It seems fair to ask if our presidential primary and caucus system should be changed, given the way it is presently being utilized.

For instance, the Republican primary calendar began with the Iowa caucuses. It then moved to New Hampshire’s primary. Both are small states as far as population is concerned. And neither are winner-take-all states. That means delegates were awarded proportionally.

Iowa has 28 delegates, New Hampshire has 12, and it takes 1,144 delegates to secure the Republican nomination. Collectively, Iowa’s and New Hampshire’s delegates make up a mere 3.5 % of the total. And in Iowa the delegates are not even committed.

Therefore, one could say neither state is very important in regards to winning the nomination – except for one thing – they came first. And being first psychologically seems to set the tone for what comes later. At least that is the way the political pundits see it.

But why should the same two states always be first? Why should Iowa be the first caucus state? And why should New Hampshire always be the first presidential primary state? Is that fair? Some say no.

In fact, some states have attempted to hold their caucus or primary ahead of Iowa and New Hampshire, but have always been denied by the national controlling parties. But, why – does Iowa and New Hampshire have special rights? Or, is that just the way it has been for so long that it is assumed they have special rights?

Actually, as one article put it, it began in Iowa somewhat as a fluke. However, then the state legislature mandated Iowa hold its caucuses at least eight days prior to any other state’s primary or caucus.

New Hampshire’s legislature did the same thing. In the 1970s they decreed their primary be the first held in the nation. So, that is how it all began.

Since then, it seems the other states have just always gone along with Iowa and New Hampshire. Or have they?

No, they have not always. As stated above, from time to time some state will attempt to be first, or at least move up its caucus or primary date to be closer to Iowa and New Hampshire. But such action has usually been met with pushback from the national party.

For example, Florida moved its Republican primary forward this year and was penalized 48 of its 99 delegates. That was a big price to pay but I guess Florida Republicans thought it was worthwhile.

Apparently, the Florida Republican Party believed it had the right to set its own primary date, and did not have to hold to some arbitrary date set by the national body. And one can certainly see their point. After all, even after being penalized 50%, Florida had more delegates than Iowa and New Hampshire combined.

But, Florida is not the only state that has thought it unfair that Iowa and New Hampshire are always first. And that being the case, I believe it is reasonable to assume the system will soon change to one more equitable.

So, if the present system is eventually set aside, what should the new one look like? Should the first states to caucus or hold its primary be rotated, or should all states hold their caucuses and primary on the same date?

It seems to me the latter makes more sense. Just think about it, the candidates would have the option of campaigning wherever they chose, spending as much or little time as they felt necessary in any given state.

And when that magic date rolled around, it would all come to an end. That evening we would know who had won and who lost.

If all states agreed to hold their caucus or primary on the same date, campaign costs would be lower, and it would be easier on both candidates and voters. And no longer could any state use timing to gain advantage over another state.

But maybe for the very reason that it would be fairer and cost less would be grounds for not implementing it. After all, can you imagine any politician being interested in anything fair or less costly?

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