Why the Dems Should Start Their Primaries in Mid-2007

This is my personal pipe-dream: Howard Dean suddenly announces that the Iowa caucuses will be held in the third week of June 2007, followed by the New Hampshire primary in mid-September, the Nevada caucuses in late October, and the South Carolina primary the first week of December.  Then the rest of the primary schedule picks up in 2008.

There are several reasons I have this pipe dream, and they're all about the people claiming the process back from the media and the big donors.  The first reason is that it would give some actual voters the opportunity to interject themselves into the media narrative (Hillary v. Obama) between now and January 2008.  The fact that we're already well into campaign season, but nobody actually votes for ten months, gives the media far too much room to define the race.

A second reason is to reduce the impact of an early cash advantage.  There will only be three weeks between Iowa and the 2/5/08 Super Tuesday.  No matter who wins Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, at most two candidates will have the money to already have meaningful campaign organizations set up in all the Super Tuesday states.  Which candidates will they be?  The ones best at raking in the dough from the big contributors - Hillary, and perhaps Obama.  Even if Edwards sweeps the early primaries, he still probably won't have a ground game in many of the Super Tuesday states, because he probably won't have that sort of money.  And Richardson, Dodd, Wes Clark (if he runs), and the rest are in the same predicament, only worse.

The third reason is time for reflection between primaries - time to take a second look at the frontrunner, and decide: are we happy with who it looks like our nominee might be?  Time between primaries gives the voters in later primaries a chance to really decide how they feel about the candidates before affirming or undoing what the voters in the first few primaries did.  It gives us the chance to experience 'buyer's remorse' and decide what to do about it, before we've closed the deal.

Fourth, the success or failure of various stands (or absence of stands) on the issues in the early primaries might force candidates to re-examine their positions and bring them in line with what the Democratic voters want, rather than responding primarily to the media echo chamber for the next ten months.  

This might also help get the message through to Congress about what Democratic voters want, particularly on the war.  With the primaries as they are, there's no obvious way for us to follow up the November 2006 message until January 2008, which will be too late for ending the war during Bush's term.

Those are the main advantages from my perspective.  There are a couple of minor ones.  Having just a few early primaries in 2007, with plenty of time between each one and the next, would make it easier for second-tier candidates to survive a couple of fourth-place finishes, see what was working, and adapt before the going gets serious in 2008.

My final reason is aesthetic.  Can we get past this quadrennial tromping through the snows of Iowa and New Hampshire, and put those states on the primary calendar at times that show them to their best advantage?  The Field of Dreams exchange, "Is this heaven?""No, it's Iowa" sure wouldn't have made sense in January.  And I can personally attest that New Hampshire is beautiful in September - though the primary should be in that window between the summer tourist season and the fall foliage season.  Then, as the weather cools, we can move on to Nevada and South Carolina.

Needless to say, this is a total pipe dream.  It would never happen.  

But dammit, it should.

Tags: 2008, Democrats, Media, Primaries (all tags)



Re: Why the Dems Should Start Their Primaries in M

If you're gonna make that big of a change, top down, to the calendar, then why would you move the front up instead of the back, back?

Good question.

1) For reason #1 I gave above.  The media's narrative will dominate this campaign until we have either (a) a scandal, or (b) some actual results.  Choice (b) is preferable.

2) You can move the front closer by moving only four primaries - fewer, if you wanted.  But to make the Dem primary system more backloaded, you'd need to move dozens of primaries back.  I'd prefer that, on the whole (although not this year, for reason #1), but the difficulties of doing that in the next 11 months (i.e. by 2/5/08) are nearly insurmountable, no matter how many people supported it.  It's a good goal for 2012, though.

by RT 2007-03-04 11:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Why the Dems Should Start Their Primaries in M

you might be able to talk about doing this for the next primaries in 2012.. and the time to get it on the table is after the next presidential elections... anything else is impractical..

as far as these primaries what yo propose is a non starter.

by serge in dc 2007-03-04 01:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Why the Dems Should Start

at the rate things are going we will have a nomaniee on Feb 5th 2008

by orin76 2007-03-05 08:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Why the Dems Should Start Their Primaries in M

I'm not sure what you mean.  January 2008 is the date of the first Dem primaries/caucuses, as currently scheduled.  I don't think I referred to that month in any other context.

by RT 2007-03-05 10:08AM | 0 recs


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