For those of you who thought having an Iowa caucus right after New Year’s Day (and a full ten months before the election) was ridiculous, well, we may just see this happen again.
In a Politico story from Friday, writer Emily Schultheis revealed that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is considering moving their primary – already scheduled prior to a date authorized by both parties (February 28, 2012) – to January 31. “It only makes sense that our state have its voice heard loud and clear,” said Brewer. I’ll bet 49 other governors feel the same way, Jan.
In turn, both Iowa (tentatively scheduled for February 6) and New Hampshire would be forced to move forward because Florida would likely jump forward from its January 31st date to stay ahead. Next thing you know, it’s a primary for Christmas – that’s the direction we’re headed. And it’s shameful.
I was hoping we’d see some common sense prevail after a 2008 Maryland primary that made our Congressman a lame duck 10 1/2 months before the end of his term (and just 13 1/2 after he’d won re-election.) And even February 12 was too late for Maryland to have a roster of picks to choose from since Mitt Romney withdrew from the race a week prior. Out of nine GOP candidates on the ballot only four were still active candidates at the time (John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Alan Keyes, and Ron Paul) while Democrats had just three of eight (Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Mike Gravel.) As for the rest, you may as well have tossed away your vote.
For years I’ve advocated a solution which does two things: makes smaller states more meaningful and compacts the race to a much shorter period. I think a June-to-November campaign is long enough, and here’s how it would work in reverse order, using a 2012 calendar as an example.
- November 6: General Election.
- September 4-7 and 10-13: Republican and Democratic conventions, respectively.
- July 24: Sixth regional primary (Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico). In 2016 they go first.
- July 17: Fifth regional primary (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska). In 2016 they go sixth, in 2020 first.
- July 10: Fourth regional primary (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi). They would be first in 2024.
- July 3: Third regional primary (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee). They would be first in 2028.
- June 26: Second regional primary (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, District of Columbia, West Virginia). We would be first in 2032, after we work our way down the line.
- June 19: First regional primary (Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine). They would cycle backwards to be first again in 2036.
- June 12: New Hampshire primary. By the way, in order to stay first they have to close their primary so only previously registered Republican voters vote for the GOP nominee and Democratic voters for the Democrat.
- June 5: Iowa caucus.
Doesn’t that seem like a more logical plan? It would probably save us all a ton of money because candidates would only have a shorter window in which to make ad buys and need only travel to certain small regions rather than all over the country. It also means that, aside from Iowa and New Hampshire, regions of the country would eventually get first crack at either a Republican or Democratic nominee (or both) every twenty years or so. And smaller states could get a little more love from candidates.
But I doubt my plan would be accepted by the powers that be. Instead, by the time the 2020 cycle comes around we’ll be voting in the 2018 General Election as the primary for 2020. Don’t think I’m kidding, either.