Major Parties Coordinating on 2012 Presidential Primary Reform

by Paul Fidalgo // Published June 17, 2009
Believe it or not, the Republican and Democratic Parties are preparing to work together to come up with a bipartisan solution to a mutually recognized problem. No, it's not on climate change, nor is it on economic recovery. It's not even on how to name a post office. This exciting bit of comity is being generated by the desire to fix the presidential primary system.

The Hill reported yesterday that the Republican National Committee is beginning serious deliberations with the sincere desire to see the primary calendar spread out to avoid a de facto national primary. Meanwhile, they are in friendly discussions with the co-chairman of the Democratic National Committee's Rules and Bylaws Committee to make sure that both parties are on the same page. As former Ohio GOP chairman Bob Bennett told the Hill, "It's really necessary in this case to work with the Democrats to come up with a workable plan that will be accessible to the individual states."

Of course, some things are harder to change than others. The Hill again:

Major thorns in the side of any reform prospect - concerns of early-contest states Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada - have already been accounted for; the four states that led off the 2008 primary process will do so again in 2012.

But hopefully, whatever comes out of these discussions will be a major improvement on the status quo. Beyond simply stretching out the process, let's hope we see a plan that allows states to take turns in being among the earliest contests, gives less well-funded candidates a fighting chance to make their case, and gives all voters a meaningful opportunity to weigh in no matter where they live. To satisfy these criteria, FairVote specifically backs a solution called the American Plan.

In general, though, it's refreshing that real progress may be made in reforming the presidential primary system. If only we could have this much friendliness between parties all the time.

* * * FairVote is a pioneer in the push for presidential primary reform, and you can learn more from our Fix the Primaries initiative, and check out Adam Fogel and Rob Richie's policy perspective on improving the primaries, "Delegating Democracy."