Well, it is a change election, so while we're on the topic why not change the method of selecting presidential nominees in the future? If Obama and the DNC have their way, that's just what the Democrats will do. At issue? The frontloading of presidential nominating events. [What, again? Didn't we already do this four years ago and four years before that and... Yes, and we'll do it again until we get it right.
The proposed commission would be tasked with examining the frontloading problem and devising potential solutions. For once the GOP is actually out in front on this one. They are set to discuss the Ohio Plan at their convention in St. Paul next month. That proposal would grant the Favored Four (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina) their position at the front of the line, but would grant a collection of the smallest remaining states the option of holding their contests next, prior to bigger states (which would be divided into three groups). Following the early states, the small state group would vote on the third Tuesday in February. The first group of larger states would then vote two weeks later with the final two groups stretching out three and six weeks beyond that.
The DNC and Obama spokespersons were not terribly clear about the direction in which the party wanted to head, but did target the caucus system (still a Clinton supporter sore point) and frontloading as things that needed to be addressed prior to the next cycle.
But here is what they did say:
Protect the Favored Four?
"Obama continues to believe in the important role that Iowa and New Hampshire have historically played in the process of choosing our party’s Presidential Nominee and the important early role Nevada and South Carolina had in 2008," [Obama spokesman, Nick] Shapiro added.Scale back the window in which primaries and caucuses can be held?
"So, we are recommending that our nominating rules be amended so that no primary or caucus can be held prior to the first Tuesday in March, except for the four pre-window states."Stop frontloading?
"We are asking the Democratic Party to review this frontloading and look for a workable solution to reduce it," Shapiro wrote.
I'm with Shapiro on those first two points. That's been done before. The Favored Four are favored for a reason (tradition) and the beginning point of the window has been moved before. The GOP moved it into February in 2000 and the Democrats followed suit over the course of the 2004 and 2008 cycles. But to undo that shift forward? That hasn't been done. And there still has been no viable solution to the frontloading problem. Well, there is no shortage of solution ideas, but there is a decided lack of methods for carrying those ideas out.
On its surface, scaling the window back to the first week in March (for all non-exempt states) would essentially return the calendar to its pre-2000 form. And that first week in March timing is not too far off from the starting point for all the non-exempt states (the Favored Four in other words) in the Ohio Plan proposal that the GOP has advanced. [Ooh, is that a hint at the potential for bipartisan accord on this issue?] However, preventing states from jumping that point and not crowding in on that early March Tuesday is going to be where the real work on this issue will need to be done. And that is where the ability of state parties, partisans of both stripes in state governments and the national parties working together to come to a solution comes into play. Well, if that's all, it should be a snap.
It won't be, but I'll certainly have my eye on the conventions in the coming weeks to see not only how this proposed commission fares but whether the Ohio Plan passes muster at the GOP convention (the only time they can deal with the issue prior to 2012). The new commission would have a report ready no later than January of 2010.
And here's the word from Iowa.
The Electoral College Map (8/20/08)
On VP Predictions: Timing and Choices
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