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The Problem with Presidential Primaries

Powerful Essays
The Problem with Presidential Primaries

Ever since the election season of 1972, presidential primaries have become “the dominant means of selecting the two major party candidates.”i[i] The primary system is one in which the eligible voters of each state do one of the following: 1) Vote for a presidential candidate to run for their party in the general election. 2) Vote for a delegate pledged to vote for a certain candidate at the party’s national convention. As intended, this process would bring the candidate selection processes out into the open and “let the people vote for the candidate of their choice.”ii[ii] On the surface, this may look very democratic (and admittedly, in some instances it was/is), but upon closer examination, it becomes overwhelmingly clear that the candidates are chosen long before the people cast their vote. The culprit: the structure of the presidential primary system.

The most influential structural element of the new primary system is the newfound practice of the political parties choosing a favored candidate before the primary season. The parties then throw all their support and financial backing behind this candidate and instantly make him/her a front-runner. While this element is standard among the two parties, the remaining structure of the primary system differs between the two main political parties. While both the Democratic and Republican parties hold open and closed primaries, the two parties hold many of their state primaries on separate dates. Additionally, the two parties have different rules that determine how each state’s delegates are allotted. The Democrats practice the proportional representation method of delegate allocation. The Republicans, on the other hand, pract...

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... Online. Internet. 18 Mar. 2000. Available: http://www.thegreenpapers.com/Definitions.html#Prop.

i[iv] “New Hampshire Republican Delegation 2000.” The Green Papers: Election 2000. 1 Mar. 2000. Online. Internet. 18 Mar. 2000. Available: http://www.thegreenpapers.com/PCC/NH-R.html.

v[v] “Delaware Republican Delegation 2000.” The Green Papers: Election 2000. 9 Feb. 2000. Online.Internet. 18 Mar. 2000. Available: http://www.thegreenpapers.com/PCC/DE-R.html.

v[vi] “South Carolina Republican Delegation 2000.” The Green Papers: Election 2000. 4 Mar. 2000. Online. Internet. 18 Mar. 2000. Available: http://www.thegreenpapers.com/PCC/SC-R.html.

v[vii] “The Green Papers: Election 2000 Presidential Primary Season.” The Green Papers: Election 2000. 18 Mar. 2000. Online. Internet. 18 Mar. 2000. Available: http://www.thegreenpapers.com/.
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