Friday, February 08, 2008

Our Broken Primary System

Friday, February 08, 2008
This has been bugging me for a while now, so I thought I'd post about it. I am really frustrated with our primary system. As a resident of Idaho, I feel like I will have no say in who the Republican presidential nominee will be, as the nominee will likely be decided before I even have a chance to vote. Idaho's presidential primary will be held this year on May 27th. Only three states have Republican primaries after Idaho - New Mexico, South Dakota, and Nebraska. From a quick calculation, approximately 95% of all delegate votes will already be determined before I vote. What are the chances that the last 4 states to vote will make an impact or change the final outcome? Probably not that great. My guess is a 0% chance. There may be only one candidate left on the ballot by the time May 27th rolls around.

I believe it is my civic responsibility to vote for the candidate best represents me, but how can I do that when half the candidates have already dropped out of the race? Why is it fair that someone in New Hampshire got to vote for their favorite of four candidates, where I will only have one or two to choose from? I have always been told that every vote matters, and have made an effort to go to the polls (or request an absentee ballot) for each election. It is discouraging to realize that my vote will likely not matter in the upcoming primary. I hope that something changes in the next four years to "fix" our broken system so that the primaries are not so spread out. Can anyone give me a good reason for the way the current system operates?


siredge said...

Sorry for the long comment, but it's not a question for a short answer.

My brother and I were having a similar conversation. So here are some thoughts-
If you move to a national primary where everyone votes on the same day, the unknowns won't have a chance because no one will have heard of them before. What did you know about Obama, Huckabee, or even Mitt Romney 2 years ago? By the time Iowa voted, how much did you know about them? If you only knew what you knew then, who would you have voted for? Do you think the rest of America would have felt like they knew who to vote for? Also, we'd always have huge issues with pluralities, because almost guaranteed that there wouldn't be a single candidate from either side that had more then 50% of the vote. So we would end up having run-offs each time as well. That would get pretty messy, don't you think?

With our current primary system, it helps make sure that the leading candidates get the investigative reporting. The bad part is that some states are practically ignored. The best solution we found for that would be to rotate the primary order. Unfortunately, it may be a difficult sell to Iowa and New Hampshire, who probably like all the attention they get.

Kimberly said...

Thanks Bryce :-) I've been reading up some on a revolving regional primary system... Not sure that would ever happen, but I would really like not to be left in the dust each election!

hotlasagna said...

Yeah, KY is in the same boat--majorly lame...

Maile R said...

Actually, we feel the same way in Hawaii. Because polls close so late over there, our choices have never actually EVER made a difference. It's quite frustrating!!!

Emalee said...

Not to sound too Government teacher on you but the basic answer is the Republicans have nothing to fear in Idaho. Most Idahoans go to the polls and vote for who ever the Republican candidate is. Not until we have a state were two parties compete will the Republican party change the rules because they are the one who make them. Technically the State Legislature makes the rules for primaries and election but our state is so Republican that they don't care. This would be a great topic to write you legislator on.
On a more positive note the Idaho Republican primary is significant to state and local elections. For the above reason, the state is so Republican. Which ever Republican candidate wins the primary will win the general election. For instance, the 2006 House of Rep seat won by Bill Sali. The most difficult part of his race was winning the primary and the first time the Republicans spent money in Idaho for a Congressional seat. Including a visit by the Vice-Pres (good thing he did not have time to hunt while he was here.)
The climate in Idaho is changing and so are the politics. I don't see it too far off that the Republicans change their primary date.
Great question!

Kimberly said...

Just to clarify - I'm not one of those Republicans who votes straight party lines. I really try to do my research and vote for the best candidate for any position. In the primaries, though, I can only vote Republican as a registered Republican voter. And my main concern in writing this post was really only for the Presidential primaries. There have already been 2 Republican candidates who have dropped out of the race, so I don't even have a chance to vote for them. My guess is that John McCain will have the necessary delegate votes before Idaho even holds our primaries.