Regional Voting

There are new polls out showing Ben Carson as the leader in Iowa at the moment. None of this means anything as there are loads of examples where candidate X lead three months out and failed to get single digit support in the actual caucuses. Ben Carson could say something batty like evolution is the work of Satan and everything changes. I have nothing for or against Carson, I’m just pointing out that these polls are meaningless.

But, it does raise the age old question about Iowa. Why do they go first? Iowa is not very representative of the country. Iowa, for example, is 2.6% black, while America is 13% black. It has a family formation rate similar to Texas, but votes like Connecticut. Similarly, it has church attendance similar to Tennessee, but votes for pro-abortion candidates. Iowa is a very weird state.

If I’m running the GOP, I’d want a state that is typical of my voting base to kick off the season. Virginia would be a good example as it is usually Republican and conservative, but it’s not Utah. They will vote Democrat and parts of the state are fairly loony so it has a good mix. The best solution would be to have a group of states vote first and pick the states that hover around the political center, like Missouri, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Thinking about it reminded me of a previous post about how the country would look post break up. America is becoming two ships passing in the night with most areas solidly in one camp or the other. It occurred to me that both parties are collapsing largely because they are out of sync with the balkanization of the country, even though both parties are responsible for it.

If you travel around the country, it is clear that Arlington Texas is in a different country from Arlington Massachusetts. On the other hand, Portland Oregon is not a lot different from Portland Maine. It’s a big country with distinct regional cultures and sensibilities. The parties would be wise to take advantage of this to produce leadership and nominees that represent a broader segment of the country.

I’m thinking about this great map from the book American Nations.

We have roughly five regions in the country. New France, El Norte and New Netherland are too small to make this work so I’m sticking with the big five. If we divide the states into five buckets and have each vote for the presidential nominee as a block, then it forces the candidate to appeal to at least three regions of the country.

The obvious flaw is that one or two regions could have a hometown favorite and you end up with no candidate getting three regions so this regional vote has to be an over layer on the state by state system. Currently, the states send delegates to the convention based on the makeup of their congressional delegation. Then there are a bunch of extra delegates so the party leaders can put their thumb the scale.

My thinking is you have regional delegates that are awarded to candidates that win the popular election in the regions. A candidate that won the most votes in Yankeedom, for example, would get all of those regional delegates, even if they only won Mass and Connecticut. Similarly, winning California by a few points, could still mean losing the region if the other candidate wins the other states by big margins.

The idea is not to create national candidates, but to create nominees that think regionally and strategically. Crafting a campaign that appeals to The Midlands, Appalachia and the South is not just going to win the nomination, but it will make for a winning general election campaign, at least for the Republicans. It also breaks their nominees free from trying to appeal to primary voters in the Northeast who will never vote for them in the general.

Obviously, I have no spent a lot of time thinking it through, but I’m thinking that the current situation is headed for a bad place. The GOP is dumpster fire of a party, as we see with the struggle to find a new Speaker of the House. If a welfare state technocrat from Wisconsin is the bets they can do, it may be time to disband and try something else.

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8 years ago

One quibble with your post is that I think you’re underestimating the population of El Norte. LA county alone is 10 million people. There’s at least 3 million a piece in Orange, San Diego, and Maricopa (Phoenix) counties, plus about 2 million each in San Bernardino, Riverside, and Clark (Las Vegas). That’s 25 million people before you even get into Texas.

8 years ago

The smoke filled room of old was a whole lot simpler, more efficient, and probably more effective. Maybe it’s time to go back.