Monday, November 12, 2007


Maybe I've said this before, but let me say it again:

The guy who's mired in fourth place in national Republican presidential polls is actually beginning to look like the inevitable GOP nominee (at least to some observers), just because his strategy of focusing exclusively on early states is starting to pay off (his lead is increasing in New Hampshire and he's gaining ground in South Carolina) and this is custom-tailored to the way the press will assess the results of early-state contests (i.e., "Romney won one/two/three states, so he's now automatically everyone's favorite candidate and he's the only person we're going to talk about from now on").

And on the Democratic side, it's actually starting to look as if Hillary Clinton might not win the nomination, even though she's about 23 points ahead of Obama in national polls, primarily because the race is sort of tight in Iowa and tightening somewhat in New Hampshire.

If the early states have a huge, disproportionate effect on the primary races again this year -- if, in other words, the vast majority of us are, once again, essentially told that the race is over before we even get to vote -- I propose that in 2012 we cut the crap and just have an Iowa caucus and a New Hampshire primary, then declare the race for the nomination over. OK, maybe throw in a South Carolina primary just to keep it interesting. But that's it.

Really, why not? It would take millions and millions of corrupt dollars out of the system (no more Super Tuesday!) -- and it would give us exactly the same results as a uselessly extended fifty-state contest.

And once we do that, can we please take the two or three remaining contests and have them several months later? In fact, even if we keep the fifty-state system, why can't we do that? Why can't everything start later and end later? Why do we need the huge months-long gap between the determination of the nominee and the conventions? (Yeah, I know: That's when Republicans launch their character assassination campaign against the Democratic nominee while the Democrat stares like a deer in headlights and tries to decide whether to fight back. But besides that....)

Now, none of this is going to happen -- the post-New Hampshire contests are going to remain superfluous, but we're still going to waste time and money on them, and we're not even going to move the whole calendar forward, which isn't a particularly radical idea. Well, OK, then let's make it completely absurd: Let's hold the '12 Iowa caucuses a month after the '08 election. Really, we're getting there by inches, right? So let's cut to the chase -- let's have a really permanent campaign. Let's admit that horseraces are all that really get the insiders' juices flowing. If we have to have a horrible election system, let's make it as horrible as possible.

No comments: