Wednesday, September 05, 2007


UM's historic egg-laying against App State must have really affected the Wolverine State's sense of self-importance. How else can you explain their decision yesterday to completely screw up our nominating process. (Florida moved its primary to mid-January a couple of weeks ago, but Florida has a habit of screwing up presidential elections, so this is nothing new.)

A little background - the Democratic Party has threatened any state not named "New Hampshire" that held its primary before January 29 with the withdrawal of all their delegates from the national convention. This means these states have no official sway in the Democrats' nominating process. Furthermore, Democratic candidates have stated that they won't campaign in these states; Republicans have taken no such measures.

This is such a disaster because, by moving to January 15, Michigan threatens to throw the whole process into 2007. Why? Because New Hampshire has a batty law that requires its primary to be held at least a week before any other primary, which means that the NH primary will be January 8 at the earliest. And Iowa state law requires that their caucus be a week before any other caucus or primary. A week before January 8 is January 1, which is a rather bad day to hold an election. Ditto with the next Tuesday back, December 25. So should Iowa wish to hold its caucus on a Tuesday, they would be forced to December 17. There's talk that Iowa will contravene state law and hold their caucus sometime in the first week of January, so this save us a couple of weeks or so.

Essentially, Michigan single-handedly forced our nominating process to move up a month. At the most, we are now four months away from the Iowa caucuses. God help us.

This is beginning to be one of the most interesting sub-stories of the 2008 election - whether or not the parties still have control over their nominating processes. If Democratic candidates ignore FL and MI in '08, and they have little to no effect on the nominating process, this will prove that the parties still have some control over the process, and they'll start flexing their muscles before the '12 election. That would likely lead to MI and FL moving their primaries back to join the big melee on the first Tuesday in February. If, on the other hand, a candidate can ride a strong performance in FL and MI to success later on, it pretty much forces the Democrats to campaign in early states in '12, and the delegates will be reawarded.

I'm hoping that MI and FL are forced to back down - that way, the parties can flex their collective muscles and nuke their current primary system in favor of something a little more sane. It's worth noting that parties are not legally bound to select candidates based on the primaries. This means that they could threaten to scrap the whole thing and return to smoke-filled-room horse trading unless the states get their acts together and hold their primaries in a way that doesn't extend the race horrifically. That'd be a fun pissing contest to watch.

Anyway, this whole thing reminds me of those idiots who go around on comment boards in Nerdland and try to get the first comment, usually by posting "First!" on the thread. I think South Carolina just passed a law saying "n00b" and Florida is now claiming to be a "l33t h4x0r" or something.

Florida correspondant Mike has a take on this that I find interesting, even if I'm not sure I agree with it.

Finally, sign of the times: this was in's politics section. This bugs me, and I don't know why. Maybe it's the implication that the only reason the number of military deaths (the use of the euphemism "casualty" also bugs me) in Iraq is important is political. I'm sure there are quite a few families - say, 3700 of them - that would disagree.

1 comment:

Mike said...

Going off on a tangent about states rights distracted me from my actual point, which was in fact the ridiculousness of the primary system. Presidential primaries are becoming like a pickup game of baseball, where each state is placing their hands higher and higher up the bat and clamoring for that coveted top spot. Okay, maybe that analogy doesn't work so well, but whatever. But like I said, MI and FL doing this is "myopic and self-serving".

However, I still believe the Democrats are shooting themselves in the foot over this. Adhering to party rules is going to appear to the average citizen (i.e. me) to be stubborn and elitist, especially from a party whose main selling point in this election is change. I think people in about 48 states have grown sick and tired of the perception that two quite non-representative states are choosing the party nominees (though this is of course far from the case). Personally, I would much rather the Democrats just abandon the current primary system altogether.