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Iowa caucuses, NH primary: should they be the first 2?(9 posts)

Iowa caucuses, NH primary: should they be the first 2?dr hoo
Jan 19, 2004 8:38 AM
What do you think of the caucus system? Should two states that are very different from the rest of the nation always be first?

I think the caucuses measure organization, and the NH primaries measure effect of message.

In Iowa, turn out for a couple hours to show your support for a candidate in PUBLIC, in front of your friends and neighbors, shows a level of commitment lacking in primaries. It also shows which organization can get people to commit time and effort. They also give people a chance to support a "second" preference, if their original person is not viable with 15%.

NH is such a small state that each candidate can almost literally go door to door. Message unfiltered by media. That gives even candidates who start with little money or name recognition a small, but real chance to gain traction.

So, I think these two states do a pretty good job of sorting people at the START of the process. What are your thoughts?
No opinion on Iowa, mixed feelings about NH . . .ms
Jan 19, 2004 9:36 AM
I have no real opinion on Iowa. The caucuses seem kind of strange to me. But, I have no knowledge of them other than what I read in the papers.

I do have an opinion, and mixed feelings about New Hampshire. In 1999 and 2000, I went to New Hampshire several times to campaign for Bill Bradley (a close, college friend was one of Bradley's chief advisors and I went as a personal favor to him). Among my visits, was my spending the five days prior to the primary and primary day in the state.

I think that New Hampshire performs a valuable function in that it is the only place (other than, perhaps Iowa) where the voters can meet and see the candidates live, rather than in staged television events or in commercials. The presidential primary very much has the feel of a "local election." George W. Bush tried to play by his playbook (not a lot of substance, lots of controlled photo ops) and lost the New Hampshire primary. Many of the flaws of the Bush presidency (I'm talking about how the administration is run, not the actual policy positions) were presaged by how W. campaigned in New Hampshire. You can't hide much from the voters in New Hampshire.

The negative side of New Hampshire is that the state is small and not very representative of the United States. From what I can tell, Iowa is more of the same. In my mind the overriding demographic profile of New Hampshire is that of a white, WalMart shopper. At least insofar as the Democratic party is concerned, I think that the party's nomination should be decided by a more diverse and representative cross-section of the population.

My final analysis with respect to New Hampshire: it is far from perfect, but the positive way things work in New Hampshire (i.e., the personal interaction allows the people to ferret out bullsh@t) outweighs the negative non-representative nature of the electorate.

BTW: I met W. early on the morning of primary day at a staged event outside a polling place. There were was a bus of Bush supporters and a bus of the national press outside of the polling place. When W. came out the supporters cheered and the cameras rolled as W. passed through. Four of us with Bradley signs were at the end of the line. I have to give W. his due. He could have avoided us and scurried to his waiting bus -- he had no idea whether we would be polite (which we ultimately were) or would heckle him. Instead, he came over, turned on the charm and wished us well. Notwithstanding my party and policy differences, I really liked the guy. Based on that encounter, I can see why people say that W. is very effective one-on-one.
re: Iowa caucuses, NH primary: should they be the first 2?TJeanloz
Jan 19, 2004 9:48 AM
I think the current system has quite a few benefits and not many drawbacks. The small size (geographic and population) of New Hampshire allows all candidates about the same opportunity to meet and greet voters. I know a number of people who won't vote for anybody they haven't personally met, and voters can viably accomplish this in NH. The only other state where this could be possible is Vermont, but New Hampshire is much less homogeneous than its neighbor.

Another reason New Hampshire works is that the voters care about what they're doing. Voters listen to the candidates, work things out, and really put some effort into the elections. We see it as our patriotic duty to select a candidate for the rest of the Country - not just for ourselves. NH has embraced the importance of its position, and that importance weighs on voters when they go to the polls. On the whole, I think voters in NH are much better informed than most, and I think it works for the better in the long run.
Agree . . .ms
Jan 19, 2004 11:18 AM
When I was canvassing in NH in 2000, I could not believe the number of people who said that they were undecided because they had not met all of the candidates, or could not vote for a candidate because they had not met him.

I was pleasantly surprised by how seriously most people in NH took the primary. When I was going door to door or working on telephone banks, most people were friendly, knowledgeable, engaging and interested in what I had to say.
One critique is that NH and IA voters are TOO involved.dr hoo
Jan 19, 2004 11:34 AM
Seriously. I have heard this raised.

At one level it makes sense. If the voters start to talk about appeal to demographic groups, potential breakdowns of electoral college strategies and the like, one could make the argument that they are acting too much like talking heads on tv and not enough like the "average" voter.

But still, I have a hard time taking any criticism of the process seriously that uses the phrase "they are too involved and knowledgable about the process.

Iowa: highest literacy rate and lowest divorce rate in the nation. They must be doing something right.
Because there is nothing to do but read in IowaColnagoFE
Jan 19, 2004 2:11 PM
and no hot women/men to tempt you into leaving your spouse. ;) JUST KIDDING IOWANS!!!!
I have a standard response to this question.Turtleherder
Jan 20, 2004 8:28 AM
When I talk with people from out of state, especially the east coast, they always ask "what in the world is there to do in Iowa?" I just tell them "we f**k alot." That either shuts them up or makes them laugh their heads off.
good oneColnagoFE
Jan 20, 2004 8:37 AM
I only invoke the right to make fun of Iowa because I grew up there. Nice place in a lot of respects. Lot more there than most people think.
It's cause they shipped most of the riff-raff off to California.Spoke Wrench
Jan 20, 2004 7:29 AM
Raised the average IQ in both states.