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March 06, 2012

Some Random Thoughts On The GOP Primary Process

Today is Super Tuesday and while there aren't enough delegates at stake today to end the race officially but if Romney does well (and he will simply based on Virginia) this thing will basically be over.

So while this campaign season is fresh on our minds, I just want to throw out a couple of thoughts on how we could improve the process for next time. Some are laws which are obviously beyond the party's control. Think of it as a, "If I were King for a day" type thing.

In no particular order:

1- Stop the caucus nonsense. Normally I'm all for things that make voting more of a commitment rather than less but this idea that you can only go at a certain time and have to spend an hour or so is silly.

Another problem with the caucus system is that the votes don't necessarily wind up being reflected in the delegates awarded. You can win a local caucus but if none of your supporters stick around long enough, a representative of another candidate may be "elected" to represent that caucus at the convention that actually selects the delegates.

It's just a stupid system all around and has to go.

2- Close the primaries. If you can't be bothered enough to register for a party you don't get to help shape its future. You know why I don't get to vote on matters at the Microsoft share holder meeting? I don't own stock in Microsoft. You want a say in how something is run, get some skin in the game. Registering as a member of the party is a pretty low threshold but an important one.

3- Ditch the debates until there are 2 or 3 candidates and don't let the MFM within a mile of them. When the filed is bigger at the start we should have candidate forums like the ones Jim DeMint and Mike Huckabee had. Give each candidate 15 minutes or whatever works out on their own to answer the same questions from a panel of GOP/conservative commentators and experts.

If cutting the MFM out means they won't air them, so be it. Set up some online streaming outlet, get the blogs and online media involved and you'll have plenty of interest with those who care.

Once the field is winnowed down you can go to the more traditional head to head but again...no Democratic operatives (aka "reporters" allowed).

4- Lower ballot access requirements. New Hampshire does it right ($1,000 and you're in), Virginia does it wrong (10,000 signatures with a minimum of 300 or 400 from each congressional district). These high barriers to entry place a premium on fundraising and organization when the focus should be on candidate ability and message. Yes the ability to raise money and organize is important but that places too much importance on the "invisible primary"...the ability to line up consultants, financial backers and endorsements. This leads to a system where people who want to run have to spend 4 or more years doing it. It also scares off latecomers.

What's the point of having early states like Iowa and New Hampshire give a shot to lesser known candidates to win if they can't then capitalize on that victory because they didn't have the resources soon enough to fight later on? If you keep the same kind of ballot access rules we might as well start the campaign in Florida, Texas and California and be done with it. You either have the money to run a million ads on day one or your out. Right now it's a sham to say smaller states can give a relative unknown a legitimate shot.

5- Get rid of campaign finance limits. There's no reason why the ability to raise money should be the end all and be all of a campaign. More importantly, there's no reason why people who have money shouldn't be able to promote their beliefs by supporting the candidate of their choice.

You can set a floor level of donation (I don't know, $25,000) that has to be reported on a daily basis. This way everyone will know who is giving how much to each candidate right away and make their decisions accordingly.

6- End early voting. The news moves fast and everyone should be working off the same information when they vote. We've seen wild swings this year and we probably will again in the future. There's no reason candidates should be able to get voters to decide before election day, everyone should have the same amount of time to persuade voters and maybe even change their minds.

You might say this is sour grapes because a lot of the current rules helped Romney and I'm not a fan of his. My response would be he's playing within the rules as they are set up now and good for him. I just think a lot of the rules and laws we have now don't reflect the media and technological world we live in and bringing them up to date will serve all of us better.

Some of these might not work out how I'd like them to but I think we should put some effort into how things have gone over the last few cycles and make improvements where we can.

You guys have any suggestions?

Addendum: I could add in "Don't let Iowa and New Hampshire go first" but I said this is what I'd do if I were King for a day and their place on the calendar is decreed by God Himself (or so people in Iowa and New Hampshire tell us).

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posted by DrewM. at 11:20 AM

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