Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 01-02-2020, 09:08 PM
Hari Seldon is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Trantor
Posts: 13,443

How can primaries be made to work?


It seems obvious to me that US primaries are broken. They often wind up nominating extreme candidates because too many ordinary people don't vote. David Leonhardt, op-ed columnist wrote a column last week advocating ranked choice voting for the primaries. This is a good idea but won't solve the problem of low turnout. Is there any way to fix that?
  #2  
Old 01-02-2020, 09:28 PM
Wesley Clark is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 22,889
For legislative elections like the house, eliminating gerrymandering will help because it reduces the incentive to pick the most ideologically extreme candidate since they will lose a general.
__________________
Sometimes I doubt your commitment to sparkle motion
  #3  
Old 01-02-2020, 09:29 PM
dalej42 is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Chicago
Posts: 15,317
What extreme candidates have they nominated?

Id suggest the Republicans eliminate their winner take all and winner take most primaries in 2024, this would prevent a future candidate from racking up delegates like Trump did by winning a small plurality.
__________________
Twitter:@Stardales IG:@Dalej42
  #4  
Old 01-02-2020, 09:40 PM
Kent Clark's Avatar
Kent Clark is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Posts: 27,387
You can't make anything work if people don't want to vote.

The turnout in the 2018 midterms was the highest since 1914. It didn't even hit 50% of registered voters. Why would you expect high turnout in a primary election?
  #5  
Old 01-02-2020, 10:41 PM
Sage Rat's Avatar
Sage Rat is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Howdy
Posts: 22,470
Ranked voting, based on my simulations, actually make things worse in this respect.

https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...9&postcount=64
  #6  
Old 01-02-2020, 11:11 PM
Sage Rat's Avatar
Sage Rat is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Howdy
Posts: 22,470
I would say that the problem to-date has been that there has been a very single-minded strategy for dealing with corruption. The people don't like "backroom deals" where you find out that everyone on the ballot is someone who has done "financial favors" for the local party boss, or whatever. And the solution that the parties have offered is "Democracy". No backroom, deal, we let you pick us completely fair and square.

To not get off topic, we'll just assume that that intent was put in by the occasional honest candidate with completely honest intentions to clean things up. I would say that it's probably more likely that the FBI has had more to do with cutting down political corruption, but that's also off topic. The salient point is that the People vote for "pizza every day for lunch" and "the home team" - they're just people. They go to sports bars, whistle at chicks on the street, gab with their nail stylist about Hollywood celebrities, etc. The People aren't economists or traffic pattern experts, nor experts in the Constitution, nor the law. They're just people and the parties have falsely spread the idea that the People are supposed to vote on policy, not on an anti-corruption mandate.

I'm willing to say that there may well have been honest and genuine intent in opening things up to the people more, but the reality is just this.

But, at the same time, that doesn't mean that the "backroom deal" methodology is the only other alternative.

There are actually innumerable tweaks, it's just that it's hard for people to break out of the "DEMOCRACYYYYYYYYYY" paradigm and only trying to think in terms of inclusion or how to be corrupt themselves and game the system in some way (forcing the candidates to vote how they are told to, etc.)

Here's a handful of options, many or most of which would improve the situation, but I could probably come up with 50 - 60 given enough time and some free lunches. More importantly is just the idea of going wide and ignoring reality. Work back to reality once you've got a diversity of options and can spot what the trends are.

1) Grab some random people. Ask them if they're willing to do it. After they've been working together for a few weeks, allow them to vote to boot a few members.
2) Grab a small number of random people, tell them they're the hiring panel. Let the parties submit a few candidates, and allow the hiring panel to choose.
3) Gerrymander for "competitiveness". If the party primary puts up a candidate who isn't broadly acceptable, they will not win.
4) Don't let the candidates talk. They can only write and they must debate via the written word.
5) The primary is a headhunting expedition. Split into groups, find candidates and bring them in for a big quiz session by the people.
6) Each state is randomly paired up with states geographically distant from themselves. Random congressmen from the other state will interview candidates and use ranked voting to elect one.
7) Jungle primaries.
8) Each district primaries its own candidate. All of them go up.

And so on.

Last edited by Sage Rat; 01-02-2020 at 11:13 PM.
  #7  
Old 01-03-2020, 02:01 PM
That Don Guy's Avatar
That Don Guy is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 4,778
"Work" at what level?

Below Presidential? I say, get rid of them. Louisiana seemed to do just fine without them (at least in House elections) for decades, and California does something similar, although I would add a "if you get a majority of the vote in the primary, you are elected automatically" condition to them, rather than the current, "The top two always advance to the general election."

Presidential level? I'm not entirely sure that you can. Even if there are "regional" primaries (and the Democrats give bonus delegates for states that get together to do this), or "all primaries are on the same day/week," there will always be some states that realize that it's not about the delegates, but about the momentum ("Attention other states: anybody who doesn't do well in our 'straw poll' is obviously unelectable!"), and will hold early votes even if they don't "count."
  #8  
Old 01-03-2020, 02:07 PM
Bijou Drains is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 10,232
they always talk about not giving so much weight to Iowa and NH but nothing ever changes.
  #9  
Old 01-03-2020, 03:01 PM
Dr_Paprika is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: South of Toronto, Canada
Posts: 4,242
Not for me to criticize another countries policies.

But if the primaries are broken — it is worth saying what this means. I would argue (1) there are too many candidates with no chance of winning (2) unsuitable but popular candidates can’t be eliminated (3) certain states might have too much influence (4) the resulting candidate might not reflect party policies (5) the resulting candidate might not be likely to win overall (6) it is costly and damaging to run a four-year continuous re-election campaign (7) people and groups have too much or too little influence (8) etc., etc.
__________________
"A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man"
  #10  
Old 01-03-2020, 03:12 PM
Dr_Paprika is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: South of Toronto, Canada
Posts: 4,242
1. Too many candidates is a big problem for the Democrats. Many stand no chance. It further divides a party only 44% of Americans think is interested in them. It robs better candidates of exposure and debate time. Lower candidates criticize more popular ones which alienates some voters and can be used in opposition campaigns. Better to weed much more quickly.

2. Eye of the beholder. There should be conditions, maybe, that the candidate is a long time party member, pledges to obey the law, and is on some level obligated to take advice from party officials. Trump used new methods of winning and remains pretty popular in his party. Tough to balance democracy and fairness with sour grapes.

3. Not sure enough about how Iowa etc. got to go first, or the benefits and drawbacks.

4. Maybe a supercommittee could vet candidates and ask for proof of party membership. I dunno.

5. Hard one. Maybe encouraging party divisions is highly damaging?

6. A continuous election campaign is good for the media, maybe. Costs a fortune, stops government from concentrating on policy, causes short term thinking that avoids hard decisions. Generally very bad, expensive, and almost every country currently does better at this problem, though this is changing.

7. “Where you stand depends on where you sit.”
__________________
"A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man"

Last edited by Dr_Paprika; 01-03-2020 at 03:12 PM.
  #11  
Old 01-04-2020, 01:54 PM
duality72 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 1,447
Get rid of them. Switch to acceptance voting or delegative democracy.
  #12  
Old 01-06-2020, 10:04 AM
Red Wiggler is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 2,073
First, here's what Drew Magary, late of Deadspin, thinks about the Iowa caucuses.

A more logical approach would appeal to me, understanding that a party would have to do an end run around the current power of the states to regulate their own primaries. I'd like to see a series of five primaries, with the ten states who contributed the fewest amount of votes for the party in question going first, followed by the next group of ten. To illustrate, the first round of primaries would feature the likes of Wyoming and Rhode Island while the final primary would feature the ten largest states, California, Texas, Florida, etc.

Each primary would use approval voting and the bottom 20% of vote getters in each round would be eliminated from future primaries. I haven't decided yet whether votes would accumulate from round to round for the purposes of elimination or whether each primary's results should stand alone.

Of course this is just an idle daydream because very little in our system of elections uses optimal methods and vested interests are dedicated to keeping it that way.
  #13  
Old 01-06-2020, 03:16 PM
dtilque is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: My own private Nogero
Posts: 7,433
If it's just a matter of increasing turnout, there is one way that'll do it. (Jumping on one of my hobby horses here...) Install 100% vote-by-mail. It doesn't usually increase voting percentage all that much in the general, but it does for other elections, since it makes it easier to vote. You get more voters who would otherwise only vote in the general.

I'm not sure that a reorganization of which states vote when might not help things. At least it might create more interest in primary elections in states other than the few who always go first. Create 6, 7 or 8 regional primaries with a close to equal number of states in each. And then rotate them from election to election, so that a different region goes first each time. The rest of the regions follow in 2 or 3 week intervals.
  #14  
Old 01-06-2020, 10:45 PM
Bryan Ekers's Avatar
Bryan Ekers is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Montreal, QC
Posts: 59,727
Adding a Thunderdome element couldn't hurt.

Well, except for the candidates that get hurt, of course.
__________________
Don't worry about the end of Inception. We have top men working on it right now. Top. Men.
  #15  
Old 01-07-2020, 03:40 PM
bump is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 19,009
The fundamental gotcha with the primary system is that the primaries are in essence, intra-party elections, that the general public can usually vote in.

So what you end up with is an election where only the motivated party faithful are interested in voting, and often the more wing-nutty parts of the parties are the most motivated. This means that more party-acceptable candidates tend to get elected by the primaries than would otherwise be elected by the general public.

I'd think one way to get around it might be to have some sort of culling process early on in the process prior to the actual primaries- maybe like a candidate "Combine" (to use an NFL analogy), where maybe professional party wonks would narrow down the field to a manageable number early on, and then the primary season would start with a max of 4 candidates.
  #16  
Old 01-08-2020, 08:28 AM
UnwittingAmericans is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 386
Do them all on the same day. If nobody gets 50%+1, well, that's what the convention is supposed to be for. Make some fuckin' deals, that's politics.

If they're all on the same day, nobody's gonna give a shit about straw polls.
  #17  
Old 01-08-2020, 09:24 AM
Fiddle Peghead's Avatar
Fiddle Peghead is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Harlem, New York, NY
Posts: 4,592
Quote:
Originally Posted by UnwittingAmericans View Post
Do them all on the same day. If nobody gets 50%+1, well, that's what the convention is supposed to be for. Make some fuckin' deals, that's politics.

If they're all on the same day, nobody's gonna give a shit about straw polls.
I came in to post something similar, but think doing them ALL on the same day is unworkable, one of the reasons being what you suggest above. Having to decide the nominee among 10 or whatever number of candidates at the convention would take away the power of individual voters. But how about, say, 10 primary days, each having votes in 5 geographically dispersed states. Or making the current super Tuesday the first primary, with a revolving set of states for each election. Something to take away the ridiculous influence Iowa and New Hampshire have.
  #18  
Old 01-08-2020, 09:48 AM
BrotherCadfael is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Vermont
Posts: 10,410
I have said this several times before, but what we need to do is to bring back the "smoke-filled room".



Primaries have their place, but, before they happen, the party elders ought to get together, out of the public view, and vet a half-dozen competent, electable candidates. These would be put forth into the primaries for the public to choose from.


This would eliminate extremists, vanity candidates, reality show stars, talk show hosts, etc.
  #19  
Old 01-08-2020, 02:19 PM
Hari Seldon is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Trantor
Posts: 13,443
Reading all the replies leaves me with one clear thought for all non-presidential elections. Get rid of the primary elections and substitute a two-round system. If you want to call it a jungle primary, go ahead, but it is really a 2-stage general election. And yes, if someone gets > 50% of the vote, skip the second round and declare them the winner. So that it is clear that this is the real election.

The presidential is the only national election and it would be harder to deal with. First you have to get rid of the electoral college. AFAIK, no other country has ever used such a bizarre electoral system. If that were done (don't hold your breath), then a 2 stage system could well be implemented.
  #20  
Old 01-08-2020, 02:52 PM
That Don Guy's Avatar
That Don Guy is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 4,778
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrotherCadfael View Post
I have said this several times before, but what we need to do is to bring back the "smoke-filled room".
Too many people think that (a) the smoke-filled room still exists, and (b) it is why Bernie Sanders is not currently President.

Wasn't "maintaining the smoke-filled room" pretty much the sole reason Superdelegates existed (and will return if the pledged delegates can't come up with a majority decision)?
  #21  
Old 01-08-2020, 03:22 PM
BrotherCadfael is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Vermont
Posts: 10,410
Quote:
Originally Posted by That Don Guy View Post
Too many people think that (a) the smoke-filled room still exists, and (b) it is why Bernie Sanders is not currently President.

Wasn't "maintaining the smoke-filled room" pretty much the sole reason Superdelegates existed (and will return if the pledged delegates can't come up with a majority decision)?
But the SuperDelegates were at the end of the process. You need the smoke-filled room at the start of the process, to ensure a pool of qualified and acceptable candidates. Yes, that might have excluded Bernie, but having Bernie as the candidate would pretty much hand the election to the other party.
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:41 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2019 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017