A bunch of points from Elaine Kamarck’s “Primary Politics”:
1. Turnout in Iowa has increased almost every year in which there’s a competitive contest. In 2008 227,000 Democrats participated in the caucus, as compared to 124,000 in 2004. Page 17. When candidates show up, participation goes up.
2. In the 1970s the caucus and convention system, “long a private or at most semi-public process, became, by law in both parties, a fully public system.” Pp 20-21. States can change the system.
3. “As the process became public it attracted the kind of attention and voter interest that was unheard of in prior days.” Page 21. If states allocated some or all of their electors to the national winner, then the nominees’ search for voters everywhere would attract huge attention and voter interest everywhere.
4. The primary system had led to consolidation of voting around certain days. It could lead to a national primary, which is favored by “substantially more than 50% of the American public [that] favors the simplest and most direct form of democracy.” Page 26. Similarly, well more than 50% favor simple, direct democracy as the way to choose the president in the general election. The cure for non-participation in politics is to let the people participate directly in a single national vote for president.