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Monday, January 21, 2008

Why Do We Do It This Way, Again?

So, the first sets of primaries are almost over. The Dems will have their first in the South, SC, later this week and then everyone will focus on Florida. It is time again for my primary rant, and to ask why do we do it this way again?

Let's look at some of the things that happened. Mike Huckabee won in Iowa on the strength of a huge Christian Conservative contingent. That is all well and good but Iowa is in no way representative of the rest of the country in terms of the representation of Christian Conservatives in the Republican party. John McCain won in NH. NH is a state with a heavy independent contingent. He appealed to independents, who number about as many as Reps and Dems, and went on to victory. In Michigan, Mitt Romney rode his native son status to victory.

On the Democratic side, we have had three major states vote and as of yet there has not been any significant numbers of African Americans able to vote. Worse than that, in Iowa only 200,000 people voted for both parties. Thus, 200,000 people played a vital role in an election for a country with a population of about 300,000,000.

Ethanol is an alternative fuel that has been explored for viability as an alternative to petroleum. Some believe it gets too much exploration. Studies have found that the best case scenario would have only about 15% of our automobiles being powered by ethanol. Well, John Stossel, among many, believes that ethanol gets too much attention because Iowa, a state with a plethora of corn, is the first state to vote in the primaries.

So, why do we do it this way again? What I can't understand is how two relatively unimportant states have held the rest of the country hostage and forced their will upon it. Why again is it that these two states are always the first two to vote? There is absolutely no logical rhyme or reason for having them ALWAYS go first, and I have pointed out one piece of evidence of how this dynamic twists our politics.

By having Iowa and NH go first every single time, what we do is create winners out of candidates best suited to field those states. These two relatively small states have unique demographic makeup. You saw how well Huckabee took advantage of it in Iowa, and how effective it was for McCain. You see how it has caused Rudy to stay down low until Florida and caused him to ride an extremely risky strategy. Furthermore, Barack Obama has not been able to compete in a state where African Americans make up a large contingent yet. Had Hillary won both Iowa and NH, this race would have been virtually over before any significant numbers of African Americans had voted.

For the life of me, I can't figure out why the rest of the nation cedes so much power to these two states. Michigan moved its primary up and the DNC cancelled their delegates and the state was moot for them. Yet, Iowa and NH insist that they go first every single time, and no one challenges them. It's as though they would revolt and secede from the country if the rest of us dared to challenge their "right" to host the two first elections.

Meanwhile huge states like California, Texas, and Illinois are nearly irrelevant in the primary process. This is despite the fact that their populations are not only much larger but also much more diverse. It is random and illogical to have two relatively random and small states like NH and Iowa play such a huge role in the primary process. SC, which normally chooses third, has chosen the Republican winner every single time. How is it fair, or logical, or proper to have this relatively small state be such a power player in the primary process?

My state, Illinois, will finally have some say in the selection process since it was moved up to Super Tuesday. There has never been an election in the primaries where the candidates paid any attention to Illinois. By the time Iowa votes, most of the candidates will have traveled to nearly each of their counties. I doubt any county but the most important, Cook, ever sees any candidate in Illinois.

There is absolutely no reason for this and I can't figure out why we all continue to do it. This is puzzling much like the BCS. In both cases, we have a flawed system that everyone knows and agrees is flawed. In both, no one seems to want to do anything about it.


StormWarning said...

Its called "sheeple." No state is moot unless the voters in that state think that voting in their state's primary is moot. Yet the convention delegates result from the primaries.


mike volpe said...

It's moot because by the time Texas rolls around the nominee has already been selected and everyone else has already dropped out.

It is asinyne to allow Iowa to have more influence in selecting the nominee than Texas. Yet, Texas which doesn't vote until March will play absolutely no role in the primary. In the meantime, nearly every candidate will see nearly every county in Iowa. That just doesn't make any sense.