Democrats to Shepherd States in Primaries?

by Paul Fidalgo // Published January 13, 2010

Tom Schaller at FiveThirtyEight has a must-read interview with a member of the Democratic National Committee's Change Commission, charged with offering solutions for reforming the presidential nomination process. I posted last week on some of the proposals that we knew of at the time, most importantly having to do with the removal of free will from superdelegates, but Schaller makes some more news with his discussion with DNCer Jeff Berman--and it's news that sounds pretty encouraging to FairVote.

Berman tells 538:

[A] major timing recommendation of the Commission is for the states to organize their dates around regional or sub-regional groupings, to address frontloading that occurs within the window. This would include the DNC Rules Committee looking at offering “bonus delegate allocations” for states that schedule their contest in these groupings. The idea here is to try to make the calendar more rational by having states cluster together on a voting day so that the candidates can campaign efficiently in contiguous states, as opposed to situations which we’ve seen in prior cycles where candidates had to campaign for contests held on the same day on both the East Coast and the West Coast. It’s just more efficient for candidates to conduct bus tours and other retail campaigning and to purchase advertising in overlapping media markets when multiple contests are held in contiguous states.

I like the sound of this, because not only does it tell us that the party is interested in doing away with the madness that is the rush to be on Super-Duper Tuesday, but because it offers incentives to states who comply, rather than relying on the usually-ineffective slaps on the wrist for wayward states.

Even better, of course, would be a system that rotates these regional contests (preferably in increasing size, as in the American Plan) so no particular group of states has a monopoly on any part of the calendar. But alas. Even with this new revelation, the same states are still being given unjustified special status, always holding their contests before everyone else. No change has been made along these lines, and indeed, New Hampshire has made it very clear of late that they have no intention of letting anyone (other than Iowa) get in front of them in line. 

Still, this news from Berman makes these baby steps toward reform a little closer to toddler steps.