The DNC has already stripped Florida of delegates in an attempt to force it to comply with DNC rules and as a deterrent to other states thinking of advancing their primary elections to a date before February 5, 2008. Now there is a pledge letter being circulated among the Democratic presidential candidates asking them not to campaign in those states that violate the rules by scheduling their primaries to early.
Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, Bill Richardson, John Edwards, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton have all signed the letter. While I do hope that this coupled with the threat of banning delegates from the convention forces states like Florida and Michigan to rethink their moves to hold earlier primaries, I can help but feel that it betrays our democracy at a fundamental level.
As I said before, I think that Florida’s move and Michigan’s proposed move would have a negative impact on the primary process because it will shift the deciding factors of this primary even more toward fundraising and name recognition and away from voter investigation of candidates. But by not campaigning in the violating states, candidates are potentially making a bad situation worse.
The problem with having big states run early primaries is that the only cost effective way to reach voter beyond TV ads, which are not really a good basis for voter decision-making. However, if Florida or Michigan do not change their primary schedule, they will not see any candidates and make the most uninformed decision, and while their vote won’t officially count, people will take note, and it could still have a major affect on the election.
Hopefully, though, Florida and Michigan back down and hold later primaries. But if they don’t, we have a situation that isn’t good for anyone.