Assess the advantages & disadvantages of primaries and caucuses. (30 marks)

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  • adv. & disadv. of primaries & caucuses
    • dominated by extreme voters
      • voters in primaries usually old, white, affluent, educated & ideological
      • centralist candidates under pressure to appeal to more extremist candidates
      • dems. move to the left & repubs. move to the right during primary season
      • undermines pluralist democracy & promotes elitism
      • lead to candidate selected infringing on civil rights
      • put off minority voters causing apathy & low turnout
    • low turnout
      • only 30% of electorate turned out to 2008 primaries
        • record high
        • 2016 was 28.5%
      • 2008 Iowa had a record turnout of 16.3% (x8 the average)
      • gives winner less of a mandate, legitimacy & authority
      • undermines democracy
    • dominated by the wealthiest candidates
      • large war chests needed fro momentum
      • unfair on less wealthy candidates
      • poor are less underrepresented
      • may be seen as corrupt
      • 2007 invisible primary H. Clinton raised $90m & Obama raised $70m
    • too long due to front loading
      • increasing number of states schedule their primaries earlier
      • winner of primaries decided before certain states get to vote
      • Feb 5th 2008, 55% delegates in Ds & Rs chosen
      • leads to permanent campaigns
      • low turnout as unfair on later states
      • puts too much importance on early, unrepresentative states which is undemocratic
      • leads to exhausted candidates
    • highly democratic
      • democratic compared to earlier selection process
      • direct choice in candidate
      • opens process to candidates who wouldn't have been chosen by party bosses
        • Obama (2008), Clinton (1992) & Carter (1976)
      • reduced chance of corruption and apathy
      • upholds pluralist democracy
      • bandwagon effect
      • style over substance effect
    • good at showing who the best candidates are
      • weed out unsuitable candidates
        • stamina
        • fundraising
        • oratorical skills
      • more suitable nominee
      • candidate likely to be a better president as a result
      • wealthiest rather than best candidate often wins
      • best in primaries may not be best president


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