Looking Ahead To 2020 and Beyond

As this year’s seemingly interminable primary season drags on, and we’ve yet to hit election season, I’ve come to realize how spoiled I was by 2012.  That year, everyone knew who the Democratic candidate was going to be (frustrati stupidity aside), and we all got to sit back in stunned disbelief at what the Republicans were doing.  This year showed that both parties nomination process is messy, and that the media gets things wrong more than ever.  So here are some things I’d like to see in the future.

1.  The media doesn’t start speculating on the future race until after the mid-terms.
  When I look back at it, the political press, apparently having no better things to do, were speculating about the 2016 race and handicapping it within a week after the 2012 election. Various names in both parties were touted,  “hot” potential candidates were given lots of attention, and that went on … and on.  With the exception of Hillary Clinton, not a single one of the candidates they spent enormous amounts of space speculating on is currently in the race.  That should be a lesson (it won’t), and that’s aside from the reality that no one cares, even the political junkies.

2.  No one can announce until June 1’st of the year before the electionI’d like even later, but still, 17 months is plenty.   Again, most people aren’t paying attention anyway, and it distracts from any other elections that are going on, like the local elections we have here. In fact, I’d like to see the whole exploratory committee fiction disappear while we’re at it

3.  No more caucuses.  One of the things that’s been pointed out by a number of people is that caucuses are fundamentally undemocratic.  They’re not private, they use arcane rules, take a long time, and at the end of the day, they’re only attended by the small portion of the electorate which can afford to spend an entire day in a meeting.  States have switched to a caucus from a primary, and it needs to be the other way around.

4.  Close the  primaries.  Every presidential election year the “open” primaries create headaches.  I remember all the arguments that were made for open primaries, the problem is that in actuality it’s been a failure. You have Democrats crossing over to try to sabotage a Republican candidate and vice versa, and you have independents all over the map. Each party is selecting its candidate, and that person should be picked by the people who belong to that party.

5.  Tighten up the schedule, and set rotations.  One of the biggest headaches back in 2008 was the scramble by numerous states to “get a voice” and move their primaries to an early date.  All it really ended up doing was making a mess, and extending the primary season out further than ever before.   While that’s been “fixed,” we still run from February into June.  The end result is that everyone is seriously fatigued by them, and the states at the end usually feel left out.  Instead, set up groups of states – even make them regional – and run them together in a series of “Super Tuesdays,” and rotate the group’s position each election cycle

That’s my list of “what I’d like to see in the future.”  Do I think any of that is going to happen?  Well, some.  I think the caucuses are going to be reduced, and some “open” primaries will be closed.  The first one involves some self-discipline by the media, and the  odds of that happening are about on a par with my winning the lottery.  I do think that both parties can do better than what they’ve been doing, though.

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “Looking Ahead To 2020 and Beyond

  1. I’d sign on to all of that. #1 drove me nuts. We’d worked so hard to reelect President Obama and the media acted as if that were the end of the story and his second term didn’t matter at all. Well, luckily we have a president that never stops so he shut down that silly nonsense, but truly I spent a lot of time wanting to smack some people.

    • Not only that, it was meaningless space-filler. As I said back then I had shifted my focus from local elections to the 2014 elections. The handicapping and polling of “X versus Y” for 2016 wasted a lot of time and money, and as it turns out, they got it wrong. Considering all the real news that goes on, there’s no reason for it.

  2. Rose Weiss

    i think there’s a lot of support for tightening the primary schedule, as well as for some sort of rotation. Of course Iowa and New Hampshire would scream like crazy if any other states were first!

    • Of course they would. About the only real purpose they play these days is to thin the herd a little, and they don’t do it by much.

  3. dbtheonly

    Trying to insure that no one can announce before (X) is probably unworkable and unconstitutional. So also the media speculation; how do you stop it? I’m not sure there is a line to be drawn that can work, practically. Sorry to rain on your parade.

    Now the idea of condensing the primary season has advantages and disadvantages. You mention the advantages.
    But.
    Imagine a well known media figure. He knows the buzz words and the fuzz words to sound presidential but there’s no real substance behind him. He has infinite name recognition and the ability to garner news media attention at will. He’ll run the table in a one day national primary. Even in a month long primary season his name recognition would probably be enough to run the table, particularly, if he nabs the first weeks’ dozen primaries. What you do is front load the primaries and increase the value of outside name recognition. Particularly since you’ve shut off earlier announcements and campaigning.

    Now, if that’s what you want, then fine. We’ll still be friends.

    If I’ve rained on your parade again. Apologies. It’s what I do.

    • Please read what I said. I’m not suggesting a one day national primary, I’m suggesting a series of regional or group primaries, rotated between regions/groups. They can be run over the time from early February to the end of March or early April. Right now, we go from February into June, which is far too long. A lot of this is not controlled by the states, but by the parties. Waiting until June to announce may not be feasible, but how primaries are scheduled and run are. The media can’t be stopped from speculating, but you’d think that enough public disinterest and a few of their executives getting a clue would put a kibosh on the long-term speculation. For example, if I look back at 2013, they were paying for polling and writing extensive columns about the matchup between Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie. Lots of chatter about Mike Pence, Bobby Jindal, and Paul Ryan as candidates, and you might note that two of those three didn’t run, and the one who did disappeared after Iowa.

      • dbtheonly

        I didn’t say you’d favor a single national primary day. It’s one of the options I’d heard and I included it in one sentence.

        The media will speculate about anybody. It’s what they do. Whether the speculatee has the sense to resist the siren’s call is the issue.

        Your argument is to condense the primary season. I point out that doing so favors those with high name recognition. Sanders wouldn’t be in the hole he is with the SEC primary coming later. Trump’s name recognition would carry him further in a shorter primary season. It’d also increase the value of early campaign spending. It’d increase the value of early winning.

        But your system, however you structure it, will create winners and losers, advantages and disadvantages.

      • A shorter election season seems to work pretty well for Britain.After all, we had a long time to find out about G.W. Bush and it didn’t help. Maybe people would be more interested if the campaign season was shorter but more intense. The media would to do its job, though, and focus on challenging vetting the candidates, rather than asking stupid questions and repeating gossip.

        • dbtheonly

          Ms. Mary, Britain runs a much different electoral system. There are no national level candidates, instead there are 500+ local elections. The political parties are much stronger. The country is much smaller, physically.

          The current media level isn’t intense? Coulda fooled me.

          You’re asking the media to do its job. Agreed, they’re mostly a circus with ADD. But are you ready to structure your electoral system on the belief that the media will somehow get better? Very thin reed in my opinion.

          Now Jan, (below) has a very good idea limited only by how long in advance one has to register as a member of the political party. It is unintrusive and pretty much candidate neutral. It does fly in the face of “democracy” and is frequently attacked along that line.

  4. Here is something I wish they would do in Wisconsin: “Close the primaries”.

    It bothers me a lot that people who are not in the Democratic Party, who have no skin in the game with up and down the ticket elections, state legislators, governors, are choosing the presidential candidate for the fall election. It is why the (much maligned) Super Delegates are needed: people who care if there is a Democratic Party in 2018, 2020 and 2080, need to have their thumbs on the scale. That would be less of an issue if Democrats picked their nominee and Republicans picked theirs.