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Blind Primaries

Presidential primaries strung out, but results witheld
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So two of the major conflicting forces in when to schedule presidential primaries are these:

1) If you string out the primaries, then the media goes crazy about whatever the states early on decide, and that biases later states' results, such that they don't get the same fair input.

2) If you smash all the primaries together, candidates don't have enough time to campaign in each state, and everything becomes faceless TV ads, put on most successfully by the richest candidates.

Solution? Spread out primaries all the way from February to July or so, in such a way as to maximize naturalistic, locally relevant, personalized campaigning by candidates in as many places as possible. BUT do not, under any circumstances, release the results of any state's primary to the public knowledge until after all states have participated, so there isn't any bandwagon mentality.

Smurfsahoy, Jan 09 2008

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       I thinks idea has a lot of merit.   

       // everything becomes faceless TV ads, put on most successfully by the richest candidates //   

       Why not just regular political advertising - in terms of the time and money alloted to a particular candidate.
Brett-Blob, Jan 09 2008
  

       Sorry, dude. I don't want another law that restricts the flow of information, but I do appreciate the sentiment.
CoolSolutions, Jan 09 2008
  

       The results would just leak through the blogosphere anyway. Unless the gov't became 100% fascist and was able to assemble the mobile "silencing" units overnight. [-]   

       edit: Tell me how you'd make it work and I'll unbone.
Spacecoyote, Jan 09 2008
  

       @ spacecoyote:   

       Two replies 1) There wouldn't BE any known results to "leak," outside of official sealed records that only a few people in the country need to have seen. If the media is banned from reporting exit polls, then the only way you're going to get results known is if random private individuals who don't mind being prosecuted run around and take informal polls themselves. But whatever they come up with (if anything - how many people would tell a random crazy guy on the street who he voted for?) would be horribly inaccurate anyway.   

       2) Even if there was some sort of reasonably accurate count out there for one or two states, if the mainstream media is not broadcasting it, most people won't hear about it anyway. Only the people who happen to read the blogs in question (all three of the blogs that also don't mind prosecution) would hear about it, and their friends.   

       2nd and 3rd hand information about an informal, private polls with no accuracy guarantees, heard only by people who are probably already pretty educated anyway (and thus would not likely be the ones to be bandwagoning in primaries in the first place) is not much of a threat to this plan.
Smurfsahoy, Jan 09 2008
  

       If you're willing to challenge the first amendment (as you seem to be), and you want to discourage //faceless TV ads, put on most successfully by the richest candidates//, wouldn't it be better and easier to put restrictions on party-political TV advertising (such as exist in other democracies), instead of prosecuting bloggers and trying to suppress opinion polls?
pertinax, Jan 09 2008
  

       @ pertinax:   

       No, because if all of the primaries are on the same day, such that candidates are unable to campaign in person, AND there are big restrictions on TV advertising, then how exactly is the majority of America going to learn anything important about candidates in time to inform their vote? Without any info, votes just become based on BS things like good looks, gut feelings, etc.   

       As for the first amendment, yes it may be conflicting with this idea, but if infringing on the first amendment exclusively regarding exit polls allows us to have well-informed, personally relevant, and equal opportunity voting information, then all of our other freedoms will benefit as a result, and I think that it is well worth it.
Smurfsahoy, Jan 09 2008
  

       Ah, so it's not education for the sightless then? Or is it?
marklar, Jan 09 2008
  

       //such that candidates are unable to campaign in person, ...., then how exactly is the majority of America going to learn anything important about candidates in time to inform their vote//   

       what's so important about being able to campaign in person?   

       it is each our responsibility to seek out the information we need to make intelligent choices. disinterest is one thing, but to say that you won't learn anything if the candidate doesn't come and talk to you personally is just plain laziness.   

       there's the news feeds, candidates have websites, they state their platforms, have a board for discussion should there be specific questions, they also join debates, and submit their CVs for review, make use of these opportunities to learn more about the people you're electing to office.   

       i don't believe a couple of hours with someone, will give you enough insight into his/her suitability to become president.
pyggy potamus, Jan 09 2008
  

       The purpose - at least, the beneficial result - of the current system is that each party's supporters are able to see how the opposition's supporters understand the issues, and can position whichever of their candidates they feel most likely to win the presidential election on that basis. By the time you get to Ohio, the important electoral issues may well have changed from what they were at the time of Iowa and New Hampshire, but you want to prevent voters from reacting to the opposition's strategy; why? I don't see how "infringing on the first amendment exclusively regarding exit polls allows [you] to have well-informed ... voting information". An Iowa voter may well have changed his mind come Super Tuesday and wish he'd voted some other way, but that's also the case in UK elections; "If I'd known that my preferred candidate would come a poor third, I'd have voted for my second choice, who almost won." That's not necessarily a 'bandwagon mentality', it's just doing what you can to ensure that your party of choice gets elected.
angel, Jan 09 2008
  

       primaries are somehow stupid, but understandable in first-pass-the-post-systems.   

       i'd rather like to see schulze-concordet or something similar.
erlehmann, Jan 09 2008
  

       //what's so important about being able to campaign in person?//   

       It's not actually seeing them in person that I'm talking about, really. It's just the fact that they visit and specifically campaign in your state, which is much more than just of token importance. When they campaign in your neck of the woods, the likelihood that they will make promises relevant to your lifestyle, or at least the likelihood that they will clarify their position on things relevant to your lifestyle, shoots way up, and thus, you have more political power if and when they win.   

       That's one important point. The other point is just that you are giving the average American way wayyyy too much credit in your annotation. Without TV advertising or local campaigning, very very few people would bother to know anything about candidates other than random scandals, etc. that happen to show up on the news, if they even watch that ever.   

       //It seems to work for real democracies, so why not the Excited States?//   

       What other democracy has 300 million people? Our population is the size of basically all the most powerful, western European industrialized nations combined. There's a lot more ground to cover, and a lot more deeply divided/unique regions of the country.   

       //That's not necessarily a 'bandwagon mentality', it's just doing what you can to ensure that your party of choice gets elected.//   

       As a quick example, Harry Truman and Lyndon B Johnson both withdrew from presidential campaigns after losing NEW HAMPSHIRE primaries. 95%+ of the nation not having said anything yet, and they gave up after losing in a state that is not even at all representative of national demographics, because they knew full well just how band-wagony it is. That's just wrong, and something desperately needs fixing there.
Smurfsahoy, Jan 09 2008
  

       // What other democracy has 300 million people? // India has about a billion, not that I'm holding it up as a shining example of the democratic process, it's better than some though.   

       // Our population is the size of basically all the most powerful, western European industrialized nations combined // Well the top 5 anyway. Germany + France + UK + Italy + Spain = 310ish million. If you add the rest of the EU it would be around 500 million I guess.
marklar, Jan 09 2008
  

       In Truman's case, it would have been surprising (I think) if he had *not* withdrawn; NH was a smell-the-coffee moment regarding Korea, and his national support was at 22%. He withdrew as a result of that, rather than just the NH primary. Johnson was probably in a similar situation; the relatively huge support for McCarthy, and the growing support for Kennedy and Wallace made him unelectable anyway.
angel, Jan 09 2008
  

       This may be a little late but, for those of us who aren't familiar with your electoral system, could you add a four-sentence summary of how it all works, [Smurfsa]?
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 09 2008
  

       I thought this idea would be a suggestion that the results of the primaries should be withheld until after the *election* itself. So you'd end up voting for the "Republican" or the "Democrat", without knowing who exactly it is. Then there would be something involving a big cardboard box on a stage.
jutta, Jan 09 2008
  

       as opposed to the big cardboard cutouts we get today?
globaltourniquet, Jan 10 2008
  

       I wish I could say it were possible to explain the process in 4 sentances...but it isn't.   

       Anyway, I think the current system is ok, except for the whole two parties thing (IMHO there shouldn't be any parties) and the exorbitant amount of money it takes to run a campaign (which could possibly be reduced if we used a faster, more high tech revision to the electoral process.)
Spacecoyote, Jan 10 2008
  

       //Anyway, I think the current system is ok, except for the whole two parties thing (IMHO there shouldn't be any parties)//

If there were no parties, you couldn't have primaries, shirley?
angel, Jan 10 2008
  

       But in the current US system, the primaries determine which of several candidates for each party will stand for his party in the presidential election against the similarly determined candidate for the other parties. If there are no parties, you just have the election without the primaries. So instead of Democrats deciding whether Clinton or Obama will face McCain, Giuliani, Thompson or Romney (and the GOP doing similarly), you just have all of the candidates in a big face-off for the POTUS job.
angel, Jan 10 2008
  

       Or you could make the electoral process simpler by only allowing registered blind people to vote. They're probably representative of the population as a whole, and it would cut down on the candidates' campaigning costs.
hippo, Jan 10 2008
  

       It's a lovely idea, really, but the problem I see is that the process becomes obscured by keeping the results secret. Is that a path we really want to start down? The only thing that keeps the voting legitimate is that the results can be given immediately for review, etc.   

       The year long primary process we're in right now IS total crap. And I don't like the idea that after 2 week of voting legitimate candidates are dropping out already; the major states haven't even printed ballots yet. But that's the candidates fault, as I see it, no one has forced them out at that point.   

       Something needs to be done. But holding primaries and then sitting on the results for months will only make the situation worse.
Noexit, Jan 10 2008
  

       The candidates themselves would want to know the results of each primary early on, to determine how they need to adjust their messages or whether or not they should continue to spend either their money or taxpayer money.   

       While 'adjusting your message to fit the crowd' may seem disengenious, the population may also use this to judge your ability to respond and adapt to developing situations.   

       The world is a messy place, and a messy primary system may in fact be good preparation.
RayfordSteele, Jan 10 2008
  

       I love this idea. It kills me that just a couple of states decide who the rest of the states get to vote for. Definitely skip the whole 1st Amendment issue, by just not counting the votes till a specific date. Orgs will still do exit polls, etc. and that can give people a vauge idea, but they won't be sure. My history knowledge is bad, but wasn't Dewey a lock by exit polls?   

       I also agree that we need other new systems such as mentioned like having one vote, but two backups, so you pick 1st, 2nd and third. If your guy doesn't do well enough, you vote goes to your number 2, etc. This would give third party candidates a chance.
MisterQED, Jan 10 2008
  

       //It kills me that just a couple of states decide who the rest of the states get to vote for.//

They don't, not really. A candidate may withdraw on the basis of the result of a primary (just as he may on the basis of an exit poll, or press coverage. or Jay Leno), but it's the candidate himself who decides.

//wasn't Dewey a lock by exit polls?//

Depends which election you mean; Dewey ran three times.
angel, Jan 10 2008
  
      
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