Original posting 8 February 2010
Adopted Wednesday 30 December 2009
The delegates at the 2008 Democratic National Convention created the Democratic Change Commission to make recommendations for improvements to the 2012 presidential nominating process. These recommendations cover-- determining the dates during which primaries and caucuses may be held, reducing the number of unpledged delegates, and improving the caucus system.
On 30 December 2009, the report of the Democratic Change Commission was adopted. The report makes several recommendations:
1. The pre-window states (Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina) may begin their nominating processes on or after Wednesday 1 February 2012. TheGreenPapers notes: In 2008, 3 of the 4 pre-window states and 2 of the remaining states went before their original authorized date.
2. All other states may begin their process on or after Tuesday 6 March 2012 (first Tuesday in March). TheGreenPapers note: The 2008 window for all other states was 5 February 2008. Corresponding to the proposed 6 March 2012 starting date-- by 4 March 2008, jurisdictions representing 83% of the delegate votes had begun their process.
3. The Party should create an incentive to encourage states to regionally cluster contests. TheGreenPapers note: There was no such plan in 2008.
4. The Party should create an incentive to encourage states to hold their contests later in the cycle. TheGreenPapers note: The 2008 incentive plan awarded states a 5 to 30% bonus for starting their process at a later date. Only 10 states participated in the plan and those states received a total of 54 bonus delegates. Note that the bonus was computed on a subset of the total number of delegates allocated to the state rather than the entire delegation and a state had to start later in 2008 than it did in 2004 to receive a 15 or 30% bonus. Since Presidential contenders are typically vetted out in the first few contests (the disproportionate influence of the earlier states) the number of additional delegates seems to be an inadequate compensation for forfeiting the chance to choose from the full complement of candidates. The GOP had a bonus plan in 2000 but eliminated it in 2004. It too offered little in return for starting later in the cycle.
5. The Party should eliminate the unpledged add-on delegate category. TheGreenPapers note: In 2008, 81 out of 4,418 delegate votes were cast by unpledged add-on delegates.
6. The Party should replace the unpledged PLEO (Party Leaders and Elected Officials) delegates (composed of DNC Members, Democratic Members of the U.S.
House and Senate, Democratic Governors, Distinguished Party Leaders, and add-ons) with a new category of pledged NPLEO (National Party Leaders and Elected
Officials) delegates. These pledged delegates (composed of all the above except the add-ons) are allocated proportionally according to the statewide vote-- same formula as the At-Large and Pledged PLEO delegates. Any NPLEO delegate who does not wish to attend the National Convention as a pledged delegate may attended as a non-voting delegate. TheGreenPapers notes: The document does not describe how NPLEO delegates (Governors, Senators, Congressmen, etc.) are handled when a politician leaves or takes office after the selection procedure. The number of 2008 delegates votes in each class is shown below.
7. The Party should improve the caucus system by establishing a "Best Practices" program.
These "Best Practices" per se were not specifically outlined by the Democratic Change Commission itself: nonetheless, it was recommended, by the Commission, that the Rules and Bylaws Committee of the Democratic Party set up a committee made up of representatives from all States holding "first determining step" caucuses (TheGreenPapers presumes that these would be those States planning to utilize the Caucus/Convention system in 2012, with or without a concomitant Primary [this last- Primary and caucuses combined- having been the case in Texas in 2008]) which would itself come up with any such "Best Practices".
Said "Best Practices" would be what the Change Commission referred to as "a set of benchmarks" leading up to the holding of any and all "first determining step" caucuses in 2012: States holding such caucuses would be required to show they are adhering (or, at least, are in the process of adhering) to said "benchmarks" and the oversight re: such adherence would be by the Rules and Bylaws Committee itself.
Although specific "Best Practices" for caucuses were not actually recommended by the Change Commission, the concerns expressed by the Commission as regards caucuses themselves suggest that the following areas might well be addressed by such "Best Practices":
It is all too evident, however, that- as regards such so called "Best Practices" for caucuses- the Commission pretty much steered clear of outright imposing- or, for that matter, even recommending the imposing of- any strictly uniform standard for the holding/conducting of caucuses or higher levels/tiers within the Caucus/Convention process as utilized by any State or equivalent jurisdiction (the Commission itself citing long-standing Party practice and tradition in many States, as well as the differences in election law among States as being a barrier to their so doing). TheGreenPapers.com note: thus, the Caucus/Convention system continues to remain the proverbial "spanner in the works" re: the whole Delegate Selection/Pledging process-- the votes cast in favor of a presidential contender "on the ground" during a local caucus (especially one held earlier in the Primary/Caucus "season" than later) will still end up not being all that reflective of National Convention delegates pledged (or not!) to said contender at a higher level/tier convention later (in some cases much later!) on in the process: therefore, the precinct caucuses will continue to have a function quite unlike the Primaries, in which the votes cast in same are immediately, and mathematically, translatable into the numbers of National Convention delegates pledged to each presidential contender as the Primary/Caucus "season" goes along.
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