Friday, February 1, 2008

Wow, do caucuses suck

In every incarnation, caucuses as an idea suck, and suck hard. There is the general odiousness of the system. Then there is what we've seen in 2008:

1. Iowa: This "first-in-the-nation" try that supposedly allows smaller candidates a chance to break through the hype and spin. So it uses a system that invalidates a hefty number of votes. In 2008, almost all support for Biden, Dodd, Kucinich, Gravel, and Richardson in Iowa were thrown out.

In the entrance polls, those five combined for just about 15% of the support that night. Due to the arcane system, they received 3% of the delegates. This system cut support for non-glamour candidates by 80%. Not to mention the spectacle of entitled farmers feeling they should meet all candidates for president before voting.

2. Nevada: Having shorn the race of candidates that couldn't hold the media's interest, we arrive in Nevada. Nevada, home of the hideous at-large caucuses designed to favor voters in certain fields.

Okay, those two are no way to pick a president. Pretty hideous. But at least they mimicked a real political contest, unlike the third caucuses to be held this season, the Republican contest in...

3. Maine: In addition to all the other problems inherent in demanding that people show up at a certain time and place to publicly declare support, there isn't even a consistent time. Here is the (abridged) schedule for the Republican caucus in the Bangor area, according to the Bangor News:

Penobscot County cities and towns will gather at Peabody Hall at Husson College at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2...Knox County towns will gather at the Samoset Resort in Rockport at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 2...Hancock County towns will gather at Ellsworth City Hall and Blue Hill Town Office at 10 a.m., at the Bucksport Town Office at 1 p.m. and the Orland Town Hall at 2 p.m., all on Feb. 2...central Aroostook towns will gather at the Campus Center of the University of Maine at Presque Isle at 4 p.m. Feb 2...northern Aroostook towns will gather at Fox Auditorium at the University of Maine at Fort Kent at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1...Waldo County towns will gather at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast at 9 a.m. Feb. 2...

In the region of one city, for an event that will lock you out if you arrive late, the Maine caucus has seven different starting times. Seven! And who knows what counts as a "central Aroostook town" versus a northern one? Which Hancock County towns meet when?

Best of all, these start times are spread over two different days! What the hell is this, Freedonia?

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