why we should replace the caucuses

7 01 2008

If you’ve watched the news lately, you’ve probably heard more than you wanted to hear about the Iowa Caucus and the New Hampshire Caucus.  I know these kinds of events are used to determine the electability of the candidates to narrow them down to one per party, but why are these states chosen?  Iowa ranks 26th in size and 30th in population.  New Hampshire is 46th in size and 41st in population.

As it is, there’s not much point in me following all that, because Arkansas isn’t a primary state, so we don’t get to vote for 10 more months, when everyone does.  And most of the current candidates won’t even be on the ballot when I get to vote.

Why can’t a new system be developed in place of the caucuses?  Surely someone could devise a system where we could vote via a text message from our cell phone.  I know not everyone would get to vote, but it would be a lot more people than get to vote in these isolated caucuses now.

And while I’m ranting on this, the candidates are spending huge amounts of money in their campaigns.  Before Christmas, the candidates were spending $1.9 million per day on network television advertising, with most of it being in Iowa.  I don’t know how much they’ve spent overall so far, but it’s likely in the hundreds of millions just on their campaigns.  It seems like a big waste of money to me.  I know they have to get their name out, but there should be more debates and visits around the country instead of 30-second ads where they cherry-pick from statistics to put down their rivals.  CNN estimates that political television advertising will reach $3 billion this year.  Surely there is a better way!  Talk about wasteful government spending!  And just think — only one candidate will win, so for the rest of them, it’s wasted money.

Let’s think outside the box on this — how could this be done better?  What if each candidate was given an equal amount of airtime, and each candidate could only spend a set amount of money for their campaign?  The way it is now isn’t fair.  Sure, they get donations from supporters, but that doesn’t mean they are the most popular or the best for the position.  Just because one candidate has a few extremely rich supporters doesn’t mean he or she is the best candidate and should get the most TV exposure.

I certainly don’t have all the answers on improving the system, but I don’t like how it is now.

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7 responses

7 01 2008
Kri'

I don’t like it the way it is either, Beppo, or the general election for that matter (electoral votes beating out popular vote? Mmm… I’m not too sure about that), but I don’t see it changing anytime soon.

It seems the position of higher power in this country is now only available to the wealthy and (already)powerful instead of the “common person”… this is not what was intended when this nation was founded…

8 01 2008
Fab

Actually, yes, Iowa is a caucus state, but New Hampshire is a primary State. In fact, most states are primary states with about 15 caucus states. Arkansas is a primary state and it will be held on Super Tuesday on February 5th with 20 (R) & 21(D) other states (some states’ caucuses/primaries have separate voting days, depending on which party you identify with in the voting process). Arkansas used to have their primary in May, I think but it was moved to Super Tuesday since the last Presidential election. Read here about the voting schedule for the party nominating season: here and here.

8 01 2008
Fab

Also, I believe it would limit free speech if each candidate was given only a set amount of money rather than letting them work to solicit donations. It is a political statement to give money to candidates because it perpetuates their message through your donation. So, it is by constitutional design that the person saying the most popular things gets the most donations because more people want to “speak” through that candidate and they do so with their money.

9 01 2008
Beppo

Why don’t they just have them all on the same day? Why is Iowa and New Hampshire and others given special preference? Is it just because they tend to have a higher voting turnout?

Having the system the way it is, the candidates are spending millions on ads in those select states, and supposedly gaining ground in the race for the nomination, yet it’s only a handful of people compared to the whole nation. Meanwhile, they aren’t visiting other states or playing ads on their channels. So for a couple of months, the bulk of their promoting is done in certain states. What’s the benefit of having these early primaries / caucuses in single states one at a time?

11 01 2008
Fab

There are several reasons. The traditional early states like Iowa, New Hampshire, Wyoming, and South Carolina are considered microcosms of America. These 4 states particularly are somewhat representative of the nation as a whole. You have a mid-western state, a New England state, a western state, and a southern state represented.

Early on in the primary process, candidates are not loaded down with cash to where they could feasibly conduct a full nationwide campaign. So by testing their ability to compete in these early states, those who can get traction and drum up support, in turn begin to see funding increase as well. Those who can’t are weeded out. When people begin to have confidence in the electability of a candidate, the money needed for a viable nationwide campaign follows. This gives each party the chance to let their candidates fight it out on a smaller scale to see which candidates are going to emerge as viable and which ones are wasting their time. It’s basically all about money.

11 01 2008
Kri'

All about money… there you go… the truth comes out.

😉

15 01 2008
sambo

actually — if we did away with the electoral college and just used popular vote , the president would be elected by the east and west coast — and fly over country ( us) could just stay home because we don”t have the numbers in population.. Thought not perfect — I say let it alone — I think they knew what they were doing when they set it up this way !!!!!

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