12 Apr 2022


The National Primary as a Candidate Selection System

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The National primary candidate selection system is whereby delegates and candidates are selected in a direct, statewide process. Just as in general elections, primary voters choose their preferred candidate through a secret ballot, and the results are used to determine the delegates for each party. Proponents of the primary system argue that it is a way of making every state’s primary votes count and that it would shorten the amount of candidate campaigning and advertising. However, it goes without saying that the national primary system is an unfair system, and it is a cause of more harm than good. Maybe it is time that the regional primary system was put into consideration ("The Primary Problem," 2017)

First, a national primary requires a huge pool of resources and popularity. That said, this system will be largely for the better-funded, better-known candidates because they will be in a better position to finance their large campaign operations and expensive advertising needed to in the national ‘give me your vote’ effort carried out in all states. The lesser popular candidates who do not have extensive campaign operations do not have the opportunity to reach out to more voters and build a strong support system ("Forbes Welcome," 2017).

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Also, the states with higher delegate counts and large populations will receive more attention from both the media and campaigns, leaving out other states. Also, the national primary strips political parties of their power and control over their eventual nominee. State party leaders are no longer flexible enough to set their caucus or primary dates based on considerations of specific states such as state holidays, redistricting issues, or other local and state elections.

The national primary process is imbalanced due to the state-by-state discrepancies. The primaries held in most states are organized and funded by the respective state governments. Other territories and states opt for party nominating conventions and caucuses, which have long processes and complicated rules that result in a lower voter turnout compared to primaries. Some contests are solely meant for pledged party members, while other are open to all voters with no consideration of their political affiliation. The wide variations that exist in the system of the national primary are the causes of unequal vote creation and, consequently, an unfair system (Us News, 2017).

Again, what is the essence of a primary system that restricts public participation? Experience has proven open primaries to be chaotic and disruptive. For this reason, many states have embraced a closed primary system with the aim of maintaining party loyalty and discouraging agitation. However, closed primaries defy the importance of democracy. It is the right of every citizen who pays taxes to be given the opportunity to vote strategically and have a say in the best candidate to join the presidential race. Shutting out voters with no political affiliation through closed primaries and caucuses is a cause of low voter turnout. As a result, the political parties who depend on a large voter turnout for their success are hard hit.

National primaries also challenge democracy when it comes to allocation of delegates. In the republican system, many states select their delegates on a winner-take-most or winner-take-all basis, which is undermining individual votes. Candidates on the Democratic sides should acquire not less than 15 percent in the state’s popular vote so as to become delegates, a policy that does not go well with most voters ("The Primary Problem," 2017).

The national primary is just a mess, and 2008 is enough evidence that this system will not work. In this year, over twenty-four states held a caucus or primary on February 5, and what resulted was a de facto national primary. What was supposed to be a super duper Tuesday became a Tsunami Tuesday. The situation turned sour for the overwhelmed party leaders, election officials, and campaigns that both parties joined hands to ensure that 2012 would not see a repeat of the same.

Nationalizing the primary elections process is, undoubtedly, not a good idea. The National Association of Secretaries of State has, for a long time now, advocated for rotating regional primary system, where every state has an equal opportunity to participate. Under the regional primary, the U.S. will be split into four regions, which would take turns in being the first to vote in every election period. The candidate selection will be spread out over four months, and not the one day as in national primaries. Therefore, the voters will have an opportunity to keenly scrutinize the candidates and their public policy regarding the issues in different states. Also, each candidate will have an equal opportunity to make an impression on the voters.

Americans deserve a proper system of candidate selection, and with that said, a national primary is out of the question. This system of presidential nominee selection is not only arbitrary, but also chaotic, which is a cause of great frustration for political party members, candidates, and voters. A national primary is like putting state against the state when establishing a vote order, and it does not give all voters an opportunity to have a say when it comes to selecting presidential nominees ("The Primary Problem," 2017).


The Primary Problem . (2017). Nytimes.com . Retrieved 10 March 2017, from http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/02/opinion/02sun1.html

Forbes Welcome . (2017). Forbes.com . Retrieved 10 March 2017, from https://www.forbes.com/2008/01/03/primaries-presidential-politics-oped-cx_daa_0103primaries.html

(2017). Retrieved 10 March 2017, from https://www.usnews.com/debate-club/is-a-national-primary-a-good-idea/a-national-primary-wouldnt-work

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