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A Broken System
The current presidential nomination system serves both parties poorly.

Mitt Romney accepts the Republican nomination, August 30, 2012.

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Michael Barone

There would be a series of regional direct-ballot elections, with the winner required to get 50 percent of the votes and to win by a 10 percent margin. Otherwise, there would be a runoff between the top two finishers.

The nominee would be determined by the end of April and could choose a VP candidate for formal acceptance in a summertime “made-for-TV convention.” There are more details, but you get the idea.

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There are some practical problems here. The Republican National Committee can change its nominating rules, but in many states the nominating process is controlled by state law, and Republicans don’t control every legislature.

The courts have generally let parties set their own rules, but someone must pay for the nominating conventions and the regional elections.

“The new system would reinvigorate local and state party organizations,” Anderson and Cost argue. It would certainly give conscientious Republicans an incentive to participate in local parties, which currently attract only political junkies.

But another possibility is that it will just give presidential candidates an incentive to pack local parties, starting long before the week of Lincoln’s birthday. Ron Paul enthusiasts have already been doing this.

That might require scads of money, which means the influence of elite fundraisers would not be reduced.

Anderson and Cost make strong arguments that it would be “more efficient, more cost-effective, more deliberative, more consensus-based, more republican, and more conducive to victory” than the current system. Let’s think about it.

— Michael Barone, senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner, is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor, and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. © 2013 The Washington Examiner



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