Let’s join the Super Tuesday fray

The Herald’s Feb. 7 editorial:

Would you have liked Barack Obama driving through Sanford to talk to small business owners? How about Mike Huckabee speaking at your church? Hillary Clinton talking to the local Hispanic Task Force. John McCain meeting with local troops. Mitt Romney stopping by to check out our airport?
This is exactly the treatment states like Iowa, New Hampshire and the 24 states involved in this week’s Super Tuesday have received during this presidential election. Through the several caucuses and primaries in the past month, we’ve seen the presidential field go from about a dozen to five. This month, we could see even more drop out.
And by the time we North Carolinians head to the ballot box this May to vote on our local issues, the presidential candidates will more than likely be decided for us. There’s a slight chance we’ll be the deciding factor in the Democratic race, but odds are, that will be decided long before we vote as well.
Holding our primaries later must have sounded like a good idea at the time. It gave state and local candidates more time to campaign, and it gave North Carolinians more time to consider the ballots before them and consider their choices for president.
But if the presidential candidates decided before May 6, the plan could backfire in our state. Without a big-ticket race like president, fewer people in North Carolina will head to the polls to vote on the important state and local races. Locally, this would mean fewer people deciding the fate of a possible sales-tax hike to fund local schools.
Meanwhile, states that took part in February’s Super Tuesday saw record voting numbers for a primary, and not only did these states have a big say in who’ll be the Republican and Democratic candidates for president, they more than likely got a lot of important local issues before voters as well.
In 2007, the state legislature considered moving North Carolina’s presidential primaries to January or February to make the state more relevant … or as the case may be, relevant at all. The bill failed, and this week, North Carolinians watched the “fun” and their voices went unheard.
If North Carolina ever decides to join the party, it wouldn’t be the end of the world for local and state candidates to move up their primaries as well, so we’re not stuck with paying for more than one election (a lesson Lee County learned recently with an unnecessary January alcohol vote that drew less than 4 percent of registered voters).
We were like the kid who wasn’t invited to the party this week, and to be honest, it hurt a little to sit at home alone while the other states became important.
North Carolina, let’s join the party in four years and have our voices heard. It will improve voter turnout and, perhaps, we can have some of these candidates at our pig-pickins.

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One thought on “Let’s join the Super Tuesday fray

  1. In the rush for states to capitalize on the past success of early Iowa and New Hampshire events, we’ve seen the whole election primary window move to almost a year before the general election.

    While the point is valid that states like NC that have primaries later in the year(the normal time) may now have little say in the outcome of the primary process, I don’t think the problem is that NC’s primary is “too late”. I think the problem is that many other states are now “too early”.

    I personally think that this election year’s primary/caucus dates were moved up far too early, and compressed too many states into a short time-frame. In the case of this last Tuesday alone, we had over 20 states holding primaries.

    And of course we had a few states try to be the next Iowa. But what they don’t realize is that “Iowa was Iowa” because it was historically the earliest test. If everyone else moves up, then that distinction becomes irrelevant.

    The only choice then is to keep scheduling earlier and earlier, and so the process then repeats itself. At least the Democratic Committee gave Florida and Michigan pause with their sanctions, and hopefully that will slow the mad rush to earlier and earlier contests.

    Perhaps some may argue that it is really only a matter of perspective, but others(including myself) worry that by starting the process too early we end up with more expensive campaigns, voter fatigue, and dilution of the issues by the time the conventions and general elections arrive. The latter is a significant issue/concern.

    … and not to mention that the conventions and subsequent debates become irrelevant if all the other candidates drop out.

    Look where we are now, still 8 months away, and a field of candidates nearly whittled down to three “front runners”.

    With 20+ states holding primaries/caucuses on one day, many states still get entirely ignored. It just isn’t possible for the candidates to visit every state, and it creates a scenario where the candidates put all their time and effort into the “big” states.

    And as we saw with Super Tuesday this week, in the end, piling all these primaries into one day didn’t decide a close race. However I believe that if the primaries had been spread out, we may have seen more granularity as each state would have a stronger voice.

    If one wants to see candidates giving their states and communities the attention they need, I would instead suggest that the primaries be spread out such that no more than two or three occur in a given week up to the conventions. Then the candidates would have the time, and motivation, to actually come and entertain local issues.

    I’m no political pundit, nor campaign manager, but I think NC should keep its primary right where it is. And the Democratic and Republican organizations at the national and state level should organize the primaries so that most states get the attention then deserve by spreading them out.

    I really don’t want to start watching campaign headlines in 2010 for the 2012 election.

    That’s just my opinion 🙂

    Al

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