Time for a National Primary

The consolidation of Super Tuesday makes the current system even more broken than before.


The Hill (“Super Tuesday bonanza raises stakes for Dems“):

A glut of Super Tuesday contests in 2020 is adding to the importance of the Democratic presidential primary’s first four contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, underscoring the need for a strong early showing ahead of what will become a nationalized campaign.

States eager to influence the outcome of the Democratic primary race are stacking next March 3 with a huge pool of delegates that will be at stake from coast to coast.

Without a big win or a surprisingly strong showing in one of those early states, candidates are likely to find their media attention and fundraising ability evaporating — particularly given the crowded field of high-profile politicians.

Many of the names battling for attention today are unlikely to even survive to March 3.

“We don’t know how many candidates will make it to Super Tuesday,” said Jeff Berman, who has run delegate operations for several Democratic presidential campaigns, including Barack Obama in 2008 and Hillary Clinton in 2016. “It’s always a sequential process.”

At least 10 states will hold nominating contests on Super Tuesday 2020, in addition to a territory and Democrats living abroad.

As it stands, at least 41 percent of all Democratic delegates will have been allocated after votes are counted on Super Tuesday. And a few states looking at moving up their contests to March 3 could add to the total.

Super Tuesday’s states vary widely in geography, racial diversity and economic outlook, from mega-state California to tiny Vermont, largely white Massachusetts to states like Texas and North Carolina, where African-American and Hispanic voters are pillars of the Democratic electorate.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), who has the sole authority to schedule his state’s primary, is likely to add the Peach State to the fray.

New York legislators are eyeing the same date, while Oregon state lawmakers this week introduced legislation to move their contest to March 3 as well.

The cluster of contests will force campaigns to pivot quickly from retail politics in the living rooms of Iowa and New Hampshire to fly-ins and larger rallies in a broad range of states across three time zones — making momentum all the more critical.

“Even a well-resourced presidential campaign has a hard time communicating at the level you need to in all these Super Tuesday states,” said Jed Ober, a top delegate counter in Clinton’s 2016 operation who now serves as chief of staff to Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.).

Having candidates spend a year or more engaged in “retail politics” in two tiny, unrepresentative states has long been a rather silly way to winnow the field. But, as campaigns start earlier and earlier with each passing cycle and states race to move their primaries earlier and earlier lest they become afterthoughts, the process makes even less sense.

The Iowa Caucuses have started this process since the dawn of the modern, primary-driven system. There was some charm to having voters from the “American Heartland” get to know the candidates up close and personal. But a population that’s 90.9% Caucasian, 3.3% African American, 2.1% Asian, 1.3% other race, 2% two races, and .4% Natives of North America is increasingly unrepresentative of a diverse nation.

Further, the very nature of a caucus means that the outcome isn’t even representative of Iowa partisans. With the notable exceptions of Dick Gephardt in 1988 and Tom Harkin in 1992, the eventual Democratic nominee won in Iowa. But they’ve almost always backed a Republican who would fail to win the nomination in competitive years: George H. W. Bush in 1980 and Bob Dole in 1988 (premature in both cases) and Mike Huckabee in 2008, Rick Santorum in 2012, and Ted Cruz in 2016.

Next, we move on to New Hampshire—which is even whiter than Iowa and a third its size. In terms of picking the eventual winner, it has been the opposite of Iowa. It almost always gets the Republicans right, with the notable exceptions of going for Pat Buchanan over sitting Republican President George H.W. Bush in 1992 and slightly favoring John McCain in 2000 over eventual nominee George W. Bush. By contrast, they almost always get the Democrat wrong, most recently going with Bernie Sanders in 2016 and Hillary Clinton in 2008.

Regardless, it makes no sense at all to have lily-white rural states (neither has a metropolitan area to speak of) winnow the candidates. They tell us nothing about their appeal to the broader country and yet a candidate who doesn’t make a strong showing in at least one of the two states is declared a loser and tends to have difficulty raising money and getting positive news coverage. That’s especially true in a cycle like this one, with a huge array of candidates desperate to break out of the pack.

Then, as noted in the Hill report, we get into a mad dash of primaries across the country, with the race likely all-but-decided on Super Tuesday, March 3. During this phase of the campaign, candidates have to make strategic choices as to which primaries and caucuses to invest resources in and which ones to skip altogether.

My longstanding preference, as noted here at least as early as January 2007, is a national primary:

The idea that candidates build name recognition in Iowa and New Hampshire and then slowly build momentum as the process moves on is a quaint one but largely mythological. Since Jimmy Carter in 1976, has any candidate emerged as a major party nominee who wasn’t an early front-runner and well-heeled? Certainly, the nominees in the past several cycles have all been early front runners.

A national primary in, say, March, with a run-off in, say, June, would be much preferable to the way we do it now. If a candidate got 50% of the vote, he’d be the nominee. If not, the top two candidates would run against one another for another six to eight weeks.

That would force everyone to engage in retail politics on the issues rather than hanging around Merrimack Restaurant with the locals. And it would virtually guarantee substantive campaigning would continue into the early summer since only shoo-ins such as sitting presidents would likely capture a majority in a multi-candidate race.

To some extent, the addition of huge states to Super Tuesday starts to get us there. But, first, it doesn’t eliminate the Iowa and New Hampshire problem. And, second, it still encourages targeting individual states more than a true national primary would.

I’m also amenable to the idea of having, say, four regional primaries with the order rotating in successive cycles. But we’re chosing nominees for the only nationally elected office in the country. We should do so on a national basis.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Campaign 2020, Presidency, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. MarkedMan says:

    There is no good way to run the primary. If we had a truly national primary, candidates would focus on, at most, ten states. That would cover half the population. I’d actually like to see that, since it would eliminate all the failed Trump states from the equation. But I’m not a Republican, so my primary motivation isn’t to make it harder for my political opponents to get a fair vote.

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  2. Teve says:

    there is a romantic idea that retail politics, voters meeting politicians in real life and shaking their hand and looking them in the eye, gives voters some kind of special insight.

    I’ve never seen any reason to believe that this is true, and I could care less what voters in South Carolina think about anything, so I’m totally on board with a different primary system.

  3. James Joyner says:

    @MarkedMan:

    If we had a truly national primary, candidates would focus on, at most, ten states.

    Maybe in terms of actually spending a lot of time there. But I suspect they’d simply focus more on “wholesale” rather than “retail” politics. And, as it is, most candidates spend all their time in Iowa and New Hampshire, never talking to the rest of the country at all, before dropping out.

  4. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Any system which would result in Donnie Dennison winning the Republican parties nomination, is extremely flawed.
    Good luck fixing it.

  5. Teve says:

    (Iowans) almost always backed a Republican who would fail to win the nomination in competitive years: George H. W. Bush in 1980 and Bob Dole in 1988 (premature in both cases)

    okay, so that was before Fox News

    and Mike Huckabee in 2008, Rick Santorum in 2012, and Ted Cruz in 2016.

    So old white people in Iowa got Fox Geezer Syndrome.

  6. Michael Reynolds says:

    If we held a national primary right now we’d be looking at a run-off between Biden and Sanders. That would not be a good thing.

    On the other hand, the grinding misery of Iowa and New Hampshire – the endless Day’s Inn’s, the introductions, the eternal diner drop-ins for convos with cretins, the cold, the snow, and above all the brain-killing repetition of the same talking points, giving the same speech again and again and again. . . No well-balanced human being can possibly look forward to all of that with anything but horror.

    It’s a shitshow. I was born under Eisenhower. Since then we’ve gone through 11 presidents. One, Barack Obama, actually did a good job and managed to keep his head on straight. The rest have been mediocrities, fantasists, serial liars, fools and now, a mentally-ill, criminal imbecile.

    You know the problem? Too much democracy. We need to return to the days when the only people who bothered with primaries were people who really gave a damn. The election equivalents of Twitter mobs – single issue voters, fanatics, extreme partisans – need to fck right off out of party politics. They can choose between A or B after grown-ups have picked A and B.

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  7. Ben Wolf says:

    The election equivalents of Twitter mobs – single issue voters, fanatics, extreme partisans…

    Does that include you trolling Glenn Greenwald on Twitter? Guess you’re out.

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  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Ben Wolf:
    I ‘trolled’ Greenwald? I had exactly one, very brief exchange with Greenwald. Jesus Ben, you used to at least be honest.

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  9. Kylopod says:

    It almost always gets the Republicans right, with the notable exceptions of going for Pat Buchanan over sitting Republican President George H.W. Bush in 1992

    Correction: In 1992, President Bush decisively beat Buchanan in the NH primary 53-37%, but it was still considered an embarrassment for a sitting president. Buchanan did win NH in 1996, besting the eventual nominee Bob Dole.

  10. Kit says:

    It seems to me that a national primary would mean that Democrats would chase their voters in their natural habitats, meaning urban areas. Consequently, these candidates could reach more of their voters in the time they have. But is that really good? When the general election rolls around, would the Democratic nominee prove stronger or weaker for having paid less attention to rural areas? A similar logic goes for Republicans, of course.

  11. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Bernie Bros are to the Dems what Trump True Believers are to the Repubs

  12. dennis says:

    @MarkedMan:

    If we had a truly national primary, candidates would focus on, at most, ten states.

    We can’t know this for sure. All it would take is for one other candidate to go the extra one or two states before other candidates would feel the need to compete and outdo. After that, they’ll leap frog to other states in order to be more competitive. The same human nature you say will limit them to 10 states is the same human nature that will prompt one or more candidates to attempt a breakout from the pack by campaigning in more states.

  13. Teve says:

    I just noticed that Barack Obama follows Michael Reynolds on Twitter.

    Dang. Now I’m jealous. 😛

  14. dennis says:

    On a semi-related point, it’s time to stop discounting white men from the Democratic race. It’s asinine and option limiting. To think white men have nothing to bring to the table is a foolish proposition. I mean, it’s nice that white folk are becoming “woke” to our systemic inequities; but let’s not cut off our noses to spite our faces. It was white structural power that built this house; it’s going to require that same white structural power to tear it down. Think on that.

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  15. Moosebreath says:

    @dennis:

    “On a semi-related point, it’s time to stop discounting white men from the Democratic race.”

    Given that 3 of the top 4 in most polling I’ve seen are the “Killer B” white men (Biden, Bernie and Beto), who exactly is discounting them?

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  16. MarkedMan says:

    @dennis:

    We can’t know this for sure. All it would take is for one other candidate to go the extra one or two states before other candidates would feel the need to compete

    I think the circumstantial evidence is pretty strong that this wouldn’t happen. Even in the national election the candidates are effectively campaigning in about 20 states. Sure, they may show up in another state but that usually involves a private fundraiser and so they schedule a token public appearance around it. If that’s the case at the nominee level given the time and resources available, I think its a pretty safe bet that it would be even less.

    Although I suspect we would see some significant behavior changes. For instance, the Republican nominee only goes to CA to attend fundraisers, because they know that a) they are going to lose CA anyway and b) even if they wanted to rouse up the few remaining CA Republicans they would have to trot out such crazy nonsense it would turn off all the normal people in the country. But at the Primary level, they go and say those crazy things. They promise they will personally castrate every male Hispanic with a red hot tire iron, round up all the Muslims and put them on a rocket to Venus and pass laws stating that woman’s word can never be taken over a man’s. But if all the votes happened on the same day it would be much harder to pivot away from the crazy on a state by state basis.

  17. MarkedMan says:

    @Moosebreath: I’m with you on this one. A white male is not really at a disadvantage. What is different is that a white male can now have their legitimacy questioned because of their race and sex, just like everyone else in the race. And just like everyone else, they have to demonstrate an ability to deal with such challenges.

  18. grumpy realist says:

    @James Joyner: The nice thing about NOT living in one of the early primary states is a) we don’t get as many robocalls, and b) lack of attention from political reporters.

  19. dennis says:

    @Moosebreath:

    My bad, MM. I should’ve said that the media should stop its narrative that rank and file Democrats as a whole discount white men as having value in the race.

  20. MarkedMan says:

    @dennis: Got it. Then I agree wholeheartedly. This type of stuff falls into the category of “I’ve got 12 column inches to fill today so how about if I take this random thing my friend said and imply that it is a trend.”

  21. Teve says:

    I’m not big on Biden, Bernie, or Beto, but I like Buttigieg.

    (and the Democrats could nominate an Orca with rabies, and it would still make a better president than Trump.)

  22. Ben Wolf says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    You got into bed with accused rapist and fugitive Assange who was himself in bed with Putin. And you expect anyone to take you seriously? Your career is Putin-enabled. This shot at Manning may be bullshit, but you’re not the guy to make the case.

    So, now that you’ve trolled as “part of the mob”, you’re out, right? Cause I don’t recall an apology, which means you still stand by the comment, which means you’re still in the mob. So you’re going to do the honorable thing and bow out of running the country as part of the “adults”, right?

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  23. Kylopod says:

    @Teve:

    (and the Democrats could nominate an Orca with rabies, and it would still make a better president than Trump.)

    This comment reminded me of a favorite quote of mine, from the 2004 book Sore Winners by John Powers:

    “I sometimes fantasized about the ideal Frankenstein candidate one could stitch together from the contenders. He would have the passion of Dean, the good looks and trial-lawyer eloquence of Edwards, the physical stature and gravitas of Kerry, the brains and record of Wesley Clark, and the left-wing dreams of Kucinich–topped off by the sharp wit, and incomparable hairdo, of Al Sharpton. But such daydreams all too easily turned into nightmares: I kept picturing Kerry’s yard-long face atop Dean’s ham of a neck, framed by Kucinich’s hairline and Wesley Clark’s sweaters, and talking about Tawana Brawley with all the moral smugness of Joe Lieberman. The scariest thing was, I thought even this second jerry-built Democrat would be a better president than George W. Bush. And I surely wouldn’t have been the only one.”

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  24. Ben Wolf says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    I can also make a list of you randomly tweeting, “fuck you” and calling people “whores”, but that’s unnecessary, right? I mean, you’ve disqualified yourself based on a rational self-assessment, I’m sure.

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  25. Teve says:

    @Kylopod: 😀

  26. Gustopher says:

    @Ben Wolf: I can never really remember what stick is up your ass. You support Bernie, don’t you?

  27. Gustopher says:

    A national primary would ruin the horse race, and favor candidates who can gather donors early. Right now, we have a year or more of distraction and sideshow from the Trump administration. I like that.

    And it gives us a chance to see how candidates perform over the long haul, and not on a single news day.

    And it gives folks like Buttigieg a chance to show up. He’s not going to win, but if he did win, it would be some long, drawn it win from behind thing.

    I’d like a randomly set primary schedule, with a higher delegate weighting on the later states. Fred Willard drawing state names from a hat on national television would be great, pausing to discuss the many fine diners of that state where candidates will have to show up and campaign.

    Break the Iowa and New Hampshire tradition, and give states an equal shot at going early.

  28. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher:

    You support Bernie, don’t you?

    Did you see that Bernie just hired a couple of nasty pieces of work (see below). Because if Bernie can’t win he will piss all over “his” team on the way out….

    Bernie Sanders has tried to assure Democrats he does not intend to run a factional splinter campaign in 2020. To that end, he has promised to endorse the nominee, and pledged he will not run a negative campaign, and to date has followed through on the latter promise. But then yesterday, his campaign announced two high-profile hires: speechwriter David Sirota and press secretary Briahna Joy Gray.

    Sirota and Gray, both very smart left-wing journalists, share a commitment to exactly the sort of left-wing factionalism that frightens Democrats. Sirota has savaged mainstream Democrats as tools of big-money interests, often in what appear to be intentionally misleading ways. In 2016, Gray dismissed reports that Russia hacked Democratic emails — which fervent Sanders supporters believed distracted from the scandals the emails revealed — and wound up voting for Jill Stein. Like Sirota, she has remained alienated from the party.

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  29. Mister Bluster says:

    Click Here to see what appears to be the most recent information available for the State, Territory and DC election laws establishing the date of presidential primaries and caucuses to “express their preference for the person to be the presidential candidate of their political party (NC)” or select delegates to national nominating conventions (see NJ).
    These are just the laws to establish the date of the event, election or caucus.
    Will it take federal laws passed by the United States Congress to supercede or abolish all this State Legislation or shall we all work to have the States agree on one date for the National Primary?
    Maybe we can all lobby to copy Louisiana and have a Saturday National Primary. If that fails will Bayou Country be forced to give it up?
    At least we won’t have to deal with revelers in Alabama as apparently recent legislation has been changed.
    (2007-2011) Section 17-13-100 (a) Primary elections for the purpose of determining the preferred candidates for President of the United States shall be held the first Tuesday in February each year in which a President is to be elected beginning in the year 2008. (c) (2) Qualified electors in Mobile County, Baldwin County, and any county that recognizes Mardi Gras as a county holiday may vote in the presidential preference primary on the Wednesday preceding the first Tuesday in February. (4) When early voting is provided, votes on that day shall be counted by poll workers at the voting centers and the results shall be sealed without disclosure… such results shall remain sealed until the first Tuesday in February, when the final tabulation and canvassing shall be conducted, after which all results shall be announced at the same time.
    County holiday?
    Besides setting the date of a National Primary are we going to eliminate Party Caucuses by federal law or are those states going to voluntarily go along with the crowd?
    And what about the political parties? Won’t the local, county and state organizations have something to say about this? After all these events are held to select their delegates.
    How will ballot access be controlled? State law or federal law?

  30. KM says:

    @Gustopher :

    Break the Iowa and New Hampshire tradition, and give states an equal shot at going early

    ^^This. Two states, drawn at random after the last election should get the honor. You know what, make it four – one each from two pools of committed red/blue states and the other two from all 50. Red/blue goes first so any repeats would get drawn from the larger 50 state pool. This way you have to go to unfavorable territory at least once. You’re statistically likely to draw at least one low-population stat, a heavily rural one, a state with a major metropolis and at least two regional areas. You’ll get 4 years to watch those states and how they trend, get pollsters on the ground early to see how the wind is blowing.

    Honestly, if Iowa and NH lose their grip, we’ll see a major change in how people run. Change the script and you’ll likely get a different outcome.

  31. grumpy realist says:

    @MarkedMan: as I get older I get grumpier about people whining about How Everyone Is Against Them. I hate people who marinate themselves in self-pity to the point of killing brain cells. Have watched a friend go down that rabbit-hole. He’s a typical “ageing white male.” Luckily I myself am an “ageing white female” so I can whap whiney “everyone is against me because I’m a woman” Social Justice Warriors across the beak and tell them to quit complaining and start achieving instead. (My roommate from MIT–also female–had at least one (female) law professor who kept whining about science and math as being “masculinist conspiracies.” My roommate did not suffer fools gladly, much to that professor’s dismay…)

  32. KM says:

    @MarkedMan :
    He’s in a for quite the shock when his adoring flock fails to show. The only people he’ll reliably draw are BernieBros (true believers and trolls alike) and those who will latch onto name recognition (that’s if Biden doesn’t jump in). The college students, the faux libertarians who just want free college and weed, and the cult of personality junkies? They’ve got a plethora of options this time around with better plans and personalities. Hell, Bernie can’t even get the “reliable old white guy” and “anti-party”cred he had last time – Schultz already went there.

    That man’s gonna be bitter AF when he doesn’t gain traction, especially if it’s to another woman candidate. 2016 all over again. It would behoove those running to have a plan for when Bernie decides to unleash the trolls.

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  33. Kathy says:

    Sometimes I just don’t get it.

    Most countries are divided into states, provinces, cantons, etc., with regional differences in culture and politics (often far wider than those in the US; see Russia and the USSR before it), but no other country seems to worry so much about their political subdivisions. I know states are supposed to be sovereign, but that’s also true in other countries, though I admit with varying degrees.

  34. Mister Bluster says:

    Two states, drawn at random after the last election should get the honor. You know what, make it four…

    Great idea!
    Now post up a draft of the Federal Legislation that will pass through both Houses of the United States Congress and land on the desk in the Oval Office in the White House that the President will sign and bring this about.
    -or-
    If this lottery is to be conducted by the political parties (all of them?) in conjunction with the states instead of the Federal Government some sort of binding agreement between those factions and the State Legislatures will have to be produced.
    Maybe you can come up with something.

    I’m guessing either one of these scenarios will make a buck or two for lawyers.

  35. Ben Wolf says:

    @Gustopher: It’s fascinating how guys like MAGA Reynolds and, in other ways, yourself, are exactly what you claim to be against. Michael has a twitter following of children whom he exposes to his hate speech, and then comes to an obscure blog to denounce those children whom he himself has trained to act reprehensibly. You talk about tolerance while attacking people on the basis of gender and sexuality.

    Weird.

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  36. James Joyner says:

    @Gustopher:

    A national primary would ruin the horse race, and favor candidates who can gather donors early. Right now, we have a year or more of distraction and sideshow from the Trump administration. I like that.

    I’m not sure the entertainment/distraction value is the main variable I’d want to design the system around 😉

    And it gives us a chance to see how candidates perform over the long haul, and not on a single news day.

    But the campaign would still have ins-and-outs. We’re having them already and we’re ten months out from any voting. There would be debates, interviews, publicity stunts, etc. And polling! And commentary! We’d still have a horse race, we just would wait until later to start eliminating people from the race. And we wouldn’t have nearly as much strategic voting.

    And it gives folks like Buttigieg a chance to show up. He’s not going to win, but if he did win, it would be some long, drawn it win from behind thing.

    My way would give him much more time to make a new for himself. I’m guessing Iowa and New Hampshire would be less likely to go for a gay brainiac than some of the other states.

  37. Hal_10000 says:

    I know we can’t turn back the clock, but I’m of the opinion we’d be better off with the smoke-filled room method. Less pandering to the extreme. Less tearing at each other. No way we get Trump. Of course, we would have gotten Clinton in 2008, so there is a downside.

    OT: I noticed Doug hasn’t posted or tweeted in a while. Hoping everything’s OK. Maybe I missed an announcement.

  38. Teve says:

    Apparently Trump spent a while at his speech today in Ohio disrespecting John McCain, and complaining that he didn’t get a thank you for approving McCain’s funeral, and saying McCain let veterans down.

    I’m getting awfully close to just putting the word Trump on mute on all my social media. I’m starting to think that being ignorant of the daily disgrace would be all positive and no negative.

  39. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Ben Wolf:
    I did tweet Greenwald, as I said. A single brief exchange is not trolling. I summoned no mob. I didn’t spend the next 20 minutes retweeting everyone who criticized Greenwald. No, I had a pretty typical Twitter exchange on heated issues.

    As for ‘hate speech,’ go fuck yourself. How’s that for hate? You’re a liar. A liar and increasingly a fanatic. I do have 20K followers and were you to look you’d find racial and gender minorities overrepresented as a percentage of the larger world. They’re judgment matters.

    I don’t know what your problem is Ben but were we to graph your apparent level of intelligence and honesty we’d see a very steep drop. Somehow Bernie broke you.

    How much time did you spend going through my Twitter feed? You know how much time I spent going through your tweets and comments? Zero minutes. And I’m the troll?

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  40. Gustopher says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    You talk about tolerance while attacking people on the basis of gender and sexuality.

    Wolfie, I mean this in the best of all possible ways, but what the fuck is your problem? Are you brain damaged? Have you been sniffing glue?

    When have I ever attacked someone because of their gender or sexuality, you wimpering little white toad? (I figured I might as well get race in there)

    I do think a woman is going to face electoral challenges that a man won’t — and I would say that the media coverage shows that to be true. Te not fair, but neither is the electoral college. Happy to be wrong about that.

    I’m also aware enough to identify my own ingrained prejudices. We all have them. I acknowledge mine, usually while making a point that if someone is 90% there, you should treat them as an ally rather than an enemy, because that’s what they are. I’m also bisexual. Lots of gay folks and progressive straight folks don’t believe I really exist, and that I am really just a weird closet case, but there’s enough common ground that they are my allies politically.

    I find the pedantic purity police tiresome and counterproductive.

    Who have I attacked?

    And really, what is your fucking problem? Was your emotional and intellectual development held back?

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  41. Hal_10000 says:

    @Teve:

    I’m getting awfully close to just putting the word Trump on mute on all my social media.

    I don’t follow the President and I’ve muted the small cadre of keyboard warriors who, apparently, hover their keyboards ready to respond to his every word (either positively or negatively). I’m very close to muting the President himself because nothing he says means anything. It’s just designed to feed the frenzy.

  42. Michael Reynolds says:

    It’s just designed to feed the frenzy.

    I think that’s the apparent motive, probably what he tells himself. But I think this is raw emotion. Fear mostly, and fear’s side dishes, rage and hate. Republicans can all put their heads in the sand, but Trump knows all the things he’s done and the crimes he’s committed. I think he’s a very frightened man, you know, along with his pathetic neediness.

    He’s been exposed as (gasp!) not even a billionaire. He’s been compromised by a hostile foreign power. He’s a tax cheat, a money launderer, a banking fraudster who in his spare time ran a bogus charity. His campaign chair is in prison. His lawyer’s going. His best friend is up next. His business affairs guy is talking freely to Mueller and the SDNY. He’s stupid, but is he really stupid enough not to at least sense the walls closing in? I think he’s a cornered rat and not smart enough to find his way out of the maze. That mans not strategizing, he’s fear-shitting on Twitter.

  43. Gustopher says:

    @Gustopher:

    I find the pedantic purity police tiresome and counterproductive.

    Thinking about this while strolling to get coffee (and limping to avoid the pain of pulling at stitches from my appendectomy)…

    I think I understand James Pearce, and I think he’s right. He does a piss poor job of communicating sometimes, though, and he gives in to his desire to be contrarian too much.

    Or I completely misunderstand him in a way that agrees with me.

    Ben Wolf’s comment does nothing but make me defensive, dislike him, and dislike the things that he stands for. And that’s the same feeling the soft Trump supporters get when they are called racist and deplorable.

    They may well be racist and deplorable, or at least comfortable with racist and deplorable, but it doesn’t really help to point that out.

    There are plenty of extreme deplorable racists to focus on, and we should be trying to find the wedge between the worst of the deplorable and the casually deplorable, rather than driving them together.

    Casually deplorable people need jobs, healthcare and growing communities too. Talk to them like they are people, not like they are deplorable.

    In too many places the economy has a lot of jobs for lower pay, and not a lot for middle class. Middle class families are falling behind. This is a real problem, and if no one does anything about it, people will vote for whoever says they will do something about it.

    Our workers shouldn’t be competing with sweatshops abroad. Trade deals need to be with equals — we shouldn’t be opening our markets to products made by exploiting workers. Some of the changes Trump got made to NAFTA were good. We need more of that.

    Immigrants and refugees aren’t taking middle class jobs. We can afford to be more generous because we are a great and strong country.

  44. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Republicans can all put their heads in the sand, but Trump knows all the things he’s done and the crimes he’s committed. I think he’s a very frightened man, you know, along with his pathetic neediness.

    I don’t think he thinks they are crimes. He thinks he’s being persecuted unfairly.

    How is paying off a porn star mistress a crime? It’s his money. Etc.

  45. MarkedMan says:

    @KM:

    That man’s gonna be bitter AF when he doesn’t gain traction, especially if it’s to another woman candidate.

    I gotta admit that’s what worries me. He is an old bitter man and his supporters are young bitter men. They will do a lot of damage inside the tent before they finally slink off. As much as I expect the worst from him and his crew I was astounded at the speed and coordination and crudity of the attacks on Kamala Harris’ sex life. That kind of internal damage will weaken the eventual nominee.

    Just look at this sniveling weasel Sirota that he just hired. The guy was taking paychecks for being a neutral journalist who was “only asking questions” but it turns out he was auditioning for a job with Bernie, showing him how effectively he could attack real Democrats.

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  46. An Interested Party says:

    Slightly off topic, but this is why Democrats don’t need to have any kind of primary debate hosted by Fox “News”…

  47. @Michael Reynolds:

    If we held a national primary right now we’d be looking at a run-off between Biden and Sanders. That would not be a good thing.

    I do agree that would not be a good thing, but we would have a different approach to the field of candidates if there was a different process.

    You know the problem? Too much democracy. We need to return to the days when the only people who bothered with primaries were people who really gave a damn.

    I would go step further and state that conventions or even some elite-level selection would be preferable. It would bring clarity to the existing parties and likely spur more third party development.

  48. @MarkedMan:

    Even in the national election the candidates are effectively campaigning in about 20 states. Sure, they may show up in another state but that usually involves a private fundraiser and so they schedule a token public appearance around it. If that’s the case at the nominee level given the time and resources available, I think its a pretty safe bet that it would be even less.

    To be direct: why does this matter? Do we expect them to campaign in all states? They go were the votes are. In the current system that means early primary state for nomination and in swing states for the general. At least in a national campaign (for either nomination or election) they would be motivated to go where the voters are.

  49. Kathy says:

    @Hal_10000:

    OT: I noticed Doug hasn’t posted or tweeted in a while. Hoping everything’s OK. Maybe I missed an announcement.

    Likewise. He last posted on march 11th. And I haven’t seen him on Facebook, either.

  50. @Kathy:

    Sometimes I just don’t get it.

    Most countries are divided into states, provinces, cantons, etc., with regional differences in culture and politics (often far wider than those in the US; see Russia and the USSR before it), but no other country seems to worry so much about their political subdivisions. I know states are supposed to be sovereign, but that’s also true in other countries, though I admit with varying degrees.

    We in the US have a weird fetish on this topic–especially on stuff like this. The geography focus also has a tendency to make us innumerate (or so it seems).

  51. @Kathy:

    He last posted on march 11th. And I haven’t seen him on Facebook, either.

    We were told, second hand, that he has a family issue he is attending to.

  52. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    To be direct: why does this matter?

    Good question. FWIW, my reasoning for wanting to force the candidates to campaign in states they otherwise wouldn’t doesn’t revolve around the voters getting a view of the candidate, but rather the opposite, i.e. the candidate spending actual time in places they otherwise might never see. One of these people will be president and many of the others will remain in public service at the highest level. One thing our screwy primary system does accomplish is to get these people, maybe for the first time in their lives, having a lot of conversations with average people from parts of the country they would otherwise never visit. And that is a good thing.

    Two of my most admired politicians are Mario Cuomo and Hillary Clinton, for the exact same reason. They are the only people that ever represented me at the state wide level who really took the time to understand local communities and local issues. Both of them came to these small places much more often than their compatriots and did their homework when they came in and could discuss the issues that impacted even towns of 20K people – a new bridge at the top of the bay, or the relentless move to make a two lane at-grade intersection road into a limited access highway. (The line that made me a life long Cuomo fan: When he was conducting a town hall in Rochester NY, someone from a small town on Lake Ontario stood up and asked him what the state was going to do about the aging bridge crossing their bay. The questioner was upset and talked about broken promises from past state and county officials. Cuomo heard him out, then asked him a question to make sure he was talking about the right bridge, and the question revealed he really did know what the guy was asking about despite being just one of thousands (tens of thousands?) of aging bridges in the state. That impressed me. But what he said next impressed the hell out me. Cuomo said a sentence or two about the state funds he had been able to get for other infrastructure during a time when budget cuts were the norm. He talked about the money they had been able to get for education and for dealing with long waits for services. He talked about how they had been able to put some money into special services for the disabled, and the mentally handicapped. And then he said, “But the budget is maxed out. We are in the midst of a recession and it’s hit our state as hard as any other. If I go back to the budget talks to get money for your bridge, we are going to have to cut something else to get it. So I ask you: What should we cut? And I mean this seriously. Make your case. What should come out of the budget so your bridge can go in?” The guy who asked the questioner went away mad. But I was just glad to be living in a state that would actually elect a person who thinks like that and was honest about it. Twice.

  53. Kathy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Would that it were your only weird fetish.;)

    The gun fetish is far worse.

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  54. Kathy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Thanks for the update.

  55. I suspect that an advantage of state-by-state primaries is that it works as a kind of IRV – instant runnof voting, but in a way easily processed by human brains (in each primary, the last candidates drop from the election, having less and less candidates each week)

  56. @MarkedMan: There are some admirable notions in your post. I just don’t think that the costs (such as the bizarre distortions of privileging small, early states in the process) is worth the possibility that contact with those small states will teach the candidates something about said states.

  57. @Kathy: No argument there.

  58. Andy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    As for ‘hate speech,’ go fuck yourself. How’s that for hate? You’re a liar. A liar and increasingly a fanatic. I do have 20K followers and were you to look you’d find racial and gender minorities overrepresented as a percentage of the larger world. They’re judgment matters.

    I’ve always wanted to do this to a professional writer – “their”

    Sorry for the interruption, carry on.

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  59. Andy says:

    I like the idea of a national primary in theory, and with some conditions, but it also has some problems.

    – Any national primary should be in the summer to allow plenty of time for primary campaigning and also to spare the country from a 9-month Presidential campaign.
    – Primaries should be open (not restricted to registered partisans), but each individual should only be allowed to vote in one primary or the other, not both (or the third party primary, see below)
    – With the modern news cycle and our media, any primary is nationalized. Yes Iowa and NH are not representative of the country and winning them should not mean as much as it does, but those primaries don’t exist in a vacuum. Every bit of political news is national in the 21st century. The issue is one of psychology, where donors and the media unjustifiably promote the winners – I’m not sure what the alternative solution is for that.
    – Because of that previous point, I’m not worried about candidates only campaigning in a few states – because the coverage would be national. And candidates will have to weigh the cost/benefit of not visiting certain states – at least as long as the EC remains in place.
    – A national primary would require more national-level events to expose the entire nation to the potential candidates, such as debates, town-halls, etc. than we have now. If I had my druthers, groups like the League of Women Voters would dictate the conditions of these events, not candidate operatives and lawyers.

    As probably the only person here at OTB who has no problem with voting third party, I think there needs to be a way to include viable third-party candidates – not as primary competition for the GoP and Dems, but as a competition between third-party candidates to which might develop a competitive option to the GoP and Dems for the November election should they nominate turds. Who knows, we may even get lucky and see a third party replace either the GoP or Dems.

    But, in honesty, I think it’s all a fantasy. The party elites don’t want a national primary, and the states that benefit from the present system certainly don’t want that. There is no federal authority to force it and most partisans don’t seem to care. I just don’t see any kind of movement for change – most partisans and the media are too invested in the current system.

  60. Ben Wolf says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Luckily I myself am an “ageing white female” so I can whap whiney “everyone is against me because I’m a woman” Social Justice Warriors across the beak and tell them to quit complaining and start achieving instead.

    Imagine that. An older white woman who gets to “whap” minorities when she doesn’t like what they’re saying. It’s yet more confirmation that most Democrats over the age of forty were too brain-damaged by Ronald Reagan to be redeemed.

  61. SC_Birdflyte says:

    My ideal solution: six regional primaries (NE, SE, Great Lakes, Plains, SW, Pacific Coast), spaced three weeks apart, starting first Tuesday in March, ending 15 weeks later. That would avoid the endless misery of focusing on the first four states ad nauseam.

  62. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Andy:
    I had it coming. It’s like a bell went off in my head an hour later. . . too late. Then I thought, I should add a correction comment. But then I thought, nah, just take your beating, Michael.

  63. Andy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Next time just do what I do and blame autocorrect. Sometimes people will actually believe you!

  64. Teve says:

    Canada’s tech industry is booming thanks to Trump.

    #WINNING

    @Andy: whereas just a year ago I was using my laptop 90% of the time, 90% of the time these days I’m talking into my phone and autocorrect is simply brilliant, even figuring out proper nouns. There are some weird idiosyncrasies though, like the fact that every time I say were it autocorrects to we’re. C’est la vie.

  65. Mister Bluster says:

    @SC_Birdflyte:..(NE, SE, Great Lakes, Plains, SW, Pacific Coast)

    Now that all 50 states have agreed to this geographical alignment, who’s up first? NE? Pacific Coast?
    If the eastern states vote first and Pacific Coast votes 15 weeks later the nominations for R and D presidential candidates could already be decided and the California primary would be irrelevant.
    Didn’t California just move up the date of it’s primary to mitigate this situation?
    Maybe start the primaries in the Plains District so Iowa can be one of the first and then do NE so New Hampshire can claim second something.
    By the way are New York and Pennsylvania in the NE region or Great Lakes as they border Lakes Ontario and Erie?

  66. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Mister Bluster: You offer some valid questions, and I have no hard-and-fast answers. I would further recommend that all positions be determined by drawing, with perhaps the proviso that the Northeast and Pacific Coast only participate in the drawing from round 3 onwards. I considered New York and Pennsylvania part of the Northeast, although a good argument could be made that they could be in the Great Lakes region.

  67. Tyrell says:

    @Gustopher: There have been some new ideas of election reform. One is to do away with the Electoral College (I applied but did not get accepted). The primaries have been changed.
    There are some other ideas in the works. These new ideas sound very promising and people will be very excited about them. These could really revolutionize our voting process.
    One is “rock, paper, sizzors”. Another is a round robin corn holes tournament.
    This should increase turnout.
    The Democrats have so many running that their leadership has asked the NCAA to come up with a “brackets” type of format, using the their new “NET” formula. That should prove to be interesting.
    Go Heels!
    What in the world happened to UCLA?

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  68. GabbaGabba says:

    This thread kind of sums up OTB. A bunch of blather that misses the only real point: a national or even a regional primary would only empower the very people you were all pissed off with before everything became about Trump. Meanwhile, everybody ignores the increasing signs of dementia from Old Man Reynolds and waits for those brief moments of clarity whwn he’s not playing with himself.

    A national or even a regional primary would mean that unless you started with enough money to compete in California or its equivalent on day one, you can’t even pretend to run. Unless you’re a celebrity freak show like Trump and can draw eyeballs by the score. So not only would it NOT solve the problem chapping your ass, it would actually empower the entrenched interests that summoned President Trump into existence in the first place.

    Understand the problem is not people who disagree with you and the solution is not rigging the system to take power away from them. It’s not being able to understand or accept why they disagree with you. There’s never been an election in modern American history where the losers worked harder at spitting in the face of the winners than 2016.

    Or to put it more bluntly, stop thinking the problem is that the other guys are just assholes. As the saying goes, if you meet one asshole during the day, he’s just an asshole. If everybody you run into is an asshole._.

  69. MarkedMan says:

    @GabbaGabba:

    If everybody you run into is an asshole._.

    … you are at the Republican Convention.

  70. James Joyner says:

    @GabbaGabba:

    A national or even a regional primary would mean that unless you started with enough money to compete in California or its equivalent on day one, you can’t even pretend to run.

    With the possible exception of Jimmy Carter in 1976, every major party nominee in the modern era has been an early frontrunner. Nobody is coming into these things as an unknown and slowly building momentum. Furthermore, my system would actually give people more time to make their case to the voters. We wouldn’t start eliminating people in January or February with unrepresentative events. And the current Super Tuesday lineup means you have to be ready to compete in California and another 10ish states by early March. I’m giving them another two months to raise money.

    Understand the problem is not people who disagree with you and the solution is not rigging the system to take power away from them.

    This has nothing whatsoever to do with my argument. While Iowa is rural and voted for Trump in 2016, it went for Obama twice, voted W over Kerry, and for Gore, Clinton twice, and Dukakis(!). New Hampshire went for Clinton in 2016 and Obama the two cycles before that. Previously, it alternated red and blue.

    None of this is about preventing future Trumps—I think he would have won the 2016 Republican nomination in my system, too—or taking power away from rural or small state voters. It’s about the weirdness of a system that forces candidates to spend a year courting voters in two tiny states before starting an increasingly front-loaded gauntlet.

  71. @GabbaGabba:

    There’s never been an election in modern American history where the losers worked harder at spitting in the face of the winners than 2016.

    It is worth pointing out that in the original post, James noted calling for a national primary in 2007 (there is even a link). This would indicate that this post is not about 2016, but about broader concerns.

  72. wr says:

    @GabbaGabba: “If everybody you run into is an asshole._.”

    Then Bungles has cooked up a whole bunch of new screen names.

  73. An Interested Party says:

    Meanwhile, everybody ignores the increasing signs of dementia from Old Man Reynolds and waits for those brief moments of clarity whwn he’s not playing with himself.

    As opposed to the president we have now, the most senile man ever to sit in the Oval Office since Ronald Reagan…

    …rigging the system to take power away from them.

    Oh, like how California has the same representation in the Senate as North Dakota…

    There’s never been an election in modern American history where the losers worked harder at spitting in the face of the winners than 2016.

    There’s also never been an election in modern American history where the winners worked harder at playing aggrieved victims…of course that would have to be Republicans…they play victims better than anybody else…

    Why does GabbaGabba look like one of the trolls who have previously been banned from this site…

  74. Michael Reynolds says:

    @GabbaGabba:

    As the saying goes, if you meet one asshole during the day, he’s just an asshole. If everybody you run into is an asshole._.

    Said the people at Dachau. The people at the KKK meeting. The people at Kim Jong Un’s backyard barbecue.

    Oh, look: your platitude got all blowed up. Let’s do another.

    It’s not being able to understand or accept why they disagree with you.

    Actually, (Drew or Ben? Hmm. Eh, I’ll figure it out) I don’t think any of us has a problem understanding why ‘they’ disagree with us. That’s the problem: we know perfectly well why they disagree, and we disagree right back. And then politics happens. Now, do ‘they’ understand why we disagree with them? Or do they, let’s say, believe that Hillary Clinton is running a sex slave ring out of a pizza parlor? Or that Obama was a Kenyan. Or . . . whatever batshit Q-Anon believes this week? Or that Jews are trying to replace all the white people with brown people?

    So your diagnosis is that our problem is that we don’t sufficiently understand the motives of people who live in a paranoid fantasy? Is that it? Oookay.

  75. Michael Reynolds says:

    @An Interested Party:
    My money is on Drew (Guarneri) or Ben Wolf.

  76. An Interested Party says:

    My money is on Drew (Guarneri) or Ben Wolf.

    Really? It has Bunge’s fingerprints all over it…

  77. Michael Reynolds says:

    @An Interested Party:
    We could start a pool. Name the troll alias.

  78. Kylopod says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I second that it’s probably Bunge. First of all, Bunge has already been caught posting under new names after he was banned. Drew and Ben Wolf, to my knowledge, have not. (Neither was banned in the first place, of course, but they haven’t gone around constantly changing their screen handles AFAIK.) Second, the post has distinctly Bungian themes: the formulaic acknowledgment that Trump is a “celebrity freak show,” the attempt to dress up Trump apologia by claiming to focus on how his critics allegedly lost their sh!t over his victory, the defenses of the current system by suggesting it better represents “real America” (in fairness, this theme isn’t unique to Bunge, but it’s something he did spend a lot of time arguing), the condescending screeds about “why Trump won” and why his critics don’t get it, the personal attacks on Michael Reynolds, the hit-and-run nature of his posts. It all adds up.

  79. James Joyner says:

    @An Interested Party: @Michael Reynolds: I’ve definitely seen an influx of “new” commenters the last few days who clearly have existing axes to grind. Sometimes, it’s very easy to tell that they’re previously-banned trolls and I just spam them. Other times, I can’t figure out who they are.

  80. Moosebreath says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    My money’s on Bunge as well. The reference in the screen name is too contemporary for someone of Drew or Ben Wolf, but fits with my mental picture of Bunge.

  81. Matt says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Well I’m calling Bunge too then.

  82. It does fit the MB profile: angry, multi-paragraph, a direct slam on the site on an author, and a vague theory of US politics that purports to explain the current moment, and Trump specifically, without actually doing so. The attack on MR is bonus evidence.