What are your thoughts on the current system of U.S. primaries/caucuses to determine Presidential candidates?
With the recent announcement that the FL Presidential Primary has been shifted to January 31st, we are going to see other "first in the nation" primary states leapfrogging over one another to get their coveted spots in line. Some reports have even suggested that the first primary may instead be moved into *this* year (2011!)
Since these early primaries/caucuses tend to serve as "elimination" rounds for many candidates those voting in later primaries/caucuses have a narrower field to choose from.
The other question evolves around the process itself. Currently we have a hodgepodge of methods and regulations governing each state's choice of candidates... from those running more "traditional" votes (similar to those of their state's general elections) to caucus forums. Some allow those registered as one party to vote in the other's primary; some have strict "show ID or no vote" while others allow voters no matter where they live or no identification required.
Should there be one standard across the nation?
The current primary system is frustrating to me. Granted, this is likely because more often than not the choice of candidates is decided (or considerably narrowed) by the time my state has the opportunity to vote. My personal preference would be to have two national primary dates. The first could be perhaps in February allowing ALL states to vote at the same time as they do for the general elections in November. Then have the top 3 continue on (unless ONE candidate wins more than 51% of the vote at which point a run off should not be necessary) and have the second primary in May determining the final candidate.
While this season, it is more focused on the Republican primaries, my frustration is the same no matter which party is the incumbent. I'd like to see all states have an equal opportunity to determine their preferred party candidate vs. feeling as if their vote doesn't count.
The problem however with my idea is that it likely would prohibit all but those with the deepest pockets to run effective campaigns as the candidates would focus more on the more populous states with visits/town halls, etc. and rely more on advertising campaigns in other states they can't physically get to. Then there is that "little" issue of costs associated for the states in running an additional election date. Still, many states have their local election primaries in May/June for other offices so perhaps it could be scheduled and added to those?