Also in the Summer Issue of National Affairs, Jeffrey Anderson and Jay Cost have an article on how to redesign the Republican presidential nomination process:
Any successful reform effort must …shift the balance of power to the party's grassroots. People who live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and contribute money to Republicans, people who live in Northern Virginia and do polling for the party, and Democratic-voting members of the mainstream media should not have considerably more say than the average Republican voter…
During the week of Lincoln's birthday (February 12), the Republican Party would hold a Republican Nomination Convention that would borrow from the process by which the Constitution was ratified. Delegates to the convention would be selected by rank-and-file Republicans in their local communities, and those chosen delegates would meet, deliberate, and ultimately nominate five people who, if willing, would each be named as one of the party's officially sanctioned finalists for its presidential nomination. Those five would subsequently debate one another a half-dozen times. Their fate would ultimately be decided by Republican voters from every state in a series of regional, direct-ballot elections. If nobody won more than half the vote, or won by at least ten percentage points, there would be a runoff between the top two finishers….
The Republican Nomination Convention would include about 3,300 delegates, 3,000 of whom would be elected by rank-and-file Republican voters across the nation in elections put on by local chapters of the Republican Party. Each delegate would represent about 22,000 Republicans, ensuring a strong level of local influence. Given Republican registration rates, this means a typical town of 100,000 people would have a delegate at the nomination convention. A heavily Republican town of that size would have two. An average-sized state like Missouri would have about 60 such delegates at the convention. In addition, each Republican member of the House and Senate, each GOP governor, and (during a Republican administration) each Republican cabinet secretary would also be invited to serve as a convention delegate. These delegates would make up the additional 300 or so at the convention. All in all, about 90% of the delegates would be selected by Republican voters for that express purpose; the other 10% would be Republican officeholders.
I'm not sure that the candidates that emerge from this reformed process would be all that different — or better — than the candidates that emerge from the currently existing process. But it's an interesting proposal, and the stuff in there about the decline of state and local Republican parties certainly resonates for several state and local parties I am familiar with.