Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Preposterous Primaries

We are within a few days of the first presidential primary for 2016 followed shortly by the second election. Does anyone else see the ridiculousness of the attention paid to these first two tests of the candidates?

Those first two contests are Iowa and New Hampshire. I realize that the selection process has to start somewhere but these two states should not be where we begin or at least not put such emphasis on.

A few boring facts about these states. Iowa is the 30th state in population with about 3.1 million people, 91% White. That is 0.9% of the US total. They have four House of Representative seats. New Hampshire is even smaller, ranking #41 with 1.3 million residents, 94% White, 0.41% of the US. They have only two House seats.

So, we have about 1.31% of the US population, almost all White, getting all the attention for months. Neither state has a really large city or urban area either yet they get to set the tone for the primary season.

To make matters even more obscure, Iowa doesn't actually have a normal primary election. They have caucuses, whatever the hell that is. In this convoluted process, voters meet at the precinct level to discuss and elect delegates to the 99 county conventions which elect delegates to the state convention which elects delegates to the national party conventions. Got all that? So, on caucus (primary) day, the voters don't actually cast a vote for a candidate but for a delegate. That goes on for several iterations. 

The candidates spend an inordinate amount of time and money in these two states. The news media reports and analyzes every visit to the local cafe by the contenders. They conduct polls every 15 minutes and then spend 15 hours, on air, interpreting the numbers. 

The whole exercise is mostly a circus. 

I would hope that by 2020 we have a better system for choosing the major parties' presidential candidates. There is no need to give these two states such an outsized influence on national politics. I don't have the answer, but maybe a more diverse mix of states should have primaries right at he start, maybe on the same day. Oh yes, we really need to eliminate this caucus BS. It's the 21st century, we don't need to be choosing delegates who have to travel days by horseback to the county seat or state capitol to cast votes on our behalf. 

The only good thing about these early primaries (caucuses) is that the candidate field will start to be reduced. Of course, that does not mean that the campaigns will become any more substantive.

What do you think?


No comments:

Post a Comment