An Awful Way to Pick Presidential Candidates

January 17, 2012

The selection process for U.S. presidential nominees does a great disservice to voters and aspiring candidates.  The use of state primaries was developed to make the choice more democratic but in practice has made it less so than when the main vetting of candidates was done by party professionals.

In the Iowa caucus, Mitt Romney captured 24.56% of the caucus votes cast, 5.0% of registered Republicans in Iowa, 1.0% of that state’s population and somewhat less than 0.01% of the U.S. population.  The next stop in the race was New Hampshire, where Romney practically qualifies as a favorite son candidate.  There the former Massachusetts governor won 39.3% of votes cast, 7.4% of the state’s population and around 0.03% of the U.S. population. 

Listen to the campaign commentaries, and that underwhelming mandate from two states comprising less than 1.4% of the U.S. population is tantamount to game, set and match in the 2012 republican nomination sweepstakes. 

Any number of different methods of choosing would be better than the current way.  One is tempted to revert to smoke-filled rooms, except that such would arouse accusations of corruption, as if the current process isn’t susceptible that same danger.  But here’s a suggestion that preserves state-by-state votes yet manages to give all of them a proportional say in the final outcome.  Why not embargo all the state results until all the primaries and caucuses have been held to limit the effect of one state’s outcome on the results of later state elections?  Doing this would also allow developments that occur closer to the November general election to help shape the final choice.  Deciding who is the best candidate to represent the Republican, or Democratic Party for that matter, some ten months before the November election is not an optimal way to pick a standard-bearer.

Copyright 2012, Larry Greenberg.  All rights reserved.  No secondary distribution without express permission.


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