Well, Democrats kicked off the election cycle with an bang. We still don’t know the results of the Iowa caucuses because the app they were using to tally results apparently didn’t work. Instead, they’re trying to count votes by hand. It couldn’t have gotten more anticlimactic.
It’s time to end caucuses altogether. For a party that demands access to the polls and argues that high voter turnout is desired, allowing a caucus state to start the primary season is a bit hypocritical. Caucuses limit the number of voters and have arcane rules that allow campaigns to try to game the system. People who want to participate are excluded. It’s not a good a look and not very democratic.
Iowa is lousy place for Democrats to start anyway. The party represents the diversity of our country, but Iowa is a remarkably homogeneous state. It’s about 90% white and solidly Republican in presidential elections. The party should start in a state that looks more like its base.
The first job of a campaign, at least after raising money, is to consolidate its base. Democrats should be doing that early in the presidential primary cycle. They should start in swing states, building the type of organization that can lead to a victory in November. When the Iowa caucus is over, everybody picks up and leaves because they won’t be competing there in November.
One person on twitter suggested the first primary should be held in the state that had the closest margin in the previous presidential cycle. That makes sense to me. Build organization and capacity in the states where there will be real races.
Yesterday, it wasn’t foreign interference that disrupted the elections. It was technology and human error. Democrats need to be demanding some sort of paper ballot in every election, not moving to technology that can fail or be hacked. They should end caucuses that benefit candidates who can manipulate rules and motivate small, narrow constituencies instead of building larger, more sophisticated GOTV programs. And they should kick off the presidential cycle in states that will matter in in November or, at least, more closely reflect the diversity of the modern Democratic Party.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >