Yeah, Iowa screwed up. You can check out Iowa: Not What You May Be Expecting for more on that.
But don’t learn the wrong lesson from it.
A lot of political media folks seem to have decided that what they want to come out of Iowa’s historically screwed up caucuses this year is that next time Iowa shouldn’t go first.
But they’re very wrong to start listing other states that they think should take that position.
I mean, yeah: unless something were done it’d be New Hampshire which is a) even smaller, b) even whiter and c) even older than Iowa.
So, ya know, that’d be even less useful to have go first.
But there is an alternative that would be way better, and which no one I’ve seen is mentioning:
No one should go first.
There’s literally no good reason that all the primaries (and caucuses, for as long as that keeps happening) shouldn’t all be on the same day.
And there are lots of reasons why they should be:
- no fighting over who gets to be first
- no navel-gazing about what the results meant in the early states
- no potentially-viable candidates knocked out by poor early results
- potentially a much shorter campaining season
and most importantly:
- it’d be the most fair solution
Having the primaries (I’m not gonna mention caucuses again) all spread out was beneficial back when we didn’t have the technology to manage a national event happening all across the country at the same time.
It was a convenience, largely because travel and communications technologies were so much slower, and like other conveniences that’ve been outmoded by technology (Hi, Electoral College!) it’s time to consign this one to the dustbin of history.
There are several ways to do this.
The strongest would be a Constitutional amendment specifying federal primary and general election dates, preferably no more than 3 months apart (maybe 6 months; California takes a long time to report results). A federal law could probably do it too, though that might run afoul of the presumption that electoral details belong to the states.
An Interstate Compact could do it too, with the states agreeing to specific dates.
We could probably force the issue by ourselves from Calfornia too, by either amending our Constitution or passing a law to require that California have its primaries on the same day as the first state to hold a primary (or caucus; damn, had to mention that again).
This would definitely start a game of chicken with New Hampshire, which apparently even has a law specifying that they have to be at least a day before any other state.
I doubt they’d like it much; it’s no fun losing a position of unearned privilege.
But, they’ll get over it.