Re: IA

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It pisses me off mostly because it's not some state or local law- the caucus structure is entirely determined by the parties, and the Republicans actually have the more sane system (essentially a straw poll, done in under 30 minutes.)
When candidates are accused of bribing voters because they need to offer 3 hours of free babysitting to turn out their supporters, there's a problem with the system.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 8:10 AM
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It's pretty noxious.

Do any of our lawyers know why this doesn't run afoul of something like equal protection? Or are primaries something like an interparty affair to which such clauses don't apply?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 8:10 AM
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A good companion piece that explains that Iowa wasn't meant to be a real primary anyway.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 8:10 AM
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BTW, anyone remember the Opus the Penguin caucus rap? I think it was from the '88 election.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 8:11 AM
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Why do the states have asynchronous primaries anyway? Why not a concurrent primary in February or March, giving each voter plenty of time before November to regret endorsing the lying promises and ghastly rictus of his or her preferred candidate.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 8:27 AM
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I plan to support with unbridled enthusiastic support whichever candidate the caucus-goers of Iowa determine should be my party's nominee.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 8:36 AM
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Fucking Iowa.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 8:46 AM
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5: If you did that, primaries would give a clear result without interpretive input from the chattering classes. This way, performance in a race only symbolically significant can be puffed up propel real shifts (i.e., candidates losing funding), cementing establishment control.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 8:47 AM
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puffed up to propel


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 8:48 AM
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Hopefully, the increasing popularity of absentee balloting will mitigate Iowa's influence. There are voters in February primary states who have already voted. Does anyone know if they are a substantial number?


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 8:52 AM
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Imagine if we could just return to a democracy of the landed gentry in all the other states.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 8:54 AM
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The best argument against a national primary that I've heard is that it would effectively shut out an upstart candidates without national name recognition and/or a huge existing organization. Lots of workable solutions exist (eg, start with three small, more representative states), but there doesn't seem to be much initiative to dump Iowa.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 8:55 AM
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2-Such clauses should apply to primaries (at least, the 15th Amendment certainly does; 14th equal protection also if the state's making the rules in question and, I'd imagine, even if it isn't, though I'm not sure that's been settled; and no idea how much of Iowa's rules come from state law). My guess would be that a facially neutral procedure like this, that doesn't seem to target a particular protected class, isn't going to make out an equal protection violation. But EP in a voting context is a world of its own that I don't know much about, so maybe there's more to it than that.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 9:06 AM
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Does anyone know if they are a substantial number?

Pretty sure I read yesterday that it was something like 7,000 in FL. Enough to shift things a few percentage points, but not to overwhelm media-fed "momentum" coming out of IA, NH, or SC.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 9:09 AM
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The best argument against a national primary that I've heard is that it would effectively shut out an upstart candidates without national name recognition and/or a huge existing organization.

A legitimate argument. An upstart candidate could run as an Independent, but a better response might be to schedule the national primary much later in the year than March, perhaps only a month or two in advance of the general.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 9:16 AM
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Wet blankets!


Posted by: hermit greg | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 9:20 AM
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I heard a story on NPR that suggested that Iowa starts so early because back when they went to having individual state primaries, the Iowa Democratic Party only had one mimeograph machine, so every step in the process had to be spaced out to allow time to make copies.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 9:24 AM
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Absentee voting in primaries can suck because your candidate can drop out of the race in the time between when you voted and the primary election, as happened to me in 2004.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 9:28 AM
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there doesn't seem to be much initiative to dump Iowa.

As O's link in 3 indicates, Iowa was never supposed to have so much influence - more of a sneak-peak thing. And, indeed, NH probably plays a bigger role (I think that, on the D side, the NH winner has been the nominee almost every time since 72; IA, not so much). The movement over the past couple years has been to move up other states (most notably Nevada, which is so different from any of the other early states) to blunt the impact/influence of the IA/NH combo.

Frankly, I agree with the arguments against a national primary - people tend to back winners and vote strategically, and it would be all too easy to have buyer's regret if an underdog won, say, 48% of a national primary. But I think that, in today's media environment (the fast-paced, 24-hour part, not the hacktacular Heathers part), a faster succession of states is a good thing. I'm thrilled Guiliani is tanking, but I wish that his model (relying on support in the 5th and 6th states, not 1st, 2nd, or 3rd) could show success this year. It would go a long way in blowing up the reigning narrative about the importance of IA (and NH).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 9:31 AM
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your candidate can drop out of the race in the time between when you voted and the primary election

That's why I appreciate Kucinich sticking it out til the convention....


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 9:32 AM
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Actually, I just had an idea:

Y'all know about IRV, Instant-Runoff Voting? That would be a great method for a national primary. It would also be a great method for national elections, in that it would allow for third party candidates to play a role without "spoiling," but that would take a lot of legislative work. But, if they wanted, the parties could institute IRV in a single national primary by fiat. After all, the best thing that can be said about the IA caucus method is its viability threshold. Everyone gets his or her say, and a low-polling insurgent can get a surprise push across the threshold, but otherwise people get to register their preferences for both their heart's desire and the more popular options.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 9:38 AM
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I was in a caucus in '84. A total hoot.


Posted by: NĂ¡pi | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 9:39 AM
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I'm enough of a contrarian to point out that voters have a fair amount of time to plan ahead for that few hours--and I say so as one who's had to fight for a free Thursday since before I could vote.

Look, I'm all about making voting easy in November--if I had my druthers, voting would be less of a hassle than buying beer. Ditch "Tuesday" for a start. But a winter caucus actually still seems practical to me, because I believe in democracy. What's defines "democracy" better than gathering actual "demoi" and, um, "crat"-ing? Isn't "demos" Greek for "precinct" Can I get a Hellenophone?

I can see some clear objections, but I'd like to see caucuses become more recognized as an essential means of organizing Democrats locally. Real decisions are made by those who show up!


Posted by: Rah | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 9:42 AM
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"? "


Posted by: Rah | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 9:44 AM
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I read an op-ed a few months ago floating the idea of a months-long national primary, with vote tallies announced weekly. You could vote on the early end if you were really committed to a candidate, getting more leverage for your vote. Or you could wait and make up your mind as the campaign went on. Ideally, it'd promote deliberation and allow time for lots of retail campaigning -- and still give the press a good horserace narrative. Of course, it's really just a technocratic pipe-dream.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 9:48 AM
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I like the idea of individual state-by-state primaries, for the reasons Ogged mentions above among others, but I think the order in which the primaries occur ought to be randomized. And IRV ought to be the law of the land.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 9:49 AM
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shut out an upstart candidates without national name recognition

I've also heard arguments for iowa & nh based on the value of retail, hand-shaking politics. Sort of a feeling that rooms of elks clubs should vet our candidates before it becomes a money-driven, advertising-heavy sprint. Now that theory was mainly proclaimed when I worked among the chattering classes, so I think there's a lot to minivet's point.

Also, I like Bave Dee's proposal for a rolling national primary. It sounds fun.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 10:00 AM
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25: That's probably the best idea I've heard, given the existing system (stupidly broken presidential democracy, electoral college, etc.). Next to that, though, I favor a long, drawn-out primary calendar with a randomized schedule, changing every cycle and starting off with a couple small, relatively representative states. Plenty of time for voters to make up their mind, for media narratives to come and go between primary contests, for insurgent candidacies to bloom, etc.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 10:00 AM
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"The best argument against a national primary that I've heard is that it would effectively shut out an upstart candidates without national name recognition and/or a huge existing organization."

The media and the huge financial burden of two year campaigns shut out those candidates anyway. I haven't heard a single (not easily dismissed/mitigated) argument as to why the whole electoral process should last any more than a month. The most commonly advanced one, that small states would lose out, is absurd when you consider how much disproportionate power the small states have under the current system (and that's before we get to the Senate) and how California and New York voters (especially Republicans and independents under the current dynamic) are effectively disenfranchised. For God's sake, the two most important states in the primaries have a combined 1.4% of the national population.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 10:01 AM
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It would also be a great method for national elections, in that it would allow for third party candidates to play a role without "spoiling," but that would take a lot of legislative work.

Thanks, half-punch. You just saved me a lot of legislative work.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 10:02 AM
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26:

I've dreamt of IRV for years in primary voting, but I'd far rather see a few early caucuses (say 7, rotating?) and a national primary around the beginning of April. The Democratic Party could enforce this process by declaring that no delegate can be seated whose selection was not ratified at the precinct level before spring.

This means the early caucus states have a chance to reconsider their choices in public. Also it helps a lot of state parties who would be instrumentally fucked by having to turn out votes for local offices a year in advance. It's maybe too late to prevent permanent campaigns for Federal office, but I'd like my Governor to spend a little time actually governing, thanks.


Posted by: Rah | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 10:06 AM
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The media and the huge financial burden of two year campaigns shut out those candidates anyway.

Which candidates are you talking about? If you mean Dennis Kucinich, then yeah, he doesn't have enough money in either scenario to compete. If you're talking John Edwards, though, you're talking about a candidate with enough money to compete in Iowa and New Hampshire and set up an operation to follow up on a few early victories. That kind of strategy doesn't work in a national primary, where you have to have the money to compete everywhere at once. A national primary means the game goes straight to the establishment candidate, every time - even the candidates who "only" raise fifty million or so can't compete.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 10:10 AM
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half-punch?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 10:11 AM
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Oh, and I agree completely with 32. One good thing that can be said about IA is that the media costs are relatively low. Someone like Edwards would be hard pressed to buy any TV time at all in NYC, Chi, or LA markets, costing him hundreds of thousands of votes in a national primary.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 10:22 AM
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Along the lines of Rah's post at 23, is it really so bad that the decision in Iowa is being made by people dedicated enough to show up for 2 hours?

I mean, there are plenty of reasons why the Iowa caucuses should not be given the importance that the media has given them the past few cycles. And I would certainly favor some sort of rotation or national primary system.

But when it comes to the actual decisionmaking process, I like the fact that people can't just simply stop by for five minutes and vote. It takes commitment, and presumably the people willing to make that commitment are also willing to pay attention to the candidates and put some effort into their decision.


Posted by: Steve H. | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 10:23 AM
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I'd be fine with the existing system if it were given time to run its course, and people actually had a reason to care about delegate counts. As it is, I fear any long-running system meant to approximate a "national conversation" (like 25) will be metamorphosed into a CW clusterfuck.

Actually, thorough campaign-advertising reform (i.e., candidates can't pay for time slots but only get it awarded publicly) might fix the system a lot more thoroughly than any procedural fixes. When huge amounts of money need to be raised and spent, there's a ticking clock on every upstart campaign. If the money levels go down, someone might lose the first five primaries but keep on plugging at it and eventually win.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 10:23 AM
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Completely OT:

I recently deleted all my cookies, and now Unfogged comments pop up in a full-sized window that I have to manually resize every time. What do I do to make it go back to automatically popping up a small window?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 10:23 AM
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33: Don't mind me, just an obscure, self-indulgent reference.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 10:24 AM
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37: Did you perhaps disable Javascript at the same time?


Posted by: dob | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 10:27 AM
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Hmm, not that I know of! I'll go look.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 10:32 AM
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23: Isn't "demos" Greek for "precinct"

Well, that's one sense of the word. Also has the sense of 'the full citizenry', which is pretty clearly the sense relevant in 'democracy'.

(Not that etymology should have anything normative to offer here. Or anywhere.)


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 10:38 AM
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The whole idea of primaries is strange anyway, from an European point of view. The idea that it isn't dedicated party members, but every jackass who takes the trouble to register as a "Democrat" or a "Republican" who can determine who will be the party's candidate is just weird. So the idea that it isn't fair to all those people who can't or won't take the time to spent a few hours on selecting a suitable candidate is doubly strange.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 10:39 AM
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No, Javascript seems to be enabled, along with its "allow websites to resize windows" option. BTW, I'm running the latest Firefox release on Windows ME.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 10:40 AM
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41: Maybe Rah is thinking of "deme," which is closer to something like precinct than "demos" is?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 10:42 AM
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44 knows her demes(nes). Are the terms distinct? I tend to doubt coincidence in language.


Posted by: Rah | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 10:44 AM
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The whole idea of primaries is strange anyway, from an European point of view. The idea that it isn't dedicated party members, but every jackass who takes the trouble to register as a "Democrat" or a "Republican" who can determine who will be the party's candidate is just weird.

In many states primary voters don't even have to register with either party.


Posted by: Gabriel | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 10:50 AM
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Another vote for 25. As for ogged's suggestion, what are those three small, more representative states?

I'd suggest Tennessee, Colorado and Maryland.


Posted by: Klug | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 10:51 AM
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41, ff.: I suppose what I meant was "demoi"="precincts".

Also: is Rudy Giuliani about to get his ass kicked by Ron Paul? C'mon, people gotta love that.


Posted by: Rah | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 10:51 AM
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45, 48: Yep. Dorky classicists say "deme" when they mean township and "demos" when they mean the citizen body. But it's the same word ("demos") in Greek.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 10:55 AM
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Primary and caucus votes AFAIK don't choose candidates, they choose delegates who are obliged to vote for a candidate on the All the working processes are first ballot at the Convention. It's like the Electoral College all over again, only this way it almost makes sense.

I've seen many, many processes for public deliberation, and it interests me that the institutions meant to promote it are discounting it at every level.


Posted by: Rah | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 11:01 AM
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42: Elitist.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 11:05 AM
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"If you're talking John Edwards, though, you're talking about a candidate with enough money to compete in Iowa and New Hampshire and set up an operation to follow up on a few early victories. "

Since when is John Edwards an upstart candidate without national name recognition? He was VP candidate last time round and he's constantly on the front pages of the press (usually for ridiculous shit like the haircut, but it's more than Kucinich ever gets).

I fail to see why a campaign based more on debates (which are free) than ads would be a bad thing. Ads are a terrible basis for choosing a candidate, except maybe in a negative sense, ie 'I'm not voting for a candidate who endorsed that ad'. It might need a mechanism to ensure that candidates get equal time during the debates, but that's hardly insurmountable. The UK manages to do it, for one.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 11:12 AM
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Since when is John Edwards an upstart candidate without national name recognition?

Compared to Hillary Clinton, who started out the campaign with near-universal name recognition, and Barack Obama, who was being splashed over the covers of Time and Newsweek before he even declared his candidacy? They've done polling on this; a lot fewer voters recognize Edwards's name nationally than recognize Clinton's or Obama's. Being a vice presidential candidate on a losing ticket isn't exactly an instant pass to media stardom.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 11:18 AM
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The whole idea of primaries is strange anyway, from an European point of view.

Well, let's all just knock it off, then.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 11:18 AM
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I fail to see why a campaign based more on debates (which are free) than ads would be a bad thing.

How would a national primary get you this? Most voters don't watch the debates; they do see ads. That's why candidates buy them. All a national primary would do is throw the nomination to the candidate with the most money and institutional support - that is, the candidate who can buy the most ads.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 11:20 AM
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42: Until the U.S. scraps its constitution and reorganizes itself as a parliamentary democracy, it will need primaries.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 11:22 AM
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The natural consequence of the "European" model for social democratic parties these days is that you get party members who are earnest (and therefore gullible), middle-class, and centrist, as voters - and you end up with leaders like Tony Blair.


Posted by: Robin Green | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 11:22 AM
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53: To be fair, John Edwards *was* the vp candidate in the last election.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 11:23 AM
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42: Aren't we all eltists secretly, though? By "we" I mean our species, of course.


Posted by: Rah | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 11:23 AM
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Oops, possibly wrong thread...


Posted by: Rah | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 11:24 AM
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Or maybe you start with Tony Blair and then you get party members who are earnest, centrist, etc. etc. Probably a bit of both.


Posted by: Robin Green | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 11:25 AM
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"elitists" *sigh*


Posted by: Rah | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 11:25 AM
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I take Ginger's point that Edwards isn't an "insurgent" candidate as such - Dean would be a better model - but I think that actually strengthens the point. If someone with Edwards' credentials and finances (he's not exactly without funding) couldn't be competitive in a one day national primary, then no one could except for the establishment candidate and one ultra high-profile "challenger."

What's interesting is that national polling isn't based on advertising at this point. And it tends to look very different from polling in early primary states, which have advertising, local appearances, and "civic engagement" (ie, local news coverage, canvassers, etc.).

A better example is on the other side, where Huckabee, even without the hatred of the R Establishment, could never compete in a one-day national primary - Romney would run ads defining Huck in every market in the country, and most voters would hear very little about him except what the negative ads say. But he is - and should be - a legit candidate. He represents the biggest part of the R base better than anyone else in that race.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 11:28 AM
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52, ,56 et seq.:

A Prime Ministerial role might be just the thing to crack open the Senate. Let the Vice President start calling witnesses live on the net and see how you like your filibuster now, motherfuckers!


Posted by: Rah | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 11:31 AM
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53- Estes Kefauver!


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 11:50 AM
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Estes Kefauver!

Yeah, but his media stardom derived more from raw sexual energy than his VP turn.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 12:24 PM
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"How would a national primary get you this? "

I'm not arguing for a national primary as such, although I do think it might be an idea. I'm arguing for a drastically shortened primary process, much closer to the election itself, and with more representative first states.

"All a national primary would do is throw the nomination to the candidate with the most money and institutional support"

Whereas now it goes to whom?


"If someone with Edwards' credentials and finances (he's not exactly without funding) couldn't be competitive in a one day national primary..."

At this stage that's just an unsupported assertion. How do you know he wouldn't be competitive? He doesn't poll well nationally right now, but that's at least partly because he's been focusing on tiny states.

"A better example is on the other side, where Huckabee, even without the hatred of the R Establishment, could never compete in a one-day national primary - Romney would run ads defining Huck in every market in the country, and most voters would hear very little about him except what the negative ads say."

Again, that's just an assertion. There's no reason why he couldn't compete better in an election by drawing on activist groups like Focus on the Family or people like Robertson. The current set up hasn't prevented them from betraying their purported principles and supporting other candidates, nor has it made Kucinich's candidacy any more successful (nor did it get Dean the nomination), despite being closer to the Democratic base than any other candidate. And moreover, just because they are closest to the base politically doesn't mean they "should" win the nomination. Electability and the wishes of non-base voters also come into play.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 12:24 PM
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At this stage that's just an unsupported assertion.

Turn it around. Tell me a story of how Edwards wins without airing ads in any major media markets. I gave evidence that advertising changes how candidates poll, but you're just waving that away, asserting that, without advertising, Edwards could rise in the polls (and of course voting) based on... what?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 12:44 PM
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For years I've been expecting the money to slowly ebb away from TV. It's still more trickle than flood; starting small remains the only firewall against the money running the show.

I still wish we could have started with caucuses in several states (Louisiana springs to mind), but a national primary would settle the issue with what I consider unseemly haste. Whatever we look for in the way of "experience", I am sick to death of seeing nominees who don't even want a mandate--other than to continue seeming vaguely preferable to the alternative among people who don't give a shit anyway.

Building a movement from out of literally nowhere (in the middle of which I believe you'll find Iowa) is an important skill. A candidate who does it before our eyes has to give voters some reason for support, and voters may actually care enough to expect their support to result in some specific course of action. The downside so far of Iowa has been that the only way to buy the vote seems to be ethanol subsidies. But I'd rather watch candidates pandering to actual live voters than imagine them schmoozing rent boys (bundlers? really?).

At any rate, I favor any process that includes three months or more during which there are three or more "viable" candidates per party.


Posted by: Rah | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 1:29 PM
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JRoth: I'm not saying he'd do well, necessarily. My point is that he didn't win under the current system in 2004, and there's not much evidence he'll win this time around even if he takes Iowa. Clinton or Obama are still much better bets. So the argument that moving to a national primary would shut people like him out rather begs the question - Edwards is pretty much shut out anyway, and genuine upstarts like Kucinich even more so.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 1:58 PM
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Yeah, but in Kucinich's case that's a good thing.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 2:05 PM
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Edwards is pretty much shut out anyway

He's polling even with Obama and Clinton in Iowa. How is he shut out in the current system?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 2:08 PM
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For years I've been expecting the money to slowly ebb away from TV.

Huh? Based on what trend?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 2:10 PM
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68: Presumably Edwards manages his campaign differently if he knows he has to face a national primary instead of betting on Iowa. It's hard to say.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 2:15 PM
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Here is a list of proposed solutions to the broken primaries problem. I'm going to a meetup sponsored by these folks tonight.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 2:23 PM
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73: Maybe the trend that internet advertising etc. is proving to be more effective (according to ad people). Obviously it's a long time before it can *replace* TV, but you'd perhaps think the money would bleed out more than it has.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 2:26 PM
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76: That assessment might be colored by how Internet advertising is undeniably better for specialized products, where you're doing great if you find 10,000 buyers nationally. Internet ads are probably increasing in proportion of campaign spending, but I don't see why the absolute spending in TV ads should decrease much until the number of eyeballs there goes way down.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 2:37 PM
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Or in short, I don't see how 69's "trickle" actually has the prospects to turn into a flood, barring a huge rearrangement of media.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 2:38 PM
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"He's polling even with Obama and Clinton in Iowa. How is he shut out in the current system?"

Because that's one state, and one in which he should in principle be leading by quite some way. If he doesn't win Iowa, he doesn't stand a chance, and even if he does, he's clearly not going to win New Hampshire.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 2:54 PM
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77: well, there's also swift-boating. That's expensive shit.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 2:59 PM
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FWIW, here's why I think candidates like Edwards might fare better in a shortened electoral season (not that that's the reason I support one, but anyway...). Ads aren't everything. The media plays a huge role in deciding which candidates are "serious contenders" and which are ridiculed or marginalised. And they do that by creating narratives. Narratives take time to develop, partly because they rely to a certain extent on events and statements, and partly because everyone is looking over their shoulder to make sure they're bigging up/knocking down the same candidates as everyone else. At the start of campaigns you get a reasonable amount of diversity of support among pundits. As the months progress, they coalesce around certain favoured candidates. There would be much less time for that process to occur in a drastically shortened electoral season. The ostensibly objective media has to (by convention) present all the candidates initially, so outsider candidates might get a fairer shake than under the current system, whereby most are written off by the time Iowa comes around, let alone the rest of the primaries (cf Ron Paul, whose fundraising hasn't helped him get any traction, or even an appearance on Fox's debate). Obviously general narratives like "Democrats weak and effeminate, Republicans strong and manly" are already established, but they matter less in primaries for obvious reasons. The ad spending issue is real, but at the same time a shorter season means you need to raise less money overall, and any change to the primary system should just be part of a general overhaul of how presidential elections are run, which would in my ideal world include serious changes to campaign finance rules (by constitutional amendment if legally necessary).

I'm not saying it's a panacea by any means, and like I say my reasons for supporting short campaigns have little to do with outsider candidates and much more to do with democratic considerations - usually outsider candidates are outsiders because they wouldn't have much support even in an ideal world. But I think remarkably rose tinted glasses are being applied to the prospects for non establishment or media darling candidates in the current setup. It's simply not a good enough reason to keep a fundamentally broken, conservative and anti-democratic electoral process.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 5:52 PM
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It's shocking how close things are on the Dem side right now -- Edwards, Clinton, and Obama all within a percentage point of each other with 30% of the precincts reporting? Yow!


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 6:58 PM
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Wow, serious dead heat action.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:00 PM
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Everybody hearts the Huck.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:02 PM
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What's a good (perhaps online?) source of information, where I can get frequently updated results without having to listen to the pundits blathering on about candidates' hairstyles and etc?


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:03 PM
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The Iowa Democratic Party's website (via Kos) is reporting live results. Edwards was ahead, but it looks like Obama is taking a bit of a lead. I was hoping for Edwards in 1st with Obama in 2nd. It disgusts me that Biden is beating Dodd by a factor of 10 or something.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:04 PM
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Talking Points Memo has a frequently updated results scoreboard.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:04 PM
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Huckabon't!


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:11 PM
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And good to see you back, Tim.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:12 PM
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don't get too disgusted, BG--the 15% threshhold makes it all about concentration of support for the less popular candidates, & Biden got some local endorsements.

So now the leading Republican candidates seem to be Huckabee & McCain? Whoa. I should be worried--I find Huckabee somewhat likeable in interviews, & I think McCain is the most likely to win--but I'm just too happy seeing Romney & especially Giuliani lose to get too upset.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:21 PM
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MSNBC just cut away from Huckabee headquarters to show... McCain, in New Hampshire.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:22 PM
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WOO OBAMA!! Projected for Iowa.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:25 PM
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Huckabee?? I mean, I'm not surprised, he was surging, but stilll.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:25 PM
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Goooooooobama!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:25 PM
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Wow!


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:26 PM
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Woooooooo! Wooooooooo!

And Giuliani is losing to Thompson.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:28 PM
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Huckabee?? I mean, I'm not surprised, he was surging, but stilll.

It wasn't that long ago that Pat Robertson won the Iowa GOP caucus.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:31 PM
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moooooohaha, guiliani! Who's perverted NOW?


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:31 PM
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Heh. My 'Middle Americans won't vote for a New Yorker' theory is confirmed.

So, for the Democrats, does this count as a tie?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:32 PM
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97: I know, I know. And the guy's nice sounding but he's a caricature of a religious candidate that someone would dress up for SNL.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:32 PM
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It's great that Giuliani is losing, whether to Thompson or to any candidate whatsoever. On the other hand, it was just last week that Frederick of Hollywood opined that there is currently no woman in America fit to be President. God.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:33 PM
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99: Sorta. Didn't Edwards really need to take Iowa?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:34 PM
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I'm so much more excited by the Huckabee win than I am by the projected Obama win.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:34 PM
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Don't mean to burst your anti-Rudy bubble or anything, but he wasn't even really running in IA.

Still.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:34 PM
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LB--I think that Obama can claim that he won. I'm uncomfortable withthe fact that Clinton is so close behind Edwards. I'd like to see her fall further behind, because I don't think that Edwards has a strong NH organization.

I should stop wanting people to win. The minute I fall for a candidate he loses.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:34 PM
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99: I'll give you that it counts as somewhat meaningless, although it adds some grist to the (pointless) electability mill.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:35 PM
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does this count as a tie?

I don't think it was ever realistic to expect a margin bigger than 36-31-31.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:35 PM
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excited by the Huckabee win

How come?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:35 PM
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102: Probably, but I hadn't really thought about (or seen anyone else think about) a result this close. I think it really depends on whether the media shuts him out of coverage because he 'lost' -- if they don't I think he's still in.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:36 PM
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99: latest is 36.37 Obama, 30.47 Edwards, 30.15 Clinton with 1448 of 1781 reporting. That's borderline on the "is it a tie" question & Obama seems to be creeping up-- though it's obviously incredibly close & if the media didn't have its head up its ass it would signal "hey, three way race" until South Carolina at least.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:38 PM
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Didn't Edwards really need to take Iowa?

Beating Hillary, even by a smidgen, is quite good enough for the moment.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:38 PM
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Richardson's got 2% of the state overall. Clinton has fallen below 30%. I really really want Edwards to beat Clinton. I wanted him to win, but I want Clinton pummelled almost as much.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:39 PM
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108: Eh. I hate the fundies and all, but the level of raw contempt thrown their way of late by their erstwhile partners was sickening. And I'm (a) increasingly fine with any Dem nominee, and (b) not sure the US will elect a black guy just yet. So....


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:39 PM
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Chris Matthews is such a doofus & makes so little sense & is so much like a kid on a sugar high on election day that it actually bothers me less than usual.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:40 PM
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109: a result this close

If anything, the last pollster.com page predicted an even smaller margin between first and second. Perhaps a lot of the non-viables ended up shifting to Obama?


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:40 PM
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Do you know who the real winner is tonight? America. America is the real winner.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:42 PM
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Kucinich & Richardson both asked their supporters to go for Obama as 2nd choice.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:42 PM
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There's one Dodd delegate. We should find a way to buy him a drink.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:42 PM
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the level of raw contempt thrown their way of late by their erstwhile partners was sickening

Huh, interesting. I always enjoy seeing this, myself, because I would like it to create a big fat poisonous rift in the Republican party.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:43 PM
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Howard Dean is trying really hard not to say "Obamer"


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:49 PM
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WHat channel is Dean on? Right now I wish that I had cable TV. I miss seeing Dean.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:50 PM
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he was on MSNBC briefly. hit the right notes: three strong candidates, great turnout, etc.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:54 PM
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109: I hadn't really thought about (or seen anyone else think about) a result this close

I expected a result this close for the Dems, but I couldn't tell you why, really, given that Edwards seemed to be drowning in the fog. A little surprised by Obama's lead, but people just like his Fresh! Young! Dynamic! rhetoric.

I'm more interested in the Republicans, really. My mother, creepily (because she's a Dem), likes Romney. I can't quite tell why. Giuliani's been far too close to insanity: it shows. Huckabee in the lead doesn't surprise me at all.

Huh.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 7:56 PM
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Interesting perspective from Dick Polman:

[I]f Barack Obama wins decisively tonight on the Democratic side (by a margin that obliterates the aforementioned nuances), it can't be dismissed as just a flaky Iowa outcome. It would mean that large numbers of white people were willing to stand in front of their white neighbors and declare themselves for an African-American candidate. That would be significant in itself...

I am quite happy to have been wrong.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 8:03 PM
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Holy crap, Tim Russert looks like a happy cartoon character.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 8:05 PM
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I've favored Edwards over Clinton all along, but her speech was a lot better. Now I must catch Obama's (thank you, TiVo!).


Posted by: Rah | Link to this comment | 01- 3-08 9:13 PM
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