Looking Ahead to Super Tuesday

Bill Stoklosa

The primary season is well underway with Super Tuesday close at hand. Though the races have been very interesting I do have several problems with how things have played out.

1. Why should New Hampshire and Iowa get to go first?

No offense to anyone who is from either the Hawkeye State or the Granite State, but it just doesn’t seem fair that you are so much more important in the primary process than the rest of us. Iowa and New Hampshire are two small, mostly white, fairly rural states that certainly do not represent the nation as a whole. I know it is tradition, but having the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire Primary as the first steps in the nominating process makes very little sense. It would make more sense to have larger states, which provide a bigger sample size, go early. For instance instead of Iowa and New Hampshire going first, you could have Texas and New York. Larger states already get the short end of the stick in the Senate where big states like California get the same representation as small states like Alaska; why should they get shafted in the primaries as well? Even better than having some big states go first would be to have all 50 states go simultaneously, like in the general election. This would end the trend of states trying to move up their primaries and put everyone on an equal playing field, the way it should be.

2. Hillary, stop trying to seat your delegates from Michigan and Florida!

In an effort to have a bigger role in the nominating process, Michigan and Florida moved up their primaries against the rules of the Democratic National Committee (The DNC). The DNC punished them by revoking their delegates. All the Democratic candidates also agreed not to campaign in those states. John Edwards and Barack Obama didn’t even have their names on the ballot in Michigan so Hillary coasted to an easy victory over the candidate we all love to laugh at, Dennis Kucinich. Now in the wake of a tight race, Senator Clinton wants her delegates from Michigan and Florida to take part in the national convention. In Florida, the Rasmussen poll has her a full 25 points ahead of Obama. Clinton says she wants the delegates counted because the party will need the support of Democrats in Michigan and Florida come November. Nice try, but you’re not fooling anyone. The reality is, it’s a tight race and Clinton feels she needs the votes. She’s trying to change the rules in the middle of the game, and that is simply not acceptable.

3. Find a better debate format.

I have watched numerous debates during this primary season and the lead up to it, and though they have been for the most part enjoyable, they’ve also struck me as very unfair. Early on there were really too many candidates on both sides to give anyone enough time to speak; the result was little thirty second sound bites rather than thoughtful and comprehensive answers to questions. Also the debates tended to give the lead candidates more questions. Also, the frontrunners benefit from a rule that you can respond if you are mentioned by name by another candidate, and it’s the frontrunners that are mentioned the most. For most of the debates, the status of frontrunner was based on poll data, before a single vote was cast. The second tier candidates already face an uphill battle for money and media attention; they shouldn’t be handicapped in debates as well. Plus it was really fun to hear the bombastic ramblings of Mike Gravel or see former actor Fred Dalton Thompson try to bill himself as the reincarnation of Ronald Reagan. Poor Ron Paul didn’t even get invited to a FOX News Republican debate in New Hampshire, even though his poll numbers in New Hampshire were almost identical to those of Rudy Giuliani, who was invited. As the candidate list has dwindled the debates have generally improved with the candidates able to go into greater depth in their answers. Though, John Edwards seemed relegated to the sidelines a bit in the Nevada and South Carolina debates. It would seem like a good idea to have smaller debates earlier on, perhaps dividing the field into groups of three or so and mandating equal time so that every candidate can be fairly and adequately judged by the public.

4. Hey, Media! Stop Prognosticating.

One of the most obnoxious things about this primary season has been the media’s constant need to predict what will happen in the race, before it does. It wouldn’t be so annoying if they weren’t wrong all the time. Months before the first votes were cast it was widely reported that Hillary Clinton was the almost inevitable Democratic nominee. With wins by Obama in Iowa and South Carolina, that isn’t looking like the case. Awhile ago, John McCain was supposedly dead in the water, now his campaign is running very strong. Mike Huckabee wasn’t really considered a serious contender at the start, and now he’s right up there with Mitt Romney and John McCain. There was a time when Rudy Giuliani was the favorite to win the Republican nomination, now his wait-until-Florida strategy is looking like a total disaster. Worst of all were predictions of a blowout victory by Barack Obama in New Hampshire, which was totally off. Predicting winners and frontrunners before votes are cast just doesn’t make sense and it hasn’t been anywhere near accurate, but it has probably helped steer support and money in different directions. In New Hampshire inaccurate predictions may have even effected whether Independents voted in the Democratic or the Republican primary. It would be good if the media just stopped making predictions and just let the voters vote on primary day.