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From the Primaries to the Polls: How to Repair America's Broken Presidential Nomination Processby Thomas M. Gangale
Synopses & Reviews
America's presidential nominating process is inherently unfair and exclusive, yielding undue weight and privilege to the states that vote in the earliest rounds. More and more states are beating down the door to vote earlier, trying to redress the inequity on a state-by-state basis. In the ensuing free-for-all, the presidential primary schedule has become so front-loaded that the anointed front-runner with the biggest war chest in each of the major parties is the de facto nominee. The primaries are becoming mere noise and pageantry, as the national conventions have been for several decades.
From the Primaries to the PollS≪/i> describes the problem and proposes the solution. The American Plan is designed to begin with contests in small-population states, where candidates do not need millions of dollars to compete and a wide field of presidential hopefuls can be competitive in the early going. A minor candidate's surprise success in early rounds, based on merit rather than money, tends to attract money from larger numbers of small contributors for the campaign to spend in later rounds of primaries. Keeping more candidates in the race longer to challenge to the front-runners prevents a rush to judgment and permits more voters across the country to select from a diverse field. As the campaign proceeds over ten two-week intervals of primaries and caucuses on a semi-randomized schedule, the aggregate value of contested states becomes successively larger, requiring the expenditure of larger amounts of money in order to campaign effectively. A more gradual weeding-out process occurs, allowing a clear winner to emerge only after the full spectrum of candidates has been in play nationally.
Book News Annotation:
Reforms resulting out of the work of the 1969-1972 McGovern-Fraser Commission were initially aimed at taking the US presidential nomination process out of "the smoke-filled rooms of political bosses," yet in Gangale's opinion they have resulted in decision- making being placed in the hands of the check-writers. He has therefore proposed the Graduated Random Presidential Primary System, also known as the California Plan or the American Plan, in which the primary season would be divided into ten two-week periods and randomly selected smaller states (and territories) totaling eight delegates would be contested in the first period, thereafter adding eight more delegates allowed in each subsequent period, resulting in delegate-heavy states such as California holding primaries towards the very end of the process. The plan has garnered support from such organizations as the California Democratic Party, Young Democrats of America, and FairVote. This is a book-length explanation and defense of the plan that also includes Gangale's descriptions of his efforts to promote it and have it implemented. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
THOMAS GANGALE is the author of the American Plan for reforming the presidential nomination process, which is gaining support within the National Association of Secretaries of State and the national and state committees of both parties and on the editorial pages of national newspapers, including The New York Times.
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