Given the low number of votes Dean has received in the primaries thus far, his popularity seems to have dropped precipitously given his front runner status in polls leading up to the the first primaries.
But has Dean’s support really waned as much as it seems? Are the primary numbers skewed vs. the actual sentiment of Democratic voters across the nation because of where the initial primaries were held?
Take a look at the Red (Bush) vs. Blue (Gore) states from the 2000 election. Of the 9 states which have held their primaries thus far, only Iowa and New Mexico were Gore states in 2000, and New Mexico by only about 300 votes. The assumption could be made that the Democratic voters in these nine states are more conservative than their counterparts in the blue states such as California, New York, etc.
Seeing as Dean claims to represent the “Democratic wing of the Democratic party,” wouldn’t it seem plausible that he would garner much greater support in those states that tend to be more liberal in general? I’d think so. But we may never know the answer because of the present primary system.
So much influence is given to a few relatively minor states that the nomination has practically be handed to John Kerry by the national media. Yet the total population of all the states that have voted thus far is only 26 million. That’s less than 10% of the nation’s population.
So maybe Dean would win California, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, etc. The states with big populations that voted for Gore in 2000. But by the time they hold their primaries, it’s too late. People have already been influenced by the constant coverage of Kerry’s surge to the top. People are jumping ship from other candidates to support the front runner because ultimately, they just want Bush out of office.
Maybe for exactly that reason, Kerry is the best candidate to face Bush in November. Maybe a couple of those red states can be persuaded to vote blue. West Virginia seems to be ready to flip after seeing tremendous job loss in their factories, mines and mills. Others are close, too. But could Dean scare voters in New Mexico, Iowa and elsewhere that are more conservative? Maybe, if these primaries are any indication.
So what is the solution? Obviously, there needs to be some sort of changes in the primary election schedule. We need a system that gives more states a say in determining the party nominees. The current system results in candidates spending an inordinate amount of time and money in a few relatively small states that don’t reflect much of the population of country in terms of most demographics.
To me the best solution would be to group the states into a 3-4 “Super Tuesday” dates, with a balance of small and large states; rural and urban; north, south, east, west; that each have similar numbers of voters casitng their votes each election day. Would it really be so hard to take away some of the influence of Iowa and give it to Illinois? Take away some of the influence of New Hampshire and give it to New York?