Friday, September 07, 2007As promised, here's a review of the major criticisms that have been made against our system for nominating Presidential candidates:
1) It's unrepresentative. New Hampshire and Iowa don't have any cities or minorities, so the candidates who are nominated pay little attention to those issues.
2) Frontloading biases things towards establishment candidates. The movement of big primaries closer and closer tends to give candidates with lots of money and endorsements an unfair advantage, excluding "outsider candidates."
3) The nominations are wrapped up too early. Why wants an 8-month general election campaign? Plus, we should spend more time talking about issues within the party and vetting each of the candidates more thoroughly. We shouldn't rush into picking a nominee.
4) The media has usurped too much more in the "winnowing" process. By establishing first and second tiers and setting expectations, the press corps can make it difficult for candidates to raise money or win votes by giving them a "loser" image. Plus the media is obsessed with stupid stories rather than policy.
5) The system has gotten so expensive that the importance of wealthy donors has been magnified.
6) Too few people in too many states have next to no influence over the process. The nominations are always wrapped up before most people get the chance to vote.
7) Party activists and the party leadership has too little influence over who the nominee is. Too much power has flowed to other groups (see above). Parties have the right to choose their own candidates.
If I can think of any others I'll add them later, but those are the main critiques. It's a pretty persuasive attack, although it can be segmented into a couple of rival arguments: that Iowa and New Hampshire have too much influence, that frontloading is bad, and that the primary system overall is a flawed model.
Next up: what we should want from a nomination system.