A single nationwide primary would pretty much ensure that the candidate with the most money to get their message out would win over any newcomer. One of the biggest arguments for small states like Iowa and NH to have early primaries/caucuses is that it allows (some might say requires) retail politics and it allows smaller market players to get a voice.
I don’t think forcing a single day is good. States need to be able to pick days that work for their weather/government/etc. and they should have some leeway in what and how they do it, like oddball Washington that does both a caucus (Feb) and a vote (May).
I do think we need to tighten them up, though. I don’t think there should be more than a month between the primaries, or six weeks at the most. This February to June nonsense is broken. By the time I get to cast a binding vote here in Washington, it’s pretty much over.
One good thing about the staggered primary system is that it allows for a culling of the herd. Four candidates have already dropped out since Iowa, and the people who were supporting them can make another choice in future state primaries. In a single nationwide primary, all the people who supported Martin O’Malley or Rand Paul would have just thrown their votes away.
It would give too much advantage to the person who leaps out early on by virtue of his celebrity and/or money. Perhaps this would have given us Giuliani in 2008 and Trump in 2016. No thanks. The present system allows the candidates to be slowly tested and be forced to define themselves. The current system works, though the first two states are very much atypical of the nation as a whole and we could find better labs to test the candidates in.
A lengthy process that starts one small state at a time has the advantages of giving relatively low-budget candidates a chance to get into the game and providing a venue for grassroots-level politics. That said, there’s no good reason for the same couple of states to monopolize the role – there should be a system of drawing lots at a reasonable time frame (a couple of months before the primaries start). To maximize these advantages, I’d put the dozen or so lowest-population states into the drawing for the first few dates, and then randomize the rest.
Maybe something that could be considered is “sub-state” primaries. For some of these larger states (population-wise), just pick a single Congressional district at random and hold the primary in just that district. That way you could get “retail” and “representative” at the same time.
NPR recently did a piece figuring that Iowa’s neighbor is just about a perfect match for the country on race/ethnicity, and comes close enough to being typical on income and age and religion and et cetera, plus has the whole urban/rural/suburbs thing going on, such that there’s pretty much no reason not to look to Illinois first.
OK, as long as people are tossing out pet ideas, here’s mine.
Fourteen-week primary calendar, starting in late April. Two voting days per week, two states/territories vote per day. The 56 slots are assigned by random drawing in January.
This shortens the overall calendar, removes any persistent bias of particular states having particular scheduling, and enhances the value of a graduated and differentiated process. It allows (or requires) candidates to pursue a variety of strategies, scattered around the country and addressing various issues and electorates. More work for the press corps, but also a lot more interest, across the country.
Not just money, but access to the candidates would suffer if there was one nationwide primary. Being president is isolating enough; at least the current system has the candidates out and meeting with ordinary voters. I like the image of a candidate giving a speech in a school gymnasium or dropping in on a small diner during breakfast, I just don’t think it should be the same schools and diners every four years. I would rotate the calendar each cycle; let someone else have the candidates sucking up to them for a change. I wouldn’t limit it to just the less populated states, though. California deserves a turn as much as Delaware, and more than Iowa and New Hampshire.
Yeah, well, clearly they’ve prioritized the timing over weather, so that they can dominate the national conversation for four months. Hence the reason I think we need to tighten it up at least a little.
But I’m sure the weather helps to keep less-motivated voters at home (for better or worse).
By the way, I’m not saying that a single day would be some insurmountable barrier. We make a single day work for the final Presidential election. It can be done.
This. I think if the primaries had all been on the same day, we would probably have gotten Trump as the Republican nominee. As it currently stands, I think Rubio get to build up his momentum until March 15th. Rubio will probably clinch the nomination that day with the winner takes all Florida primary. Whether you consider this a good thing or a bad thing I can’t answer.
I live in California, which is fantastic, because by the time we have our primaries, they don’t matter any more. I violently oppose any attempt to change this system. I’ve heard what Iowa is like in the run up to the primaries, and I don’t want any part of that clown show.