Is our current system of caucuses and primaries a good way to pick a nominee?

The race for the Republican presidential nomination has focused for months on Iowa, where the first-in-the-nation caucuses are still a week away. Campaigns have flourished and foundered before anyone has had a chance to cast a formal vote. Today’s Question: Is our current system of caucuses and primaries a good way to pick a nominee?

  • Mike

    The answer is yes if you like how well each parties base (fringe) dominates the candidate selection process.

  • Lou

    The benefit of the current system is that it forces candidates to come to the state holding the caucus/primary and actually meet the people in small groups and hear their concerns as opposed to simply running a large advertisement campaign and staging a few campaign events. However, the fact that so few people get involved in caucuses gives organized special interest groups a much greater amount of influence than they realistically should have so there is a tradeoff. Iowa selected Mike Huckabee and Barack Obama in 2008 so one candidate went on to get their party’s nomination and the other candidate went nowhere. Overall, the system does work fairly well.

  • reggie

    Our current campaign process is a disaster. Too much influence exerted by money, too little value placed on intelligence and experience. The Republicans may be the punchline of this year’s joke, but they merely reveal the waste of time, money, and energy we expend on campaigning, at the expense of the hard work of governing.

    A nation with the brainpower of ours ought to be able to design a system that confines campaigning to a few weeks, and ought to be able to constitutionally restrict campaign spending to public financing.

  • Gary F

    Not sure.

    One thing I’m sure of, is that is started WAY TO EARLY!

    And you wonder why the public is sick and tired of politics by the time the election actually happens.

  • Duane

    As flawed as our current caucus/primary system is, I still feel it can do an adequate job of selecting our candidates for congress and president. I have had an opportunity to attend caucuses in three different counties in Minnesota and find all three dominated by the political leaders in each county. If we were to make a change I feel I would prefer a national primary, rather than a caucus, on the same day about six months before the General election.

  • Alison

    Definitely not!

    We concentrate all of the power to narrow the field in the hands of a couple of states which are the same states every time and which aren’t very representative of the diversity we have in this country. The process is utterly inconsistent throughout the country, with some states making it difficult for many voters to participate.

    On the Democratic side in Minnesota the alleged ‘caucus’ process is utterly absurd. The Democrats get together on ‘caucus’ night and vote their preference on little strips of paper stuffed into envelopes taken to a back room and counted in private with no oversight. The vote is done as you walk in the door so there is no actual caucus on the presidential candidates. In other words, since there is no discussion by the DFLers in Minnesota it isn’t a caucus, it’s a primarly. But it’s a primary with about a 1.5 hour voting window, no provisions for absentee voting, and absolutely no tracebility or accountability. Let’s hope they fix it before they need to use it again in 4 years! (Of course MN probably won’t matter anyway due to the ridiculous national process.)

  • GregX

    The primaries are rotting on the vine. They’ve become giant marketing games. How can package limburger cheese in such a manner that it appears to be minty – answer – you can’t. So… you spend millions trying to rig the population that will show up to vote – and thus influence the outcome on the front-end. The fix? – Mandatory voting. Then … a politician is stuck making sense to folks who just aren’t the politician’s selected minion’s in the ballot box. And it would nice to take the country back from the voting nitwtis that have put in place the bone-headed, mono-party ideologists we’re stuck with now.

  • P. Nielsen

    No. I’d prefer the party leadership go back to their “cigar smoke-filled” back rooms and do their deliberations there, finally agreeing on a candidate(s) who will tow the party line/platform and not go off on their own tangents. The caucus/primary system only brings out those on the fringes who have agendas not in line with most voters on either side and as a result, the platforms are not in line with what most voters want or would choose. It’s a waste of time and money.

  • Steve the Cynic

    The process we’ve got now is actually worse than the “smoke filled rooms” of convention delegates that used to decide the nomination before the “reforms” in the 60s and 70s that let voters have more say. Consider this: Abraham Lincoln got the Republican nomination in 1860 because he was the second choice of most of the delegates, even though he was the first choice of very few. Under the current system, Lincon would have been eliminated fairly early. This process is incapable of choosing a truly great leader like Lincoln or FDR.

  • John P II

    No, but campaign financing reform is a more pressing issue. It is ridiculous that Iowa and New Hampshire consistently play such a large role; there needs to be some sort of lottery/rotation regarding primary dates.

  • Lawrence Lee

    No. I’d like to see a rotating series of regional primaries separated by a month. Regions would vote on the same night: Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, Southwest, Pacific Northwest, etc. Then each region would get the national spotlight for a period of time and candidates wouldn’t have to shuttle back and forth across the nation. The next election cycle the order would rotate and someone else could be first.

  • Mark G

    Not really. The Iowa Republican caucuses will be attended by just over 100,000 people, which is hardly representative of the state’s Republicans, much less the state as a whole. Relying on this small sample of hard-core partisans to produce one victor is asinine……Iowa might as well draw straws.