Paper on Primaries

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Presidential Primaries are state-based elections to choose a party's candidate for presidency. It
allows candidates to show support for delegates and then for them to vote in a national convention.
A caucus on the other hand is a series of state-based elections for the selection on party candidates
for presidency. They are held in geographically large, thinly populated states and attract low turnout.
The most significant advantage of primaries is that they extend the democratic process in the USA;
by enabling the people become more involved in decision making, and giving them a greater
influence in the selection of representatives. Post 1968, these candidates would be chosen by Party
bosses in `smoke-filled' rooms, which led to undemocratic choices being made. This was particularly
shown through the appointment of Huber Humphrey by the Democrat bosses; his case was
significant because he managed to win the nomination, without attending any of the primaries that
had been held. This led to the McGovern-Fraser acts. The fact that party bosses have less power,
demonstrates how representative democracy is being improved, by allowing candidates to vote for
the candidate that they would find to be most suitable.
Also, primaries also increase the ability for the electorate to increase political participation, by
enabling them to vote in yet another election. This has the possibility of increasing voter turnout,
which it has achieved to an extent, with the turnout in New Hampshire being a record-breaking, 60%
in 2008 for registered voters. This indicates that primaries are able to increase political participation,
by increasing voter turnout. So due to their democratic nature, they are advantageous to the US
political system.
This also enabled `outside' candidates to run who may not have been able to before, due to not
having enough influence within the party or a connection to the bosses. Candidates such as Obama
and McCain would not have had the opportunity to run. In 1976, when Carter was able to run, he only
had 2% name recognition, revealing the extent to which the political system was changed with the
eradication of party bosses, yet notably. Therefore, by opening up the process, more candidates to
join the race who may have been disclosed in the past, this was shown an increase from 5
presidential candidates running in 1968 to 7 Republicans running in the 2012 election.
The long vigorous progress can be efficient in detecting who the most able candidates are, as those
who are unable to take the vigorous process of the Primaries, are going to be highly unlikely to be
able to withstand the tough competition that will be involved in running for presidency or later as the
actual President. This was particularly the case with Paul Tsongas in 1992, a candidate running for
presidency, whilst his policies were popular, his health was deteriorating, and this was evident
through the process of the primaries. This enabled, the electorate to realise that whilst he may have
proposed policies that they would agree with, he clearly didn't have the stamina for the required job.
As a result, they were able to instead choose another candidate who appeared able to carry out such
a strenuous candidate, and the best man for the job was chosen.
In addition, the primaries also tend to prepare candidates for the General Elections, if they are very
competitive (as was the case with Hillary Clinton against Obama in 2010) then candidates will have
sharpened up their campaigns and a more vigorous election can be expected.
The main criticism placed forward regarding Primaries is that they are essentially money races',
however; this can be disputed, as it can be argued that the wealthiest candidates are not guaranteed
success. This was evident within the campaign of Steve Forbes in 2000, he spent $40 million, yet
failed secure a winning position in any of the primaries. There was also the case of Mitt Romney in
2008, where he spent $85, 000 a day on TV ads in New Hampshire and Iowa, yet failed to secure the
votes of their delegates. Thus revealing, that there are other characteristics required from a

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Due to this
reason, the case against of the wealthiest candidates securing success can be disputed.
Conversely, the arguments proposed can be disputed by the fact that Primaries are not politically
representative of the voting population. The candidates running for election tend to be very similar
within political parties, or very different between parties.…read more


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