Order-Sensitivity in Presidential Primaries

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I have to agree with Sean Oxendine on this:

But the absolute top of the list is how much the outcome of the race has depended on the ordering of the contests. Imagine, for example, where things would stand if Georgia, Alabama and a few caucus states hadn't moved their dates up to Super Tuesday, but Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas had, in fact, moved up. This race would likely have been over February 3, with calls for Obama to get out reaching the same crescendo that the calls against Hillary are reaching.

Of course, the whole way we got to this position was Obama's magical "ten in a row" during February. But Maryland, DC, Virginia, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Hawai'i, Maine, Washington and Nebraska were all races that he was supposed to win -- and by large margins at that -- with the arguable exception of Wisconsin. Imagine if those races had instead been Indiana, Kentucky, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and a couple of Super Tuesday states (say, MA and TN). The storyline would be completely different.

What a way to pick a President.

This is a criticism of the whole process, not just of how the Democratic primary does things. It's even clearer for the Republican primary. If Florida had been the first GOP state, followed by New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, Giuliani might have been the nominee. If Iowa had been followed by certain key Southern states without New Hampshire in between, Huckabee would have had a real chance. If South Carolina had been first, followed by Tennessee and perhaps Georgia, we might have actually seen Fred Thompson doing well in other states. If Michigan had been before Iowa, Romney would have had enough momentum that he could possibly have done a good deal better, and if more Western states were early on he might have had enough to get the momentum necessary to take states he lost by a large margin.

This process is highly sensitive to small changes in the order of states, and that seems to me to be a very bad thing.

4 Comments

Right!! A VERY bad thing and yet there's so much more to know...and remedy;

How the Republican Party Committed National Suicide By JB Williams
http://www.michnews.com/artman/publish/article_19227.shtml

Who Hijacked the Primaries? by Brett Winterble
http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=24726

The Death of Conservatism? 43 Mistakes and the GOP's Dobson's Choice
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1961546/posts

GOP Leads Astray
http://gopleadsastray.blogspot.com/

Conservative Blackout by Lisa Fabrizio
http://www.spectator.org/dsp_article.asp?art_id=12517

Well, I certainly don't share such a narrow view of who can contribute to the Republican party or represent it in a presidential race. Anyone who excludes Lindsay Graham is extreme enough that if that line had appeared at the beginning of the article I would have stopped reading. The only candidate I would have been loath to vote for against anyone in the Democratic lineup was Ron Paul.

Also, while it's true that McCain won some important states only because of the independent vote, two other important things are true. One is that it's way too simplistic to use that as evidence that he couldn't have won this without that or that he wouldn't have won any important states without that. The other is that the independent vote is crucial for winning a general election, and the GOP will be irrelevant if there isn't some chance of earning the independent vote. So there are some good reasons to allow independent voters in primaries, even if there are good reasons not to. I can't see that issue as a moral absolute.

As for the paranoia about the GOP dying, that's not just false. It's lame. Learn some history, and take a look at how many presidents from both parties have represented a position outside the mainstream of the party. It happens quite often. Sometimes it changes the party, usually temporarily, and sometimes it doesn't. Look at the party backlash against Bush's spending and against the perceived liberalism of Harriet Miers.

The problem with Fred Thompson wasn't his not being an evangelical. It was his being too liberal on abortion. He was open to abortion in the first trimester, and pro-lifers won't tolerate that if they can help it.

I also think several of those authors way overestimate the influence of the media. Some underestimate it, particularly with McCain, but don't compensate by pretending McCain won simply because the media liked him and because independents voted in the primaries. There were problems with all these candidates, and certain candidates got ruled out quickly, while others took longer, but eventually people thought they could settle for McCain more than some of the problems of the others, and one thing they were considering was electability, something they really needed to consider this time around given the anti-GOP environment.

Dear Friends,

We have seen the likes of "the politically motivated" slowly bringing a country into ruin, because they no longer stand for, or even understand, the idea of having an ideological concept as a goal. Read each other’s writings: it is “I” and rarely “We the people.” At the founding of this country, men (We) stood shoulder to shoulder and fought for FREEDOM; then the government was formed as a way to defend people from the oppressive processes. The processes have resurfaced, evolved and become more complex but they are still processes people have once again allowed themselves to be controlled by. The country needs to define what was lost over time, and what to fight for. Do you really want to know what the soul really yearns for leaders to do, even if they appear to not know it or want it? Try this webblog to get an idea of the things which this country (We) can (will) stand for: http://the-next-election.blogspot.com

What does it takes to move a whole country in the right direction? Each single person spreading the word through simple communications, and voting for it. How hard is that to do?

Give the prospect of a better life as a present to those you care about before the end of this year.

John K. Gregory

greg1011@bellsouth.net

404-294-1377


It's funny because it also suffers from observation by other states which would also count as an internal change. It's like quantum mechanics on a ridiculously large scale. I imagine fixing the process is either making it blind (as in the results aren't publicized) or doing it all at the same time like election day.

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