by user Michael Smith
By moving their primary to near the front of the process, California ensures that only the candidates with the biggest war chest can play.
New Hampshire and Iowa may not be completely representative of the American population, and the entire process may be tediously long, but that has its advantages. The small states at the beginning of the process help improve the chances of a hard working outsider getting some attention. A candidate without vast funding can advance his ideas door to door and be judged on the merit of those ideas. Jimmy Carter, Pat Buchanan, and Gary Hart are a few examples of candidates whose surprising results in New Hampshire helped transform the debate.
The length of the primary process has some benefits too. It’s only over the duration of the campaign trail that we get to see the character flaws or quirks of the candidates come to the surface. If we condensed the process to just a snapshot, who knows, we might have seen President Gary Hart or Howard Dean. It helps reveal some insight to their executive temperament to watch our candidates slog through a grueling campaign.
California’s February vote may or may not be won by the best qualified candidate – but is very likely to be won by the best financed. The winner won’t be assured the nomination, but will have a formidable advantage. California awards convention delegates by district on a winner-take-all basis. So, in a four-way race it might be possible for the “winner” of 26% to capture 173 delegates (7% of those needed for nomination). By the end of the day, February 5 th, just over 25% of Republican convention delegates will already be decided.
If California insists on going so early, they should consider awarding their delegates on a proportional basis. At least then the process would more democratically reflect the will of all their voters.