John Tillinghast recently wrote me with a clever idea to fix the US primary election system. Since it’s very much in the spirit of this blog, I’ll present it for your comments. The text is a mix of what he sent me and some broader framing of the problem.
The problem: US presidential primary elections (and caucuses – let’s ignore the difference for now) are held first in Iowa and New Hampshire every year. The ostensible reason for this is to choose two small states that will give the politicians a chance to meet many voters face-to-face and not just saturate major media markets with ads. While the record of these states at choosing the eventual nominees of the parties is mixed, it is certainly true that many candidates drop out at this stage of the race. The problem is that these two small, highly non-representative states thus have quite disproportionate power over a national process. So the challenge is to find a way to preserve the need for politicians to succeed at convincing voters face-to-face to choose them, while removing the disproportionate role of these two states.