Our Primary System Is Broken If You Think 15 States Decide The Winners

by
Priyanka Prasad
The mainstream media has spun this narrative so that Trump and Clinton are the inevitable nominees—yet 70 percent of states still have to vote.

donald trump, chris christie

If you check any given mainstream news outlet—CNN, NBC, the Washington Post, The Daily Beast,—the headlines are all variations of the idea that after Super Tuesday, the race is over: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have crushed their rivals and effectively won the nominations.

This may be true; both candidates racked up the delegates by winning seven delegate-heavy states. It’s going to be an extremely difficult, uphill battle for Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, or Bernie Sanders to catch up. But the fact that journalists and analysts reached this conclusion after only 15 states have voted proves how broken our current primary system is.

On the Democratic side, American Samoa, Arkansas, Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia all held caucuses or primaries. Clinton picked up seven of these (AS, AR, AL, GA, TN, MS, and VA), while Sanders held his own in four (CO, OK, MN, and VT). If we discount American Samoa (it awards only six delegates), she held a seven to four victory state-wise (and Massachusetts was a 1 point difference).

presidential election

This shouldn’t seem insurmountable. Clinton won the states that are more favorable to her (with large African-American populations), and Sanders won those favorable to him. Yet the media has called the race for Clinton because the states she did win were larger and had more delegates.

We’ve essentially given Southern states the power to dictate the narrative of our election.

Their demographics, all very similar, unsurprisingly yield similar results. Thus, candidates who do well in one Southern state, generally do well in all seven of them, generating a false appearance of widespread support for a candidate.

We saw an equivalent situation on the Republican side—Trump definitively won Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia (along with Vermont and Massachusetts in the north), and the only reason he didn’t take Texas is most likely because it is Cruz’s home state. Cruz won Alaska, Oklahoma, and Texas, and upcoming states have more favorable demographics to Rubio supporters. Yet, according to the media, the deal is done; Trump has won.

This is ridiculous. 15 states should not decide the fate of our country, particularly during an election season as crucial as this one.

Allowing this cluster of demographically similar Southern states to vote all at once is an ineffective means of conducting primaries. California, the state with the largest population, has absolutely no voice in deciding either the Republican or Democratic nominee (it votes last on June 7), nor does it have much say in the general election, considering it resides on the West Coast.  New York, the state with the third-largest population, votes extremely late in the primary season as well—April 19.

This affects Democrats and progressives most strongly. These Southern states that decide which Democratic candidate is going to be the nominee vote heavily Republican in the general election; when is the last time Alabama or Georgia went blue? Yet the actual liberal states, such as California, New York, and Washington, along with the entire Pacific Northwest, have absolutely no say in deciding who they want as the liberal nominee—that power is entirely given to the South.

The primary system works well initially. Giving smaller states such as Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina the ability to vote first and have a significant voice in the political conversation reflects the best aspects of our democracy.

Yet after these four, the states that vote should be randomized—Super Tuesday should not include this swath of delegate-heavy Southern states that skew the narrative so that it is impossible for any candidate to catch up.

The issues with our primary system are endless. For the Democrats, the fact that it uses superdelegates in favor of the establishment, in order to potentially change the population-chosen nominee works against the fundamental tenets of democracy. For the Republicans, their winner-take-all policies allow monsters such as Trump to triumph and continue on unopposed, rather than give voters who voted for another candidate a say with proportional delegates.

Bottom line, it's a problem when candidates are written off after a mere 30 percent of the American states vote. 70 percent of these upcoming states will have little to no say in deciding who the Democratic or Republican nominee is going to be—and that’s a terrible thing for a democracy. 

Banner Image Credit: Twitter, @CNN

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