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California moves up primary, confirming front-loading trend

 
 
nimh
 
Reply Thu 15 Mar, 2007 05:21 pm
In the news today: a decision by Schwarzenegger that is set to seriously change the way the Presidential primaries will be fought.

Quote:
California Moves Up Presidential Primary

California jolted the time-tested presidential primary schedule Thursday, moving up its 2008 contest to Feb. 5 and setting the stage for a potentially decisive one-day, mega-primary across the country.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation moving the state into make-or-break prominence from its position as a June straggler in the presidential nominating process.

"Now California is important again in presidential nominating politics ... and we will get the respect that California deserves," Schwarzenegger said during a bill-signing ceremony.

California joins a handful of other states that have already scheduled Feb. 5 primaries. But 15 other states _ including Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Texas _ are considering moving their contests to the same day.

Such a jam-packed early schedule presents a monumental challenge to candidates in a presidential contest that is already moving at warp speed.


OK, here's what I think - I think it's a shame. I think it will be a negative development for election politics.

The above WaPo article has a paragraph that contains the reason why it will, IMO:

Quote:
"It means the living room and luncheonette phase of the campaign will be very short because campaigns need to conserve cash to buy TV time," Galen said. "You've got to have enough money to be legitimate."


See also an earlier article about the topic, from when this was still speculation:California Rush Reflects Primary Front-Loading Trend.

That one had this bit that describes why I think it was a bad idea:

Quote:
Used to a pace in which White House hopefuls spend weeks on face-to-face retail campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire, the major parties now face the likelihood of a quick and early shift to media-heavy "wholesale" campaigning.

"[California] is not a one media-market state. … This is a four or five media-market state," said Brady. "It's a lot of work to campaign in this state, and it's a lot of money."

Along with its top population rank, California also is the third-largest state in land area. Travel costs thus will be an added expense for presidential contenders.


For me, the campaigning that the presidential candidates do in the primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire, introducing themselves almost family to family, on porches and at barbeques, is something uniquely American and uniquely valuable.

In a political world that more and more revolves solely around fundraising prowess and (often unpleasant) TV ads, this has always been one stage in the campaign in which politicians still have to put themselves out there as a person, in person-to-person interaction, being questioned directly by people about their varying, on-the-ground concerns, having to persuade them individually.

The politics of stadium speeches and automated phonecalls allows for maximum scripting and maximum manipulation. But on the streetcorners and porches of Dubuque and Manchester, the presidential candidates are still grilled by regular folk, and tradition-worn sceptical regular folk at that.

Now I'm afraid that an early "super-primary", with California and perhaps 15 other states scheduled already smack in early February, will do much to erase even that last vestige of almost-19th century grassroots politicking, and help make the process even more of a machine-driven virtual exercise in mass manipulation.

But Hillary should be glad.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 6,678 • Replies: 103
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Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 Mar, 2007 05:24 pm
Quote:


For me, the campaigning that the presidential candidates do in the primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire, introducing themselves almost family to family, on porches and at barbeques, is something uniquely American and uniquely valuable.


Except, why do those people get the special opportunity to be wined and dined by the candidates - where as my ass here in Berkeley does not?

There's nothing special about those areas... it has the effect of letting a certain segment of the country have a disproportionate say in who gets the party nod. That's how Kerry happened....

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 Mar, 2007 05:25 pm
In praise of the Iowa caucuses and NH primaries...

I remembered that I sung their praises - kinda.. - earlier, here.. twice, it turns out. Found back where Smile

April 2005:

Quote:
the US may have the most mediatised, impersonal multimillion political races of the world when it comes to the Presidency or this or that Senate race - but at the same time a Progressive candidate from Rochester, Vermont got into the State House for her district by visiting every single of the 1,800 houses in her constituency - at least once.

Such paradoxes ... in January, John Kerry is sitting on the porch of some small-factory town in Iowa with two dozen random rank-and-filers, half a year on he's only doing intricately orchestrated multi-$$ mass media shows ... we don't have either of those things.


March 2004:

Quote:
I really liked the Iowa / New Hampshire phase of the campaign. Lotsa intrigueing field reports from places you've never heard of, where entire communities turn out to be politicized. Major candidates who are forced to be chatting with the voters one-on-one, spend time on the porch with Uncle Joe at some mid-Iowan meatpackerfactory-town house party. It was democracy in action.

Now, already, we're way into the phase of hurried airport-runway visits and TV soundbites as candidates rush from main media market to main media market. Even the excitement of a close race has long gone. Whats left is corporate mass politics - and we've still got six or seven months of attack ads and bickering between two tired old faces to go before debates start up again and tension kicks in again. I'm tired already.
0 Replies
 
kelticwizard
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Mar, 2007 05:27 am
I think it's a shame too, Nimh.

What is being lost is the ability to see a candidate's candidacy unfold in front of your very eyes. It's one thing to buy TV time and look good in the polls from that,it is another to see how a candidate reacts to the up and down of new primaries every week until one gets a majority.

All the suspense of the conventions went out because of the primaries.

Now all of the suspense of the primaries is being cut out by this super primary.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Mar, 2007 09:55 am
When we move inexorably toward a national primary, I will have no fond nostalgia whatsoever for the days when New Hampshire dictated to the nation what candidates would be nominated by their respective parties. I don't buy the argument that we need the "up close and personal" politicking that states like New Hampshire and Iowa demand, especially given how badly New Hampshire and Iowa voters have done in response to the lavish attention that candidates have paid to those two states over the past thirty years. It is time for their reign of error to cease.
0 Replies
 
kelticwizard
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Mar, 2007 01:37 pm
But Joe, if we move to one super primary, a candidate who is not considered one of the top two or three will NEVER get the chance to show surprising strength in connecting with voters.

It will be a race to see who does well in the media, the primary voters on both sides will react to that, and some good people might never get to show their stuff in primary election after primary election.

That can't be good.
0 Replies
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Mar, 2007 01:43 pm
Quote:
But Joe, if we move to one super primary, a candidate who is not considered one of the top two or three will NEVER get the chance to show surprising strength in connecting with voters.


Sorry, but I don't trust the 'voters' of NH to make better decisions than I can about a candidate. And I don't think the 'connecting' part has any relevance at all to their presidency. It's just a different flavor of bullshit.

We all know that Bush connected great with small groups of people, look how well that turned out. No thanks.

One man, one vote - one EQUAL vote. My vote in the primaries should not matter less than some guy in NH.

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
kelticwizard
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Mar, 2007 02:12 pm
Your vote does NOT equal less than one vote in New Hampshire.

Being the biggest state, California is the big prize. But instead of coming first, it is something to work up to. It's like Christmas. The suspense comes in seeing if anyone can possibly take enough votes in the previous primaries to beat whoever wins in California.

As it has been pointed out, to win California is to take nearly 25% of the necessary votes to achieve a majority.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Mar, 2007 02:26 pm
I have little to add at the moment..

I agree with Keltic, obviously - that much was clear from my opening post.

I can see the other side's points too (and "reign of error" is admittedly a genius quip).

Good discussion going on. Keep it up.
0 Replies
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Mar, 2007 02:34 pm
kelticwizard wrote:
Your vote does NOT equal less than one vote in New Hampshire.

Being the biggest state, California is the big prize. But instead of coming first, it is something to work up to. It's like Christmas. The suspense comes in seeing if anyone can possibly take enough votes in the previous primaries to beat whoever wins in California.

As it has been pointed out, to win California is to take nearly 25% of the necessary votes to achieve a majority.


But it does matter more! That's the special import of these places; that it is so rare for a candidate to win, if he didn't win there, that it effectively becomes a bellweather for who is going to win. People want to stick with the guy they see winning; neither party wants to seem split during a time in which they should seem unified. Therefore, the vote is worth more in actual terms, if not weighted more heavily.

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Mar, 2007 02:47 pm
Meh. New Hampshire will just move it's primaries up even farther and the end result of all of this will just be that candidates will start announcing that they are running 3 years in advance of the election instead of two. In 30 or 40 years we'll just be in a constant state of campaigning.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Mar, 2007 02:48 pm
kelticwizard wrote:
But Joe, if we move to one super primary, a candidate who is not considered one of the top two or three will NEVER get the chance to show surprising strength in connecting with voters.

Quite the contrary. With multiple candidates running in a national primary, and every candidate getting at least a share of the delegates in rough proportion to his or her percentage of the vote, there is a greater likelihood that no one will emerge with a majority of the delegates. In which case, the vote will be decided at the party's convention, and the chance remains that a dark horse candidate will emerge as the nominee.

Compare that with the current system, where the candidate who wins the early primaries develops "momentum" and wins the majority of delegates even before the all of the primaries have been held. So, tell me which system gives the dark horse candidates a better shot at a nomination?

kelticwizard wrote:
It will be a race to see who does well in the media, the primary voters on both sides will react to that, and some good people might never get to show their stuff in primary election after primary election.

That can't be good.

The good people are already getting drowned out by the candidates with the most money. At least with a national primary, a candidate need only get enough delegates to survive until his or her name can be submitted for nomination at the convention. On the other hand, if a clear majority favors one candidate in a national primary, then why should there be a long, drawn-out process to nominate him or her?

kelticwizard wrote:
Being the biggest state, California is the big prize. But instead of coming first, it is something to work up to. It's like Christmas. The suspense comes in seeing if anyone can possibly take enough votes in the previous primaries to beat whoever wins in California.

Because it is traditionally held in June, the California primary hasn't meant anything in over thirty years. In every election since 1976, the nominee has already been decided by the time of the California primary. California isn't something that a candidate has worked up to, it has been something a front-runner candidate has always been able to take for granted. There's got to be something seriously wrong with a system that treats New Hampshire as more important than California.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Mar, 2007 02:50 pm
fishin wrote:
In 30 or 40 years we'll just be in a constant state of campaigning.

I think we - urr, you - already are. Look at now: the midterm elections are just four months past and everyone is already well into the presidential race for '08.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Mar, 2007 02:51 pm
fishin wrote:
In 30 or 40 years we'll just be in a constant state of campaigning.


That's already true for members of the House of Representatives, and has been for years.
0 Replies
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Mar, 2007 02:54 pm
nimh wrote:
fishin wrote:
In 30 or 40 years we'll just be in a constant state of campaigning.

I think we - urr, you - already are. Look at now: the midterm elections are just four months past and everyone is already well into the presidential race for '08.


I would say that we find ourselves in a unique situation: a lame duck of the worst sort, no heir apparent on the Republican side, and the country is looking to get rid of the current bunch badly. I'm not sure I would see the current excitement as a brand new and definitive trend as much as a national yearning for change.

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Mar, 2007 02:58 pm
nimh wrote:
fishin wrote:
In 30 or 40 years we'll just be in a constant state of campaigning.

I think we - urr, you - already are. Look at now: the midterm elections are just four months past and everyone is already well into the presidential race for '08.



Setanta wrote:
fishin wrote:
In 30 or 40 years we'll just be in a constant state of campaigning.


That's already true for members of the House of Representatives, and has been for years.


You are both quite right in that respect. I was limiting myself to the race for the Presidency. We used to have at least a small breather there.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Mar, 2007 03:07 pm
nimh wrote:
Look at now: the midterm elections are just four months past and everyone is already well into the presidential race for '08.

And I'm conflicted about that..

On the one hand I think its good for representatives to have to be in touch with their local voters all the time. I loath this "we'll show up once every four years to woo your vote and then forget all about you for the remainder of our term" mentality. And it makes voters very cynical and disaffected if they only ever hear from their MP/ Congressman when their vote is needed, which is bad for democratic culture. Its good if the politicians have to more constantly engage with their constituency's current concerns.

On the other hand, a continuous media campaign is a different animal. Election campaigns have a way of revolving around trivial scandals of the day, who said what when and may have not completely told what reporter X later revealed about - insert mostly irrelevant, superficial, personal life-related item of the day. The more that media campaign takes place non-stop, the more candidates are tempted into going into continuous spin mode, the Blair/New Labour way. Not to mention the drain of time otherwise (hopefully) spent on actual policy-making - for a good and disturbing description of how that is currently impacting the Democratic freshmen see For some freshmen, the midterms never ended.

Some will also add that a culture of continuous campaigning will prevent politicians from ever taking "unpopular decisions". I can see the argument, but I have less of a bug with that. What are generally praised as "unpopular decisions" tend to be decisions fuelled by ideology and/or powerful lobbies, taken on the behest and with the approval of industry and think tank elites or powerful foreign allies, and rarely benefiting the common guy. Going into an unpopular war, say, or slashing welfare state provisions. You get the plaudits of the economic theoriticians, the business lobbies, the US secretary of state, and usually none of it was ever wanted by the regular voter, nor good for the regular voter. Politicians having to keep an eye on their voters' feelings non-stop rather than half a year every two/four/six years may be a good check on that one.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Mar, 2007 03:08 pm
Cycloptichorn wrote:
I would say that we find ourselves in a unique situation: a lame duck of the worst sort, no heir apparent on the Republican side, and the country is looking to get rid of the current bunch badly. I'm not sure I would see the current excitement as a brand new and definitive trend as much as a national yearning for change.

Fair enough, good point.
0 Replies
 
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Mar, 2007 03:37 pm
nimh wrote:
nimh wrote:
Look at now: the midterm elections are just four months past and everyone is already well into the presidential race for '08.

And I'm conflicted about that..

On the one hand I think its good for representatives to have to be in touch with their local voters all the time. I loath this "we'll show up once every four years to woo your vote and then forget all about you for the remainder of our term" mentality. And it makes voters very cynical and disaffected if they only ever hear from their MP/ Congressman when their vote is needed, which is bad for democratic culture. Its good if the politicians have to more constantly engage with their constituency's current concerns.

On the other hand, a continuous media campaign is a different animal. Election campaigns have a way of revolving around trivial scandals of the day, who said what when and may have not completely told what reporter X later revealed about - insert mostly irrelevant, superficial, personal life-related item of the day. The more that media campaign takes place non-stop, the more candidates are tempted into going into continuous spin mode, the Blair/New Labour way. Not to mention the drain of time otherwise (hopefully) spent on actual policy-making - for a good and disturbing description of how that is currently impacting the Democratic freshmen see For some freshmen, the midterms never ended.

Some will also add that a culture of continuous campaigning will prevent politicians from ever taking "unpopular decisions". I can see the argument, but I have less of a bug with that. What are generally praised as "unpopular decisions" tend to be decisions fuelled by ideology and/or powerful lobbies, taken on the behest and with the approval of industry and think tank elites or powerful foreign allies, and rarely benefiting the common guy. Going into an unpopular war, say, or slashing welfare state provisions. You get the plaudits of the economic theoriticians, the business lobbies, the US secretary of state, and usually none of it was ever wanted by the regular voter, nor good for the regular voter. Politicians having to keep an eye on their voters' feelings non-stop rather than half a year every two/four/six years may be a good check on that one.


I think another aspect of this that often doesn't get mentioned is the increasing loss of respect "the people" has for the process of getting elected and extending the process doesn't help there. I think most people realize that the politicos are hiring their friends (and in some cases, family) and supporters and paying them from their campaign warchests. It is one more way way get around laws designed to limit patronage.

I get elected and the law prevents me from getting my supporters jobs in government? No problem, I'll hire them to run my campaign and pay them from there.

The permenant political fund raisers and campaign managers used to work for the parties. Now they have full time positions with the candidates. IMO, that weakens the chances for any grass roots groups to be sucessful and keeps the politicians with the smallest warchests out of the running - even if they'd end up being better candidates.
0 Replies
 
realjohnboy
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Mar, 2007 03:39 pm
I am one of the 100% who believe it is a bad idea. Back later.
0 Replies
 
 

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