Presidential Primaries: Get Organized


The individual U.S. states need to work together to implement a comprehensive presidential primary schedule, because the current system is disorganized and unfair to certain voters and candidates.

First, the primary season should be limited to 13 weeks in the year of the general election, beginning in Feb. and ending in May.

Second, all states should adopt the same day of the week for their caucus or primary, such as a Tuesday.

Third, the schedule should maximize the involvement of as many states as possible. Iowa and New Hampshire should not have an exclusive first caucus or primary, as it gives them too much influence and often allows them to choose the candidates. Conversely, the big states should not be first, since they are too large and expensive for retail politics and the purpose of a primary is to test a candidate in relatively small forum. If the largest states went first, primaries would not be needed anywhere else.

To solve the problem, the process should schedule four to five small states, on each of the first six primary dates, so no one of them gains too much influence. On the date of the Iowa caucus, for example, four additional small states should have primaries, so there would be five contests, and none could become dominant.

I propose a system in which the 27 smallest states participate in six regional primaries, the 12 next largest states enter one of six north-south sectional contests, and the 11 largest states would enlist in the final elections, to be known as the Final Four.

Each regional would have roughly the same aggregate delegate count. Since the regional contests would determine only 26% of the convention delegates, candidates could not lock up an early nomination. They would then advance to the six sectionals, where the next 12 largest states would be paired north and south to test the candidate’s national appeal. Each sectional would have roughly the same number of delegates. The nomination could not be determined in the sectionals, since only 23.5% of the delegates would be up for grabs. In the Final Four, the 11 largest states would vote and would apportion the remaining 270 delegates (50.5%) and would nominate the candidates.

PROPOSED PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY SYSTEM

REGIONAL PRIMARIES

(27 smallest states, less than 10 electors each)

Feb. 7, 2012: IOWA REGIONAL (5 states and 23 delegates) Iowa (6), North Dakota (3), South Dakota (3), Kansas (6), Nebraska (5)

Feb. 14, 2012: NEW HAMPSHIRE REGIONAL (5 states and 22 delegates): New Hampshire (4), Vermont (3), Rhode Island (4), Maine (4), Connecticut (7)

Feb. 21, 2012: SOUTH CAROLINA REGIONAL (4 states and 25 delegates): South Carolina (9), Kentucky (8), West Virginia (5), Delaware (3)

Feb. 28, 2012: WESTERN REGIONAL (5 states and 24 delegates): Oregon (7), Idaho (4), Nevada (6) Hawaii (4), Alaska (3)

March 6, 2012: SOUTHWEST REGIONAL (4 states and 24 delegates): Arkansas (6), Mississippi (6), Oklahoma (7), New Mexico (5)

March 13, 2012: MOUNTAIN REGIONAL (4 states and 21 delegates): Colorado (9), Utah (6), Montana (3), Wyo. (3)

139 delegates or 26% of total at stake in regionals

CROSS-SECTIONALS

(12 states in 6 North-South match-ups)

March 20, 2012: WISCONSIN—VIRGINIA (2 states and 23 delegates): Wisconsin (10), Virginia (13)

March 27, 2012: MASSACHUSETTS—ALABAMA (2 states and 20 delegates): Massachusetts (11), Alabama (9)

April 3, 2012: MINNESOTA—TENNESSEE (2 states and 21 delegates): Minnesota (10), Tennessee (11)

April 10, 2012: INDIANA–LOUISIANA  (2 states and 19 delegates): Indiana (11), Louisiana (8)

April 17, 2012: MARYLAND—MISSOURI (2 states and 20 delegates): Maryland (10), Missouri (10)

April 24, 2012: WASHINGTON—ARIZONA (2 states and 23 delegates): Washington (12), Arizona (11)

126 delegates or 23.5% of total at stake in sectionals

THE FINAL FOUR

(11 largest states with 270 delegates (50.5%) put candidates over top and determine nominations)

May 1, 2012: EASTERN FINAL (3 states, 63 delegates): New York (29), Pennsylvania (20), New Jersey (14)

May 1, 2012: SOUTHERN FINAL (3 states with 60 delegates): Florida (29), Georgia (16), North Carolina (15)

May 1, 2012: MIDWESTERN FINAL (3 states with 54 delegates) : Illinois (20), Ohio (18), Michigan (16)

May 1, 2012: SOUTH-WESTERN FINAL (2 states with 93 delegates): California (55), Texas (38)

270 delegates or 50.5% of total at stake in Final Four

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