The Primaries: Do they help or hurt?



A lot of people, inlcuding myself are fed up with the "2 Party system." I think a step towards getting 3rd parties more votes would be to eliminate the primaries and leave more names on the ballots.

Most voters are aware that the status quo is either a Democrat or a Republican is going to be elected. We hold primaries so each party can nominate a candidate. This in itself eliminates candidates because people start deciding who is more "likely" to get elected for that party. Let's vote for him. There are already rules for the number of signatures needed to get on the ballot, so it is unlikely each state would be flooded with hundreds of candidates from the same party. Generally there are 6 or 8 candidates who even make it to the debates. So why do we have to cut out all but one??

If people were not so certain that the country was going to be for Bush or Kerry, they may rethink and actually put in a vote for the underdog Republican, Democrat or third, fourth, fifth party candidate. If it opens the door to the underdogs of the 2 big parties, it would do the same for the 3rd parties. Over time, we might even see a shift of the majority party.

As polling continued through the election year, I think the numbers would significantly be different than what we see today. This would open the door to the executive office to some very valid candidates, ones who today cannot make it into the debates, and ulitmately be better for the country.

Yes, no, maybe?


May 17, 2004
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The Canuckistan Plains
MisterMike, You'll have to forgive me, but I am not 100 percent clear on how the process works. If you could be a little more specific, both in the current process and what you think would work better, that would be very helpful.


The Primaries - basically the nominations for each party's canidate. Remember the Liberal leadership race? The Conservative one? Same thing.


Some info on the Primaries from the above site:

The first proposal for a national primary was made in 1911 by Congressman Richard P. Hobson (D-AL) (Davis, 1997, pg. 195). In 1912, Theodore Roosevelt, now running for President under the Bull Moose Party, supported the national primary (pg. 196). The idea gained such attention that Woodrow Wilson (not considered a Progressive) who defeated Roosevelt in 1912 also proposed the plan before Congress. "But this recommendation had low priority on Mr. Wilson's legislative agenda" (pg. 196).

At this point however, the Progressive movement and the primary system both began to decline. The Republican party was weakened "by the deep schism between the Old Guard and the Progressives [that] did little to spur expansion of the presidential primary and other Progressive reforms" (Davis, 1997, pg. 15). Also, Crotty and Jackson (1985, pg. 15) point out individual primaries brought "unpleasant side effects," and "led to disillusionment with the primary system." Progressives had made their mark however, and brought about some changes in how Presidential candidates were selected. The resulting compromise made over the next few years in how Presidents were nominated is described by Ceasar (1982, pg. 22-27) as a "mixed system" that was put in place by 1924. Party conventions (something many Progressives wanted to do away with) continued to be used, political brokering continued, but now with more of a balance between primaries and caucuses and more delegates bound to candidates. Still, this was a far cry from what Progressives first envisioned.