America's electoral process - Primaries, should they still be used?

  • Created by: Amh
  • Created on: 27-12-12 11:23

America's electoral process - Primaries, should they still be used?


  • the main route to becoming a presidential nominee of a major party
  • important to gain finance, and recognition
  • primaries allow an increased selection of candidates to choose from
  • primaries open the process to allow outsiders in, moving away from 'smoke filled rooms' and party boses
  • Gruelling primaries e.g. Clinton V. Obama, are seen as an appropriate test for a candidate as a president
  • Power to the people


  • By openingthe process to outsiders, voters may take little time in coming to an illinformed decision
  • primaries encourage the party faithful, and therfore morelikley radicals. This results in the polarisation of candidates, eg Republican party Romney 2012
  • Democratic overload = widespread apathy and boredom
  • Primary voters are unrepresentative
  • An ardeous and long process
  • A very expensive process.
  • Dominated by media
  • Clearly develop into bitter personal battles
  • Presidential candidates are chosen by ordinary voters who know not or what qualities makes good president

Overall comparison

(Note similarities = advantages, differences = disadvantages, overall comparison = evaluation.)Primaries were bought about by the McGovern-Fraser commission reforms  in 1972. Which seeked to bring power back to the people and enhance an apathetic electorate by bringing power away from the party bosses. However with over 68000 elected offices in America, the last thing they needed was more elections, this was demonstrated by persistently low turnouts despite the initial bump from 11% to 21%. The figure now fluctuates lightly around the 30%mark. Figures this low clearly show that the candidates that emerge from these primaries are not necessarily the candidate preferred by American citizens as it's the party activists that have chosen them. This is dangerous because as shown by the 2012 and 2008 elections moderate republicans McCain, and Romney were pushed rightwards, to please influential members of the tea party and other significant donors such as pressure groups eg NRA. the reforms however were needed to move away from outdated caucuses, there is a suggestion now that we move forward to further reforms in the shape of Regional primaries - The country is split in 4, and dates a re rotates for the 1st Tuesday of Mar. Apr. May, Jun. Jul. for the North, south east and west. This was the plan forward by the Nation association of secretaries of state for 2012, however it was never used. The other potential method was to weight the votes for elected politicians at national party conventions TO BRING CONTROL BACK TO PARTIES, (THIS LINKS BACK TO PARTY REALIGNMENT), and increases peer review.  Or the most radical of the proposals, to bring in a 'pre-primary' convention to approve a list of candidates put forward by parties.


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