PS: Political Science & Politics


Reforming Presidential Nominations: Rotating State Primaries or a National Primary?

Caroline J. Tolberta1, David P. Redlawska1 and Daniel C. Bowena1

a1 University of Iowa

As part of their ongoing efforts to address frontloading and other perceived problems, both the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Republican National Committee (RNC) proposed revised schedules and rules for 2008. The major changes for the Democrats were that two new states were allowed to join Iowa and New Hampshire in violating the official February 5 start date. The idea was that these states—Nevada from the West and South Carolina from the South—would enhance participation by more diverse populations (Latinos and African Americans). While the Republican rules called for states to lose half of their delegate vote if they violated the timing rules, the Democrats implemented a “death penalty” requiring any state violating the timing rules to lose all of its delegates. The New York Times called these changes the biggest shift in the way Democrats have nominated their presidential candidates in 30 years. Yet in the end these changes did little to lessen frontloading, as 70% of all delegates were actually chosen by the beginning of March. Two large states (Michigan and Florida) defied both national parties and voted before February 5.