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" 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.
"Gangale is passionate about reforming the current presidential primary system. He briefly covers some familiar topics such as the historical evolution of the process and, more recently, how the reforms of the McGover-Fraser Commission have been perverted. The heart of the book, however, is a proposal to replace the current process with what Gangale calls the American Plan. One of the key features of this plan is for small states to hold primaries early and have large states vote last. Apparently Gangales proposal has gains some support within the National Association of Secretaries of State. Whether or not one agrees with Gangale's proposal, he has written a thoughtful, readable prescription for electoral reform. Recommended. Lower-division undergraduate through professional collections." -