Sunday, September 09, 2007

News of the Week on Presidential Primaries

Can parties impose order on '08 calendar?

By Ariel Sabar
The Christian Science Monitor
4 September 2007

As states seek the limelight with earlier primaries, the national parties threaten harsh penalties.

The national political parties will face a moment of truth in coming weeks: Can they impose order on a primary calendar that has states leaping over one another to host the first presidential nominating contest?

The Democratic National Committee took its boldest step of the year late last month, threatening to strip Florida of all its delegates to the national convention unless the state pushes back its Jan. 29 primary date.

The Republican National Committee vowed last week to dock half the delegates of any state with a GOP primary before Feb. 5, a group expected to include Florida, Michigan, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Wyoming.

But party organizations in many of those states remain defiant. Some insist it's time for New Hampshire and Iowa to share the spotlight with other states, while others portray their early dates as a protest against a nominating system they see as broken.


Remember 1984
The year of the lengthy primary season we now long for
By Jeff Greenfield
7 September 2007

With the presidential nominating season now threatening to spill forward into early January—or Boxing Day—or Halloween—a lamentation is ringing through the land (or at least among the politically obsessed). It goes something like this: "Why can't a wide variety of states, small and large, have a genuine say in the nomination? Why can't the voters have the time they need to get a real sense of the candidates' strengths and weaknesses?"

Why not? For the answer, look to 1984—not Orwell's dystopian novel, but the Democratic nominating calendar of little more than 20 years ago. That year, Walter Mondale and Gary Hart battled for the chance to take on incumbent Ronald Reagan. And what now seems an impossibility—lots of states with real clout, lots of time for voters—was pretty much what happened. And while the process ended with the traditional gnashing of teeth and rending of garments that greets the end of every primary season, it seems a model compared to the truncated six-week campaigns of recent years and the real possibility of an even shorter season this time around.


Nominate a new primary system
Roanoke Times
Roanoke, Virginia
9 September 2007

The national political parties must repair a primary system that is sinking into chaos.

The primary system, quite plainly, is broken. Restoring order for the 2008 election is all but impossible. The national parties must look to creating a more reasonable primary system for 2012.

Proposals have been floated for reform, but the national parties have declined to fool much with the status quo.

One popular proposal, dubbed the American Plan, begins with contests in small-population states and grows progressively as the nominating process advances. The schedule consists of 10 multi-state primaries evenly spaced over 20 weeks.




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