they want.

What say we let the Democrats go first on that one.

Or, how about my favorite: just let me pick. I’m hardly an all-knowing, all-seeing political and historical savant, but I’ll tell you what: if we’d had the Lance Burri method in place fifteen years ago, we’d have avoided Bob Dole. John McCain, too.

Of course, any Republican candidate was behind the eight ball in those years, so my chosen candidates still would have lost. Probably. And since opportunity cost is a harsh little bitch, nobody would know that it could have — in fact would have — been worse if not for me.

So I’d be getting blamed.

Feh. Go ahead and blame me. I’m too busy picking next year’s nominee to notice.

Enough daydreaming. Unless Isaac Asimov was a prophet as well as a science fiction writer, the Lance Burri Republican Presidential Nominee Selection Process will never, ever come to pass.

Neither, it seems likely, will any of the others. Which is fine. It all amounts to searching for the perfectly fair solution, and as usual, there isn’t one. Every system benefits some at the expense of others.

And, really, is the current system so bad? Sure, if we could pick any state to make the first choices, we’d pick Wisconsin. Duh. But Iowa’s a good runner-up. They have a lot in common with the people of Wisconsin. New Hampshire and South Carolina? Maybe they lave less in common with us, but…well, which states would I prefer make these decisions? New York? Washington? California?

Maybe this system isn’t so bad after all.

  1. It might be one again in 2012:

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