National Primary for 2012?
Ron Gunzburger reports on an effort to federalize the presidential primaries starting with the 2012 cycle:
Three US Senators are out with an innovative plan to change the Presidential primary process in future years. The bipartisan trio want to end the frontloaded primary calendar. US Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) are the sponsors of the proposal to mandate a federally regulated Presidential primary calendar starting in 2012. The plan would preserve the first-in-the-nation status of the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary. Following IA and NH would be four regional contests — South, Northeast, Midwest and West — being held once a month and determined by a random drawing. Expect much opposition to the idea, but I think it’s worth a look.
While I prefer a two-stage national primary, this idea does have merit in that it would at least restore some order to the process. My only real objection is that I’d do away with the separate Iowa and New Hampshire votes, going to the four regional contests only.
Aside from whether this idea will fly, it’s unclear whether Congress actually has the authority to mandate this. Party primaries are not federal elections, after all.