DNC changes in the air

It looks like everyones (including Obama) desire, of lessening the power of super-delegates in the nomination process, is running into a bit of resistance.

There's a "change" committee. The "Draft Report of the Democratic Change Commission" is at work now. Any changes proposed will have to go through the Rules committee. Here's what seems to be a compromise, as a manner of protecting the super-delegate's self-interest, while decreasing their importance:

The real fight will happen when the Change Commission gives their recommendations to the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee. Each member of the RBC is a super-delegate, making it unlikely they will happliy give away their own power, or that of their colleagues on the DNC.

Brazile, who is not on the Change Commission but is a member of the RBC, previewed one potential compromise by suggesting the number of elected delegates pledged to future presidential candidates be increased, so that the percentage of total delegates who are unelected is reduced.

I think to be real meaningful, it'd have to move the 19% of unpledged delegates to single-digits, which is probably impossible, given how much that would increase the total number of convention delegates. So what are we looking at-- a change of 19% decreased to 15-17% through an increased amount of pledged delegates? Incremental, but better than the status quo.

On to the other change, that of the calendar:

Commission members, who range from lawmakers and grassroots activists to President Obama's campaign manager, are charged with putting forth recommendations to help expand the Democratic base and increase more ethnic and regional diversity in choosing the party's presidential nominee in 2016 and beyond, assuming Obama seeks a second term.

A commission suggestion would be to allow the first four states that held nominating contests in the January 2008 maintain their early, privileged calendar positions. But these states - Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina - would be directed to delay holding their caucuses and primaries before February 1. All other states would be forbidden from holding their nominating contests until at least the first Tuesday in March.

Another recommendation in the report suggested grouping states by "region or sub-region."

"This would not be a mandatory obligation upon the state parties," the commission stated. "The commission recommends that these clusters be staggered throughout the window to allow for a deliberative process that benefits all voters and caucus-goers through the country."

States parties that abided by the DNC's calendar would be rewarded by getting special perks at the national nominating convention.

yep, Iowa and New Hampshire go first. Its fine with me.

The best case scenario for these sort of fiascoes is not increased control by the DNC of the nomination process, but having no calendar control at all. Until crazy total-control ideas like regional primaries no longer get brought up as solutions, I'll stick with the prediction that the process will only work as long as it doesn't matter, and when it does matter, we'll get things like '08.

But not in '12 for Democrats. '12 is going to be the year of the Republican nomination fiasco. Given their winner-take-all glut of contests, its ripe for happening if they don't decide quickly (like they always do).

Oh yea, the 3rd change (or lack thereof): Caucuses. How could I forget. It only really worked in Iowa, and even there, it took a lot longer than it needs too. I really liked the caucus from a political standpoint, as I could stand there and examine the total demographic that existed in each candidates space for 45 minutes while they all stood together. Other than that, well, neighbors got to talk to eachother, terrific too. As an electoral process, its weak, and needs to be abolished everywhere but Iowa. It sounds like they will implement a "best practices" like the "learn from Iowa" process that was used in Nevada (oh, that worked like a gem).

Tags: 2012 (all tags)



caucus reforms are badly needed

but I don't know anyone in Iowa who agrees with my ideas for improving the system.

You're right--caucuses are even worse in other states. They don't get the months-long party-building benefits of caucuses, but they have all the disenfranchising consequences.

by desmoinesdem 2009-12-06 07:35AM | 0 recs
Re: caucus reforms are badly needed

Minnesota uses a firehouse primary with the caucus. While I'd like to see a provision for absentee but it seems a workable alternative. I'd much prefer a requirement that each state have both a caucus and a primary on different dates with no more at least a third of the delegates awarded in either.

by Judeling 2009-12-06 09:46AM | 0 recs
Change we can believe in !!

by Ravi Verma 2009-12-06 09:29AM | 0 recs
Re: DNC changes in the air

Super Delegates will always be a problem because the rule makers are the Delegates. So the compromise should be that these delegates cannot announce their vote (as opposed to their support) prior to the end of the primary season. That should be coupled with a strong statement encouraging Super Delegates to vote with their constituents desires. That at least moves most of the headlines and political maneuvering later in the season.

by Judeling 2009-12-06 09:32AM | 0 recs
I don't fully agree

with the focus on the superdelegates.

We also need to reform the way pledged delegates are allocated, so that we don't get one candidate netting 12 pledged delegates from a 13,000 vote win in Idaho while another candidate nets 12 pledged delegates from a 100,000 vote win in New Jersey (for instance).

by desmoinesdem 2009-12-06 10:02AM | 0 recs
Re: I don't fully agree

Your thoughts on civic culture?

New Hampshire had the highest turnout of any primary, somewhere around 55% and Iowa had the highest turnout of any caucus, mid-high teens.

I think civic culture has something to do with this. Both in Iowa and New Hampshire, citizens just seem to care more and take their roles seriously.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-06 11:54AM | 0 recs
Re: I don't fully agree

Couldn't these numbers just as well reflect the fact that these states get national attention for their primaries?  Perhaps we would see similar results from other states in their position?  

by orestes 2009-12-07 06:12AM | 0 recs

it is not because they are more virtuous.

It is because of the national attention and money that gets lavished on these states.  Over $60 million was spent in Iowa by the Democrats alone!

by fladem 2009-12-07 07:47AM | 0 recs
Re: I don't fully agree

Want to hear a good idea that will reward whichever state really has the best "civic culture"?

Whichever state has the highest rate of voter participation on election day, let them go first for the next cycle.

by Steve M 2009-12-07 09:24AM | 0 recs
Re: I don't fully agree

That's an interesting idea.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-07 09:26AM | 0 recs
Re: DNC changes in the air

For all the yap yap yap about superdelegates last year I really don't see how they are a major problem.  It's wise to have an undemocratic check on the process considering that the process is nowhere near perfectly democratic in the first place due to turnout, scheduling, etc.  Caucus reform seems much more pertinent, and I would be 100% in favor of abolishing them everywhere outside of Iowa.

It still bothers me that we're right back to sucking up to New Hampshire after the way they were allowed to violate the schedule last year with no penalty at all.  Why don't we just ask them to draw up the schedule for all 50 states, since they're going to get their way no matter what.

by Steve M 2009-12-06 10:12AM | 0 recs
Re: DNC changes in the air

I think the only "super-delegates" should be elected Reps of Congress (House & senate). Enough with the DNC appointees, ex presidents, governors or whathaveu.

Then say that supers can only make up 1/4th or fewer of a states total delegate number. Or that supers only count for 1/2 vote in the convention floor.

Otherwise leave it up to the state parties on how they want to organize it - caucus or primary or hybrid, open or closed, etc, etc... as long as such rules are set atleast 2 years prior to the national convention.

by vecky 2009-12-06 12:56PM | 0 recs
Re: DNC changes in the air

Everyone vote on one day and whoever gets the most votes wins.

by nikkid 2009-12-06 07:07PM | 0 recs
I have no idea

why we continue to give in to Iowa and New Hampshire.  The idea that two states should have the power they have year after strikes me as absurd.

I also have no idea why there are non-elected delegates either.

by fladem 2009-12-07 07:45AM | 0 recs


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