Reform the presidential primary system

Note: I wrote this eight years ago, and it is still relevant today.

This week’s “instant message” question to Herald-Times readers is whether Indiana needs change the date of the primary election. This would give Hoosiers more of a voice in the nominating process, but ultimately is just another way to make the overall process more confusing and cumbersome. We are already having problems as states move primaries around to get more of a voice in picking the Republican and Democrat nominees for President.

What really needs to happen is a complete reform of the presidential nominating process. I believe there should be 6 primaries over 11 weeks, with the ten smallest states voting first, moving up until the largest states vote last. There would be two weeks between each “Super Tuesday”. (While we’re reforming the nomination process, we might as well change the day to Saturday, which would make it easier for many people to vote.) Basically, the primaries would be organized as follows, based on the population numbers as reported by Wikipedia:

  • Week 1: Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, Alaska, South Dakota, Delaware, Montana, Rhode Island, Hawaii and New Hampshire
  • Week 3: Maine, Idaho, Nebraska, West Virginia, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Kansas, Arkansas and Mississippi
  • Week 5: Iowa, Connecticut, Oklahoma, Oregon, Kentucky, Louisiana, South Carolina, Alabama, Colorado and Minnesota
  • Week 7: Wisconsin, Maryland, Missouri, Tennessee, Arizona, Indiana, Massachusetts, Washington, Virginia and New Jersey
  • Week 9: North Carolina, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania
  • Week 11: Illinois, Florida, New York, Texas and California

One concern many people have about a national primary day is that it would give a heavy advantage to the candidate with the most money. Furthermore, the smallest states would likely be ignored as candidates make their push in the states with the most votes (and therefore the most delegates.) By spreading the nomination process out over 11 weeks and saving the most populated states until the end, voters would have the opportunity to compare the candidates over a longer period of time. The largest states would still ultimately decide the nomination.