08 January 2008

Primary Colors

The primary system in this country is broken. It's a relic of segregation, of 19th-century speed of communication... and of the worst interpretations of "partisan."

Let's start with a careful look at population demographics. Sure, measures of "urbanization" often act as proxies for non-Caucasian ancestry, but that's not a very consistent distinction. Urbanization is at least as much about diversified economics as anything else. Smaller communities simply do not have diverse economies. For example, even at its height, the automobile industry never controlled more than about a third of the economy in and around Detroit. Contrast that with, say, Chambanana, Illinois, which is a two-horse town: the University of Illinois and agriculture.

So, then, what does the order in which the primaries (and caucuses) occur tell us about the kinds of candidates we're going to get? The first four weeks looks like this:

State Electoral Votes Rank of Largest SMSA
(2008 SAUS)
Iowa 7 92
New Hampshire 4 121
Michigan 17 10
Nevada 5 31
South Carolina 8 69
Florida 27 7
Totals 68 (25%) 13.1% of total population

Worse yet, these states include only six of the top 50 SMSAs, spread among only three of these states (and one of those three has only one).

<SARCASM> Yeah, I'm thoroughly convinced that farming communities whose only contact with other cultures comes from TV and migrant workers should continue to have a dominant role in selecting candidates for leadership of the only remaining superpower. </SARCASM> Actually, that's not intended as a slap at farmers; it's only to point out that the early results — which the media and party structures are determined to turn into the final results — are coming disproportionately from a non-representative subset. And that's before we get into the question of who votes in primaries anyway (I don't — I'm an independent, so I can't honestly do so... although living this close to Chicago, I'm sure I have).

So, after I finish throwing a shoe at the TV a little later over the short-stroking of the primary results in New Hampshire, I'll get back to the publishing industry. Here's a quick preview, and perhaps a bit of homework: What does mercantilism have to do with the economic model(s) of the entertainment industry?