Stop. Please. Just Stop.

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Arizona will become the twentieth state to hold its presidential primary on Feb. 5.

[Gov. Janet] Napolitano, a Democrat, believes Arizonans will benefit from having an early primary because candidates will be more likely to visit the state and learn about immigration, water and growth issues of concern in the state, Kroloff said.

"Sometimes they enter the presidential debates and sometimes they don't, but if you have Arizona in a position where we're early like this, the candidates are going to have to be in a position to think about them, and that's the advantage for Arizona," Kroloff said.

This is aneurysm-inducingly stupid. No, Arizonans, the candidates are not going to think about Arizona as much as they would have if you held your primary when baby Jesus wanted you to, three weeks later. By the first week of February the two parties' candidates will be recovering from the Florida primary on Jan. 29. They will have exactly one week to campaign in twenty states, most of which they've never really campaigned in because they were concentrating on the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries. So the candidates will be in triage mode, giving up one state here or there (Hillary ceding Illinois to Obama, Romney ceding New Jersey to Rudy) and stumping in, probably, California, because no one will be able to continue on without winning there. The rest of the states will become irrelevant, handing their votes to the frontrunners… who might not look so strong after California, but by then it'll be too late.

And all of that assumes that someone talks Michigan out of its tantrum and gets that state not to hold a primary on Jan. 15 like Sen. Carl Levin wants to.

This whole process has been a joke, an Otis-the-Drunk-worthy bender of stupidity by the country's most craven political minds. We could put L. Paul Bremer in charge and still come out with a better system.

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  1. I say we amend the Constitution to sever the link between party and the state: Parties can form, they can act privately, but the state and federal governments will only supply resources for the general election. Primaries are a freedom of association thing, a way to select one candidate from the set to which some voters belong. And that’s great and all, but there’s no reason the state should be involved in that, it gives too much authority to the parties.

  2. Here’s a fine example of when I think federalism should over-ride state’s rights (because it is an election to decide federal positions.)

    Move all primaries to the 2nd Tuesday of June. One gigantic free-for-all. If the states want to have state-level elections on another day, let them.

    Just a tiny little bit of what wrong with this country can be corrected, I think, by not letting Iowa (or any other state) have such a huge say in who gets to be president. And, as a bonus, we can maybe hear less coverage of the election starting 19 months out…

  3. I personally favor the Delaware Plan to fix this mess. From the fairvote.org website–

    Delaware Plan: Under the Delaware Plan, the states would be put into four groups according to population. The smallest 12 states, plus federal territories, would vote first, followed by the next smallest 13 states, then the 13 medium-sized states, and finally the 12 largest states. These four consolidated primaries would occur on the first Tuesday of each month, beginning in March and ending in June. Although having valuable benefits, the main disadvantage to this plan is candidates having to compete in 12 states in the very first primary, which makes retail politicking harder, and the fact the states are always in the same order.

    It would still give lesser known candidates a chance to catapult to the top since the smaller states are less expensive to advertise in, without keeping the really stupid tradition of Iowa and New Hampshire having to go first.

  4. Florida thumbed its nose at the national parties

    Finally, something I can be proud of from my current residence.

    Go Florida! Who hoo! Maybe if we fuck up the primary schedule enough, politicians won’t be able to win primaries based of a strategist’s calculations and, you know…

    actually get people to vote for them based on issues rather than what New Hampshire did last week.

  5. Let’s just have all the states go on the same day three years before the actual election. That way, the candidates of each party have plenty of time to be torn down to complete irrelevance by the time of the actual election. Then, after winning the popular vote by 3% with only 20% of the country voting, the president will be a lame duck from the first day with no “mandate”.

  6. Ever since I was a kid, I never quite understood why the states were dictating to political parties when the primary elections should be held. Aren’t they their own parties? Why don’t they work it out themselves how and when they choose their respective nominees…. (And, I might add, on their own dime.)

  7. > I say we amend the Constitution to sever the link between party and the state…

    <whine>But how would we regulate campaign finance contributions?</whine>

  8. So what’s the end game? National parties can’t penalize the state parties by discounting the value of their vote.

    I guess we just have to run through this obvious clusterfuck before we get to make a compact in time for 2012.

  9. Next thing they’ll be having their primaries for 2012 in the summer of 2008. Why wait? Four YEARS of campainging.

  10. This whole process has been a joke,

    Absolutely. So by all means, PLEASE continue the joke! The sooner we stop the taxpayer subsidization of political parties the better.

  11. The sooner we stop the taxpayer subsidization of political parties the better.

    I’m doing my part by not voting. Of course, that just leads them to spending more of money to “get out the vote”. Sigh.


  12. I’m doing my part by not voting. Of course, that just leads them to spending more of money to “get out the vote”. Sigh.

    Write in candidates is the way to go. Jefferson-Madison in ’08.

  13. Anything to shake up the electoral system has got to be good. Especially if it isn’t a top-down good-government type change.

    Throwing this crap into chaos, disrupting all the stagnant campaign strategies is an unmitigated good.

    I’m about at my limit of aw-shucks corn farmer town hall circle-jerk campaigning. This kind of free-for all might help.

  14. Florida did this to reduce the influence of Iowa. Why?

    1. Because the disproportionate influence of Iowa on the primaries results in Big Corn having a major voice.
    2. Big Corn is pushing ethanol.
    3. Ethanol demand is driving agave growers to burn their crops in favor of planting corn.
    4. Agave is used to make tequila.
    5. Tequila is used to make margaritas.
    6. Margaritaville is in Florida.

    Therefore, the whole move was designed to protect Big Tourism.

    Timothy’s point is excellent–many of the ills of our system could be addressed by killing the official status of the parties in the local, state, and federal governments.

  15. And that’s great and all, but there’s no reason the state should be involved in that, it gives too much authority to the parties.

    The Constitution does not speak about primaries at all (well, except for the 24th), so I’m not sure why an amendment is necessary. All a state needs to do is say “We’re not funding a primary vote. The parties are on their own.”

    I really can’t get all worked up about this though. I don’t see what the big deal is.

  16. What are you all complaining about? Arizona’s new primary is merely seven months and one week earlier than their midterm primary.

  17. The States will never willingly pull back from these shenanigans.
    “All a state needs to do is say “We’re not funding a primary vote. The parties are on their own.””
    But who makes these decisions on behalf of the states? Partisan shills in the state gov’t, who depend on the parties.
    So the people can reduce the parties influence, right? Wrong! In my beloved Washington State, we fixed our local primary system (blanket primary) but then the parties sued, saying it infringes on their rights! And they won!
    The parties are the problem with this country at every level of government. To quote Waking Life: Do you want the puppet on the right, or the puppet on the left?

  18. without keeping the really stupid tradition of Iowa and New Hampshire having to go first.

    We’re not stupid for voting first. Everyone else is stupid for paying attention.

  19. If the candidates running had national reputations built on accomplishments then they wouldn’t have to be running all over shaking every voters hand and burning up private airliner miles.

  20. Does anyone really think that any of this is going to change the quality of the person who ends up being elected president?

  21. MP: In an ideal world an amendment isn’t needed, but I think it might be required to stop the shenanigans once and for all. Not like those power-hungry fuckwits would pass the thing, though, too threatening to their power and too liberty-positive.

  22. [Gov. Janet] Napolitano, a Democrat, believes Arizonans will benefit from having an early primary because candidates will be more likely to visit the state and learn about immigration, water and growth issues of concern in the state, Kroloff said

    This is exactly what’s wrong with this country. People actually think that the president should care about water and growth issues of concern in their state.

  23. In an ideal world an amendment isn’t needed, but I think it might be required to stop the shenanigans once and for all. Not like those power-hungry fuckwits would pass the thing, though, too threatening to their power and too liberty-positive.

    Still though, I can’t get worked up about this. There’s too much power invested in the Executive branch to believe that any change in the primary system would result in a net positive.

  24. Hey look what I found in the attic! I should have dusted this one off months ago.

    Doot doot doodle do do doot doot doo doot.

  25. The really absurd thing is that the ostensible aim of all this jockeying of the schedule is to allow states to gain influence and force candidates to devote campaigning time to the states, but it’s likely to have the opposite effect.

    Not even the best-funded candidates can campaign everywhere. Even starting as early as they started this time. If they start even earlier, even fewer people will pay attention. The front-loading of the primaries that is going on will effectively eliminate retail campaigning entirely, handing all the delegates out to the candidate with the highest name recognition right at the outset of the process.

  26. MP: Unfortunately, I think you’re right.

    *sigh*

  27. So, the head dyke in charge thinks the President of the USA should do something about the lack of water and the increase in population of the freaking desert? She should really be focusing on making signs to put at our western border telling the damn Kommiefornians to stay the hell out.

  28. If no one has locked up the nomination by February 6th, all of the states that decided not to jump on the February 5th bandwagon are going to have the last laugh.

    My prediction is that Texas will be the decisive battleground, on March 4th. By not moving up to February 5th, they may have increased their influence considerably.

  29. What is this voting crap? Voting is the prerogative of fools. I didn’t think fools read Reason.

    Announcing the vote totals, now that is a manly pursuit. Those that announce the results always see their candidates win.

    As for the uber-Tuesday, well you have got to have a massive early primary schedule if you are going to head off an obvious second tier candidate from having time to build up his supporter numbers to the point where he poses a overt threat to your victorious candidate’s vote totals. No sireee.

  30. This is aneurysm-inducingly stupid. No, Arizonans, the candidates are not going to think about Arizona as much as they would have if you held your primary when baby Jesus wanted you to, three weeks later.

    Never mind that the east coast has like a billion senators and the west coast has 6 (10 if you include Alaska and Hawaii) …now he has a hissy fit that New england might not keep its monopoly on choosing the president.

  31. Sheesh, I remember when New Hampshire’s primary was in March, and it was considered such a hardship for candidates to campaign in the snow — and not many states even had primaries! And the trends do seem to self-accelerate. What happened to the rule at least one of the major national parties had, that they wouldn’t seat delegates selected earlier than, uh, whenever?

  32. Seems like the smart thing to do would be for a big state with enough votes to swing the election — CA, NY, etc. — to hold their primary weeks or even months after everyone else had held their primary. If it’s a close election, they’d have all the remaining candidates’ undivided attention.

    This would work for small states, too, though they’d be better off being near the end of the primaries rather than at the very end. If you want to make an impact with a speech, have your most memorable lines at the beginning and end of the speech. If you want to make a normally ignored small state (like mine, Hawaii) to have any impact, make sure you’re one of the last states standing, and hope it comes down to the wire.

  33. The parties already have a way to stop this nonsense. Each state gets a certain number of delegates (basically primary “votes”) , but the number of delegates is not really determined by population. It is determined mostly by how many reps, senators, governors and other elected officials from the party hold office in that state. The party is free to make it’s own rules regarding how many delegates each state gets.

    My understanding is that both Dem and Rep parties have rules that say you can’t have your primary before a certain date, and if you do, you lose delegates. So far neither party has had the balls to enforce the rules and “fine” an offending state by reducing their delegates. If the parties don’t grow some juevos and take charge, we are soon going to have a primary season starting the day after Christmas in the year BEFORE the general election.

    Bottom line: the parties are going to need to step in and take charge to put an end to this nonsense. As long as party officials keep giving in to these bonehead state politicians, things are going to keep getting crazier.

  34. I’m still trying to find a good reason why I should care when any state wants to have its primaries.

  35. Like several commenters here, my choice would be a single nation-wide primary. However, I’d hold it the Tuesday after Labor Day, with both parties holding their national conventions one week later.

  36. One candidate to two states (Iowa & New Hampshire) yields roughly 50% candidate attention per state. Lots of ads and big rallies but also lots of town hall type events, small town parade route walks, talking with actual voters, etc.

    One candidate to 18 states yields roughly 0% attention per state. Lots of ad buys and big rallies. Each state may get a visit or maybe two if they’re bigger. Some candidates will write entire states off entirely conceding to rivals with a built in advantage like geography.

    I don’t see the logic in what the line jumpers are doing. It’s self-defeaing for the states if they want more attention in the primary cycle and almost guarantees the eventual winner will be the conventional wisdom candidate with the biggest bank roll.

    Breaking – Michigan Senate voted yesterday to move their primary to Jan. 15, but it still needs to be passed by the House.

  37. I agree with Timothy.

    I was born and raised in Iowa and I have a slightly different take on the reasoning behind an early primary.

    This is casual and I’d welcome a comment from anyone not as lazy as me who has done some actual research, but it always seemed that which candidate won in Iowa was irrelevant to winning the presidency. If a minor candidate won, he would be out of money soon. It almost seemed like a ploy to get candidates with no chance weeded out of the race in a place that didn’t matter.

    On the other hand, what Iowa got out of it was a ton of cash from campaigns, media, etc. I don’t think Iowa got any disproportionate influence over policy.

  38. […] Parties can form, they can act privately, but the state and federal governments will only supply resources for the general election. Primaries are a freedom of association thing, a way to select one candidate from the set to which some voters belong. And that’s great and all, but there’s no reason the state should be involved in that, […]

    Here, here!

    How id it happen that the states are involved at all?

    Anyone have a link where I can educate myself?

  39. Having NH and Iowa decide the race made much less sense. That disenfranchised 95% of the country.

    They should just have all the primaries on Feb 5th.

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