It’s a Crazy Way to Select a Candidate

So, you’ve read my predictions, you’ve probably been following the candidates. We’re a month away from the primary here in Tennessee, and you’re probably asking yourself, “What does it matter, Iowa and New Hampshire will decide it”. And you have a point. Iowa and New Hampshire, two of the whitest states in the union, whose electoral college total come to 1.8% of the 538 available. Why should we care what they think?

I don’t know, but for as long as I can remember it’s been this way.

America has a history of giving disproportionate power to small states. There are 29 states and DC that have fewer than 10 electoral votes. Their total Electoral College count is less than 30% of all the electoral votes out there (158). Yet without the support of at least half of these states no constitutional amendment can ever go anywhere. Don’t even get me started about Senate representation; we’ll be here all day.

In reality, amending the Constitution and Senate Representation have nothing to do with the primary calendar, but these two Constitutional idiosyncrasies may give us some clues as to why it is the way it is. It goes to our founding.

The United States, as we know it, would never have existed were it not for the disproportional representation that the Electoral College and the Senate provide. Small states, worried about the “tyranny of the majority” needed these “leveling” provisions to make sure they didn’t get swept away in a wave of irrelevancy. That value has carried over into opening Presidential contests in small states.

But why are Iowa and New Hampshire first? Why not Mississippi and Montana, or North Dakota and Louisiana, of any other iteration of the less than 10 states? On the flip side, why not the two states with the most Electoral College votes, Texas and California?

If large states had their primaries first, the contest would be largely over before it even began. Lesser-known candidates would have NO chance of even showing there, and it would make for a really short primary season (perhaps the only real benefit, from my perspective).

So, large states are out, but what about those 27 other smaller states? That’s been my question since 1992.

I think there should be a lottery to decide the first two contests…one East of the Mississippi and one west of the Mississippi. That way, states like Alaska and Montana, and North Dakota, where the weather REALLY sucks ass, can have a say in selecting the candidates.

Of course there are dangers, a Mississippi/Arkansas first two would be some boring assed stuff. Who cares what those hicks think anyway?


There are lots of solutions out there that will never happen, from national primaries (bad idea), regional primaries (slightly better), or a lottery system (good). None of these will happen until the primary calendar is federalized, and that ain’t gonna happen for the same reason that regional Senators will never happen, the Electoral College will never go away, and I won’t get a grant for .1% of the Defense budget to keep from having to work any more. Aside from the Representative and electoral College distributions, and the day we vote for federal government, the Feds have no control over any of this, it goes to the states, and the states (Iowa and New Hampshire) have no inclination to change.

Individual states may try to correct this, like Florida and Michigan did, and will just be head off at the pass by Iowa and New Hampshire until someone steps in and brings some sense to the selection process…and then gets voted out of office.

So, there you have it, a long post about nothing. Hope you’re happy with how you spent your time. You can get another 12 hours of this by turning on your tv to any of the all blather stations. Happy “Who Gives a Crap about Iowa” Day!

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