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Senators Propose
Regional Primary

Two senators who once sought the presidency are mounting an effort to change the nation's primary system, and replace it wirth

"The presidential nomination system is broken," said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). "The American Dream that any boy or girl can grow up to be president has become a nightmare."

Alexander and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) have offered a bill to create a region-by-region primary system in which, on a rotating basis, states in the West, Midwest, South, and East take turns hosting the first batch of primaries and caucuses.

According to a statement released by Lieberman, as of 2012 contests would begin in March, and continue on the first Tuesdays in April, May, and June until each region had a chance to have their say. With each presidential election year, a different region would have a chance to go first. Iowa and New Hampshire would not participate in the regional rotation, and would remain as the historical first caucus and primary in the nation.

Alexander and Lieberman, along with Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said the rush by states to push up their primary date has created a system in which the nominating process begins far too early, leaving a gaping hole in the calendar between the likely rise of a party nominee in early February and the formal nomination at the late summer party conventions.

The senators' joint statement said the proposed legislation would "de-compress" the schedule, allowing candidates to focus their time and efforts and allowing voters in all states the opportunity to have a voice in the selection of party nominees.

UPDATE: Washington Post Polling Director Jon Cohen notes "This may be a tough sell. In our April Post-ABC News poll, most Americans said the rush to earlier primaries wouldn't 'make much difference.' While 63 percent said not much would change, two in 10 thought having a large number of primaries earlier than ever would make the process better; 14 percent said it'd make things worse.

A more popular reform? In the recent Post-Kaiser-Harvard poll, more than seven in 10 said they'd support changing the system to elect presidents by direct popular vote instead of through the Electoral College.

--Matthew Mosk

By Post Editor  |  August 1, 2007; 10:11 AM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , Primaries  
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Comments

It's not even a good start, and let us stop pretending that Iowa and New Hampshire have any real tradition to protect. It's not as if Polk was scrambling out to Iowa in the middle of winter 1844(it wasn't even a state yet). Tradition is almost never a good justification for legislation anyway. They have been picking terrible nominees for president now for 39 years, and it is about time we end their reign of terror. It doesn't matter what primaries come third or forth(does anyone even know who usually goes after SC?), after the first two the contest is decided. A better idea is to have all the states go at once, but if you can't get that past the RNC and DNC (not to mention the state houses that actually make these ridiculous rules), then try to set up a rotating primary. And just for good measure force Iowa and New Hampshire to go last for the next 70 to 80 years.. It can be a new Tradition.

Posted by: claronridge | August 1, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Having lived and worked in Iowa for a presidential caucus campaign, I have nothing but the sincerest admiration for the people of Iowa, their strong sense of civic duty and community, and their important role in the nomination process. What occurs in the small communities of Iowa on caucus night is truly democracy in action. Certainly, New Hampshire and, more recently, South Carolina, offer similar testing grounds for candidates and their campaigns. Will this alternative provide an equitable solution that replicates this primary experience for other U.S. voters? I don't know. However, in principle, a rotating-regional primary system appears rather appealing in the face of an increasingly irrational race-to-the-beginning competition led by a vast array of state legislatures.

Posted by: juscogens | August 1, 2007 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Not a bad idea, really. The electoral system does need some across-the-board standardization, and this would probably be a good start. I'm not crazy about leaving New Hampshire and Iowa as the first states, though, just because it's tradition. They would still wield a disproportionate influence over the process, and-- no offense to either state-- neither one is exactly a good cross-section of America. The rotating regions isn't a bad idea, but make it apply to everyone. Iowa and New Hampshire will recover from the loss of prestige, and the country will be better off with a more balanced election system.

Posted by: ChristineS1 | August 1, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Not a bad idea, really. The electoral system does need some across-the-board standardization, and this would probably be a good start. I'm not crazy about leaving New Hampshire and Iowa as the first states, though, just because it's tradition. They would still wield a disproportionate influence over the process, and-- no offense to either state-- but neither one is exactly a good cross-section of America. The rotating regions isn't a bad idea, but make it apply to everyone. Iowa and New Hampshire will recover from the loss of prestige, and the country will be better off with a more balanced election system.

Posted by: ChristineS1 | August 1, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

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