Trump, Bernie, and the Primary Process In 2016
Presidential primaries are the selection process to determine which candidate will appear on the ballot for a given political party in the nationwide general election. At the national convention, the delegates of the parties choose who they want to run for President. Delegates to the national convention are chosen at the state level meaning that there are significant differences state to state, year to year. The two methods for choosing delegates to the national convention are the caucus and the primary.
In states that hold caucuses a political party announces the date, time, and location of the meeting which generally any voter registered with the party may attend. At the caucus, delegates are chosen to represent the state’s interests at the national party convention. Prospective delegates are identified as favorable to a specific candidate or uncommitted. After discussion and debate an informal vote is taken to determine which delegates should be chosen.
In a primary election, registered voters may participate in choosing the candidate for the party’s nomination by voting through secret ballot, as in a general election. Primaries are either closed or open, and determine who is eligible to vote in them.
Closed primaries have registered voters voting only in the election for the party with which that voter is affiliated. A Democrat can vote only in the Democratic primary and a Republican can vote only in the Republican primary.
Open primaries have registered voters voting in either primary regardless of party membership. Voters cannot, however, participate in more than one primary.
A combination of the primary and caucus systems are used in certain states where the primary serves as a measure of public opinion but is not binding in choosing delegates. The Parties reserve and at times exercise the right to not not recognize open primaries because members of other parties are permitted to vote.
It can list candidate or delegate names. The presidential preference primary is a direct vote for a specific candidate chosen by name. Giving the voter a choice among delegate names rather than candidate names is more indirect for delegates voice support for a particular candidate or remain uncommitted.
The Democratic Party always uses a proportional method for awarding delegates. The percentage of delegates each candidate is awarded (or the number of undecided delegates) is representative of the mood of the caucus-goers or the number of primary votes for the candidate.
The Republican Party allows each state to decide whether to use the winner-take-all method or the proportional method. In the winner-take-all method the candidate whom the majority of caucus participants or voters support receives all the delegates for the state.
Party delegates choose who they want on the ballot for President at the convention, not voters. In caucus states, the party chooses the delegates they want to represent their states in choosing the President. Primary states have voters directly voting for the candidate solely intra-party in closed primaries, or cross party in open primaries. On the ballot itself, voters choose either the candidates themselves, or choose the delegates depending upon the state. Democrats award their delegates proportionally by vote while Republicans give states the choice of proportional or winner takes all. Of course the delegates are always free to change their minds at the convention.
Primaries are about party. Candidates who fundraise, campaign and support those within the party have the best chance to pickup delegates or sway loyal party voters.
On the Democratic side, no entity has done more to fundraise, support, and campaign for Democratic candidates within the Democratic Party than the Clintons. This is why she is an overwhelming favorite. It’s not because of popular voter support. It’s because she has the most sway with the party’s delegates. Obama was able to upend that by nationalizing the Chicago machine due to his unique candidacy as the first black President inspiring people into the primary process that normally do not turn out. This convinced delegates that he had the money and operational infrastructure to win and help them win. For Sanders or Biden to win the nomination, they will have to convince those delegates they have those same traits. Seeing that Bernie’s whole candidacy is about not compromising or making deals, I don’t see how that can happen. In other words, Obama played the game with a team (Valerie Jarratt, David Plouffe, David Axelrod, Bill Burton) who was more than eager to play. Bernie doesn’t even want to play the game. At best he wants to change the rules. He has been a vocal critic of the Democratic Party. I don’t know why people think the Party would have him represent them.
The Republican Primary is more difficult due to the sheer number of candidates, but the same principle holds. While the Bush name is not popular amongst the people. the delegates in the GOP have received plenty of Bush money, organization and infrastructure for their own campaigns. This is why Jeb is still the favorite. The wildcard is that Trump has a clear plurality of the support of the base, but loses to Clinton and Sanders in a hypothetical general election by 20 plus points. The GOP does not want to see Trump win this primary because they want to win the presidency. They are already starting to organize against him at the state level. I can’t stress this enough. Primaries are about delegates. Not you.