Reorganization of the 2012 presidential primaries will be at the top of the agenda at next week’s meetings of the Republican National Committee. First the Rules Committee, beginning on April 1, and later the “committee of the whole” will vote on plans offered by Ohio, Texas, Michigan (and others) to change the system that many party leaders concede has failed this year.
Those party leaders are rightly concerned about the undue influence the small states that lead the primary schedule — Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina in particular – have on the nomination process.
In his March 24 memorandum to the RNC (a copy of which has been obtained by HUMAN EVENTS), Ohio Republican Chairman Robert T. Bennett cites the conflict between the “form” — the style and timing of a state’s primary or caucus — and the “function,” to nominate a candidate for national office.
Bennett’s “modified Ohio plan” divides states into three “pods” which will rotate their primary dates every 4-year election cycle. The first would hold primaries in the third full week of February (February 19, 2012) but no earlier. The second would hold theirs during the second week of March (March 11, 2012) and no earlier. The third would hold theirs in the first full week of April (April 1, 2012) but not earlier.
But under Bennett’s plan, four of the smaller states — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — would retain their ability to hold primaries as early as January 8, 2012.
Bennett’s plan moves things around, but fails altogether to deal with the disproportionate weight that these small states now have in the race. It still magnifies their influence at the expense of bigger states and ones that may be much more important in the fall elections.
Other versions of Bennett’s Modified Ohio plan — one offered by Texas, another from Michigan and, according to one source, another from South Dakota — all reportedly offer different versions of essentially the same plan. (The Texas plan, which we have not seen, may be quite different.) The Michigan plan would divide states into regions and then hold a lottery to assign primary dates to groups of states. It proposes such a lottery every four years to set the order of common primaries in each region. Alternatively, the Michigan plan offers a one-time lottery to set the order of the regions with the results being rotated in order every four years afterward.
Only the Michigan plan, according to our sources and documents obtained by HUMAN EVENTS, could include New Hampshire and Iowa in the groups of states that would rotate their primary dates every four years.
Some of these plans enable states to opt out of the groups to which they are assigned. Advocates of the several plans are now lobbying Rules Committee members to gather votes before next week’s meetings.
But the major issue to conservatives isn’t even on the agenda. Huckabee won the 2008 Iowa Republican caucuses and – with McCain placing third – the outcome was influenced, but not apparently controlled, by the approximately 14% cross-over vote.
As I wrote back in January, “According to a Fox News exit poll, 32% of the Michigan Republican primary voters identified themselves as independents or Democrats. Another Fox exit poll showed 20% of the South Carolina Republican primary voters said they were either Democrats or independents. In Michigan, Gov. Romney won with 39%, Sen. McCain was second at 30% and Gov. Huckabee third at 16%. In South Carolina, John McCain won with 33% of the vote, Mike Huckabee had 30% and Fred Thompson had 16%. Given those margins, it’s pretty clear that the Dems and independents controlled the result in both states.”
In New Hampshire, the results were the same. According to Fox News exit polls, 39% of New Hampshire’s independents were voting GOP ballots. Sen. McCain won by about 5.5% over Gov. Romney in New Hampshire. Again, the independents apparently controlled the results.
By allowing cross-over voting, the Republican Party is enabling liberals to choose its nominee. Just as conservatives demand our borders be secure against illegal aliens, conservatives insist that Republicans — and only Republicans — choose the Republican nominee for president.
Just as America cannot be a sovereign nation without secure borders, the Republican Party cannot claim to be an political entity that stands for any principle if it permits its political opponents to control its nomination process.
The March 20 Pew Research Center poll showed that in the first two months of this year, only 27% of Americans identified themselves as Republicans. People will not identify with a political party that has no identity.
The Democrats long ago solved this problem. The DNC rules say specifically:
“Participation in the delegate selection process shall be open to all voters who wish to participate as Democrats. Democratic voters shall be those persons who publicly declare their Party preference and have that preference publicly recorded.”
“No person shall participate or vote in the nominating process for a Democratic presidential candidate who also participates in the nominating process of any other party for the corresponding election.”
Why can’t the Republicans impose those limits on their primaries? They can and should. Otherwise, they may as well just subcontract their primaries to the Democrats.