In recent months, I have been fairly critical of Bernie Sanders supporters despite agreeing with Senator Sanders ideology. I have been put off by those who intolerantly claim anyone not backing their candidate is somehow the handmaiden of the establishment or corporate America. However, I once again find the Sanders and Elizabeth Warren supporting left making far more sense than the party establishment in recent days. The most recent example is on the issue of early caucus and primary states.
Today on MSNBC and CNN, networks that have even more than previously become Democratic Party mouthpieces in the era of Trump, particularly with the people they choose to be analysts on air about politics, the narrative was clear- Iowa cannot be trusted to have the first in the nation caucus, and while we are at it New Hampshire shouldn’t have an out sized influence either – let’s take it to bigger states that are “more representative” of America.
I personally cannot state in strong enough terms, as a person of color how much I dislike and disapprove of such discussions, which have happened for years but never quite with the intensity and momentum of today. In fact I will state here openly that if the Democratic Party for 2024 moves to aggressively (we can interpret aggressiveness in the future if it plays out) undermine both states traditional role in the nominating process, I would consider changing my party registration to NPA. To me party primaries are the only reason I need to be registered in one major party or the other. I am a progressive, whose leftist ideology aligns me with the Democrats. But if the nominating process is further shifted from retail-oriented politics towards big money and big media, I would not feel comfortable being part of that process.
Here is a quick summary of why I feel this way and believe every progressive person that believes in certain values should agree with me.
- Taking the early influence of Iowa and New Hampshire off the table will ENSURE the Dem Party nomination is controlled by monied interests that can control elections, particularly party primaries in bigger states. Those candidates with little money and little national support have historically used the retail one-on-one politics of Iowa and New Hampshire to grow as candidates. Think Jimmy Carter. We need more Jimmy Carter-like candidates and less candidates pre-ordained by party elites either because they are connected financially to them or politically.
- We have often talked on this site about how great the elite establishment of the Democratic Party in Florida has been at ensuring their preferred candidate wins nominations, but then inevitably those same establishment candidates lose General Elections. Democrats have lost 9 of the last 10 statewide races in Florida and 20 of the last 22 races in the state for Governor and Cabinet. In most cases the party apparatus has pushed through preferred candidates in primaries.
- The types of voters Democrats NEED to connect with to win National Elections are more represented in Iowa and New Hampshire, two pure swing states, than in places with more “diverse” populations which are reliably Democratic in General Elections.
- I am tired of hearing about demographics & the need to compete in more “diverse” places early. To me that’s just a losing party, at its lowest ebb since the 1920’s in terms of officeholders at all levels retreating to a comfort zone where elites can control the process & make $. It’s just more identity politics. It’s just an excuse to force the campaign into states with larger media markets early so consultants and campaign operatives can make more money off candidates and “weed out” any potential candidates not pre-approved by party insiders, elites and media commentators who are former or active political consultants.
- Democrats spending time in Iowa and New Hampshire, practicing real retail politics, not just bombarding TV ads in expensive media markets makes them better candidates and ultimately better at governing should they get elected. IF we shift toward large-state early Democratic primaries it will make the party’s nominee less able to broadly appeal to voters across the board & worse at governing. It will also make them even more reliant on donors and the donor class to pay for ads in large stats earlier in the cycle.
I disagree with your concept. I think swing states such as Florida, Michigan & Pennsylvania should be the first on the list. Florida has never had the opportunity to experience the retail one on one politics and I think that is one of the reasons we don’t get excitement. Because of the various media situations in Florida the candidates would be forced to go door to door because of the cost of media. They start a year ahead of time so they can afford to walk the states. Because the swing states truly make a difference in the outcome, we Democrats need to do everything to boast excitement in the races. I feel deprived every time I see Iowa and New Hampshire people getting to meet the candidates several times when primary candidates never visit the swing states. Only the general election candidate visits with large rallies. We have been deprived; spread around the experience.
1.7 million democrats voted in the 2016 presidential primary in Florida. Even starting a year in advance, 12-hour days, no days off, a candidate would have to speak to 10 people a minute to reach them all. Not possible to reach even 10% of that in person, so big money candidates that bombard us with commercials have the advantage. There is no solution with the sheer number of people a candidate has to communicate with to avoid big money in Florida. Big money comes from elites, not you and me. This is Kartik’s point. In contrast, about 176,436 democrats voted in the Iowa primary, which a candidate could reach at 40 an hour under the same pace. I bet if you really tried and could draw big rallies at the end you could reach 80% of Iowa voters in person. Money is less of an advantage, and if you win, you get more free media than you can buy.