Monday, August 13, 2007

Defending New Hampshire and Iowa. Again.

Professor Bainbridge gives the inaugural Why Do We Allow Ridiculous States Like NH and IA to Have Such Power? essay for the quadrennial party nominations for president. This grows tiring.

Lileks does the obligatory reply more humorously than I do. And Glenn Reynolds explanation, that the whole country allows it just to piss off California and New York isn’t true, but it should be.

Yes, of course it’s a ridiculous amount of fuss to be made over a small percentage of unrepresentative voters, and the overanalysis is irritating to us, too. But we make the same arguments in reply every four years, and I haven’t seen them answered.
1. The theory is that not only super-rich candidates have a chance. Give evidence that this doesn’t work and propose a better method that states will actually adopt.
2. Each of the 50 states in unrepresentative in some way. Choose your poison. There is no “No Poison” choice. Rotating and/or regional primaries is a fine idea. California is going to love it the year that Alaska and Mississippi win that lottery, aren’t they?
3. California and 4 other states already dominate the November election, the one that actually, uh, counts, y’know? So that’s not enough?
4. And the people you guys regularly elect for your own states are just great, too.
5. NH is about 50% populated by people from other states, particularly Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York. This has resulted in a deterioration of both our Republican and Democratic candidates. Now you bastards want more influence? Go pound sand.
6. It has proven much harder for people to vote illegally here. Unlike your state.
7. The identified problem of Not Enough Dark People applies almost entirely to the Democrats. Dark Republicans have not been complaining. So go ahead, let’s have the District of Columbia primary be the first in the nation, for both parties. Hey, where did everyone go?
8. The arguments for knocking NH & IA off the perch always quickly deteriorate into the same stereotypes, similar to Bainbridge’s “these unrepresentative, yahoo infested, pissant states.” Consequently, we suspect that the stereotypes are your real reason for resenting us. Seeing that NH consistently has among the best SAT’s and lowest dropout rates in the country (and last I checked, Iowans do pretty well there also), we’re guessing that as you can’t figure out two small states that sit still and can be looked up in the encyclopedia and everything, you shouldn’t be given any more power in elections. Iowa and New Hampshire have a pretty good idea about California and New York. You haven’t got a clue about us.

Let us all remember Mike Barnicle, who gave the 1996 Let’s Kick New Hampshire address. How’d that work out?

And that’s when he was sober.


Anonymous said...

"Iowa and New Hampshire have a pretty good idea about California and New York. You haven’t got a clue about us."

What a good line! A native Iowan, I actually lived in NYC for over a year. I'm going to see a candidate here in NW Iowa in a few minutes.

Foobarista said...

I'm a native Californian, and proud of my weird state - if you ignore the public moonbattery, there are actually tens of millions of quite reasonable people here. But I also agree with the "marathon" aspect to the primary system, and "retail politics" can't work here.

My biggest change would be to rotate the "first position" among the ten smallest states. Also, having Iowa go first means you don't go anywhere unless you sign up to support ag subsidies and kiss Archer Daniels Midland's heinie. If we're serious about pork and corporate welfare, this has to go.

At least if we rotate, a different heinie gets kissed every electoral cycle, and we'll have a chance to undo the last ones...

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Ten smallest? Go for it.

Anonymous said...

Well, while we're all having some good-natured American fun poking at our neighbor's foibles (until a European shows up, then we'll all unite as Yankees) I'll just add that in my experience Iowans are people whose children move away to California. Eagerly. At a run. And those former Iowans don't move to any of California's agricultural central valley or inland empire counties (the ones that make California the US's #1 ag producing state). No, they make a beeline for the Golden State's populous coastal regions and frighten the folks back home by telling them The OC isn't just a TV show, it's almost a documentary.

The New Hampshire people I know spend a lot of time grumbling that there's no work. Other than the snow shoveling, their lifestyle resembles something commonplace in California's Mendocino county. New Hampshire nativists complain about the newly rich from Boston moving in and bringing their scandalous behavior with them, and Mendocino nativists complain about the newly rich from San Francisco moving in and bringing their scandalous behavior with them.

Iowa and New Hampshire are more like California and New York than someone who hasn't a clue might suppose. Iowa and New Hampshire folk are even beginning to whine about illegal aliens taking their jobs.

Ben Wyman said...

When the writers of "The West Wing" were planning an episode about the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries, they focused on these same issues.

The episode ended up being about how candidates coming through Iowa have to do a subsidizing-ethanol pledge that they never follow up on later and might actually prove politically damaging, but because such a small state is so important, they grit their teeth and lie through them.

But doing research for the show, they discovered something surprising: New Hampshire is an excellent indicator for the rest of the country. The results were so dramatic they ended up having to cut NH from the show entirely, as there was no one local issue to blow out of proportion.

New York and California would be less of a good indicator, I think.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

That ag subsidies thing is a good point, particularly as, according to Ben, there is no equivalent to kick NH about.

The 10 smallest states in population include the Dakotas, Wyoming, and Montana. Those seem similar to each other, anyway. Alaska and Hawaii, both similar to nothing else. Maine, VT, and RI, all mildly similar to NH.

I don't see the advantage. I would be nice for Republicans in VT to have their votes count for something again, but the VT Democrats are much more counterculture liberal than the rest of the country, except perhaps Northern California.

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