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January 05, 2012

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Good analysis, Doc. But what about all those corporate people who appear to be domiciled in Delaware?

"But what about all those corporate people who appear to be domiciled in Delaware?"

The can show their I.D.s (in denominations of $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100) at the polling booths.

The little people can flash their gun permits, like Texans do.

The antidote to Citizens United is Citizens Ignited.

Help me here: why is skin color such an important driver of which state should have its primary first?

McKinney, because different ethnic groups have different concerns? We judge so much of our other items by wealth and ethnicity/race that it makes sense if you were going to use an easily utilized heuristic, that those two come to mind to get a breakdown that is vaguely more representative of the United States population as a whole.

Yeah, it is a heuristic, which means it has its faults; but are there another two factors you'd suggest using instead, or is this a "I don't like it, but I don't have a better solution right now, but there should be one!" type comment.


McKinney, because different ethnic groups have different concerns? We judge so much of our other items by wealth and ethnicity/race that it makes sense if you were going to use an easily utilized heuristic

So, there's no diversity of thought among ethnic groups, only diversity of pigmentation/culture?

Yeah, it is a heuristic, which means it has its faults; but are there another two factors you'd suggest using instead, or is this a "I don't like it, but I don't have a better solution right now, but there should be one!" type comment.

Why have any factors? Why categorize Americans and dole out accordingly?

I'd prefer a system where the primary calendar was ordered randomly every four years. Since most states are small states, that means that small states would still often be first. And a random calendar avoids making any state feel like it is "losing" something. Any fixed ordering gives some states (and their major constituencies) more political power than they should have. Would we be stuck with such an awful awful ethanol policy if Iowa wasn't first? If Delaware is first, won't that increase the power of the banking/credit sector?

Plus, I'm really not sure that 'small states make retail politics feasible' argument works at all. Gingrich was destroyed by Romney's SuperPACs hammering him with negative ads after all.

Moreover, I actually think that having Alaska and Hawaii participate early occasionally would be good. They're part of America too and I think our political and media elites would benefit from having some exposure to them.

as long as we're talking about changing the primary calendar, let's just have all states go on the same day. non-consecutive primaries are a stupid idea. there's no good reason to let any state go first (and WTF is up with states that don't vote until late spring??)

it's a stupid stupid stupid system.

I think this says it all.

Think I'd prefer Turbulence's suggestion of 4 randomly selected states every 4 years.

And maybe not allow any voting to happen until a little later in the year too. Campaigning more than a year out, seems a good way to ensure only the 'richest' can compete as well as anything. (Not that I expect any 'poor' candidates to EVER have any real hope of winning.)

If you want a slightly better way of measuring ethnic diversity, you might want to go with a measure that shows the probability that two randomly selected people will be from the same group. It's basically the sum of the squares of the fractions of population in each group. So assuming you're going to use non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black, Hispanic of any race, Asian/Pacific Islander, Native American, and other (including people of two or more races) as your groups, and data from the 2010 Census the USA as a whole would give you:

NHW: 0.637^2 = 0.406
NHB: 0.122^2 = 0.015
HAR: 0.163^2 = 0.027
API: 0.072^2 = 0.005
NA: 0.007^2 = 0.000
OTH: 0.021^2 = 0.000
Total = 0.453

@cleek:

The problem with doing everything on the same day is that it gives a huge advantage to rich, establishment candidates over less well known ones. The only people who would be able to get onto enough ballots to win the nomination, much less get enough media time to win over voters, are people who are already national figures. The current system, for all its numerous flaws, does give a chance to less well known but more competent candidates.

cleek, the whole purpose of the exercise (as defined) is to give a chance to candidates who are not super-rich (or well funded) to make a mark in a few states which are small enough to deal with retail. Then they can use that visibility to try and work up enough funding to compete in the larger states (where you have to have money for media buys, because there is no way to campaign except wholesale).

Now you can argue that life would be simpler if we just had all candidates (and would-be candidates) be strictly government-funded. Then everybody would have an equal chance and we could run all of the primary campaings in parallel. Of course, then we would have even more ego-driven no-hope "candidates" than even the Republicans have had this year.

I'm not sold on the ethnicity as the best predictor. What I did was look at how the various states voted in the Presidential election. Over the past ten elections, Delaware has voted for the winner, 8 times - not a bad record, although only 3 out of the last 5. By contrast, both Iowa and New Hampshire have voted for the winner 4 out of the last 5 times, and New Hampshire's record over the past 10 elections is as good as Delaware's That sounds like NH is a pretty representative state from a political standpoint.

Of course, Arkansas has an even better record, picking 9 of the last 10 winners as well as 4 of the last 5. I have not checked all the states, so it may be that there are some which have done even better, but it seems to me that this is a better gauge than color of skin.

The political parties are engaged in vigorous competition to sell us a product. That product is the slate of politicians that the party will then present to the public for consideration of hiring (buying) them. However, unlike Walmart that pays for its advertisement and for its product line development, the political parties have the customers (i.e., us) pay for researching the product, advertising it, and deciding which product we will buy.

In addition, turnout for primaries is low and is dominated by fringe groups and activists. This further encourages primary candidates to take fringe positions (Santorum is a good example) since that will be what attracts primary voters. Once selected to run, they invariably move somewhat to the center in order to attract the voters likely to vote in the real election.

I, for one would prefer doing away with the primary system completely. The parties can research their available pols and decide which ones they wish to put forward for election. Given the huge amounts spent on primary campaigns, that might even lower the cost of running for office a little.

I, for one would prefer doing away with the primary system completely. The parties can research their available pols and decide which ones they wish to put forward for election.
I'd like to remind you that the primary system actually is the system that the parties use to "research their available pols and [to] decide which ones they wish to put forward for election. The primary system was introduced because the populace got tired of back-room politics where party elites would agree on the nominee.

The antidote to Citizens United is Citizens Ignited.

I'd like to see a bill introduced that would amend Citizens United so that, if a corporation is to be treated as a group of individuals, then it must be all of the individuals in that corporation, not just the C-Suite. The bill would never get anywhere, but it would show all the low-information voters just how hoodwinked they are.

Why is Hawai'i too far away to be first? It's a five-hour plane ride from the West Coast, about the same as from California to NY.

We'd dearly love to be involved, we so rarely are out here. We're still bitter about Carter conceding even before our polls closed in 1980, because it had an effect on downballot races here.

We are still bitter about that in WA too, but you can't get away from the fact that Hawaii is never going to be on the road trip for any candidate any more than we are. They like traveling all those dinky states all clumped together no bigger than a county.

Back in 2004 there was an outlier of a poll which seemed to indicate GWB had a chance here; we got campaigning by Darth Vader Cheney in person for about a half-day.

@wj

Now you can argue that life would be simpler if we just had all candidates (and would-be candidates) be strictly government-funded. Then everybody would have an equal chance and we could run all of the primary campaings in parallel.

Except, of course, that they wouldn't all have an equal chance. Unless the funding were enough to pay for a big enough media blitz to generate name recognition, candidates who are already well know would have a big lead. And candidates who can generate free media coverage- incumbents, other high office holders, celebrities, etc.- will have a big advantage, too.

debbie,

What does this mean?

I'd like to see a bill introduced that would amend Citizens United so that, if a corporation is to be treated as a group of individuals, then it must be all of the individuals in that corporation, not just the C-Suite.

As I understand it, the ruling in effect says that all corporations have the right to engage in political speech (as opposed, for example, to media companies only). That necessarily means that the people who are authorized to spend the corporation's money get to spend it that way. So I don't get what you are suggesting? Make line workers take over corporate finances?

FuzzyFace, I can only speak for this country in Europe, not the US, but it is quite common here that entities have to ask their members/shareholders/equivalent-thereof when they intend to spend money on things that are not the primary purpose of that entity. So, if e.g. the primary purpose of that entity is to manufacture then anything related to production can be decided by the leadership but if it wants to spend money on e.g. unrelated charity or political lobbying* it has (often not always) to get the permission of the shareholders. Most often this comes up in connection with unions (and the mandatory student organisations at universities). The courts have to deal on a regular base with members protesting against political spending by the leadership that has little to do with the legal purpose of the union etc. The court decisions are mixed on that. There have been dismissals (=spending legitimate within the mandate), rebukes (=spending legitimate but only with member consent) and outright convictions (spending illegitimate because not within mandate at all). Rules exist both on the (state) legal level (=law forbids certain types of spending by certain entities) and on the (entity) statute level (=it's in the rule book of the entity that certain actions require authorization not just by the leader- but also the member/ownwership). Basically it is "You are hired to do X. If you want to do Y=/=X then you have to ask for permission first. If you want to do Z, that's out of the question."

*gray area because some lobbying can be seen as directly related to business while other political activites are not.

cleek, the whole purpose of the exercise (as defined) is to give a chance to candidates who are not super-rich (or well funded) to make a mark in a few states which are small enough to deal with retail.

maybe, but that doesn't mean it's not a stupid system.

the race will likely be effectively over in March, but there are 13 states that don't have primaries until May and June.

why should Iowa, NH and SC have all this influence while NC, IA, NJ and CA (FFS!) have essentially none? tradition? bah.

it's a stupid system, regardless of the intent.

FuzzyFace, if corporations have the right to promote their political opinions with their money, then I think that the entire corporation needs to be represented. As it is now, it's management that's making all the decisions, when the entire employee roster (and shareholders) should have a voice in it too. After all, they are part of the corporation.

I've thought about this myself, from the point of view of the parties. The Republican party wouldn't want Utah to be the first state in the primary, because the winner would appeal only to conservative Republicans, only win conservative Republican states, and lose the election.
Likewise, they wouldn't want DC to be first, since the winner probably wouldn't appeal to conservatives and would end up losing conservative Republican states and the election. Same goes for the Democrats, in reverse. What each party wants is a candidate who can win closely contested states.
So obviously the primaries should start with the states with the closest results in the previous election, and work their way down to the more extreme results in either direction. For 2008, it goes Missouri, North Carolina, Indiana, Montana, Florida, Ohio, Georgia, South Dakota, Arizona, North Dakota, Colorado, South Carolina, Iowa, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Texas, by which point there are probably enough delegates. Hold Democratic and Republican primaries simultaneously and have them all completely open. Sounds workable to me.

McKinneyTX asked:

Why have any factors? Why categorize Americans and dole out accordingly?

-- with particular regard to race & ethnicity.

Answer: it's not about skin color, it's about diversity of experience. It is a *fact* that the experiences of Americans in different racial/ethnic categories are likely to be different -- just as people in different income categories are likely to have different experiences. Human beings aren't all that good at imagining the viewpoints of people who aren't very much like them.

Delegating the job of winnowing presidential candidates to a few people in Iowa and New Hampshire can be expected to give results that don't reflect what people in Texas or California would have done.

There's also the matter of buy-in. The more crucial decisions are only made by a particular group -- white Christians who don't live in large cities, for instance -- the more people who aren't part of that group will feel disconnected from the process, like it's not really about them.

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