PF – 2016 Nationals – Primary Election Process

Resolved: On balance, a one-day national primary would be more beneficial for the United States than our current presidential primary process.

While the Extemp Files does have an Elections folder with articles about the current election cycle, most of the articles are about the candidates rather than the process. There are a number of articles about primaries buried in the folder, but with several hundred articles about the election each month, the ones on the primary process can be a bit hard to find.

For that reason I’m making available my full Government folder, originally put together for teachers. It’s both current and backfiles all in one – it has the complete Elections folder. Of interest to this topic are the Democrats and Republicans folders; I often file articles in multiple locations (if they’re all relevant to the folder’s topic), and these folders are likely to have the articles specific to the primary process with fewer other articles cluttering up the search.

While this article isn’t necessarily quotable as evidence, the discussion brings up valid points that can still be used in a round.

A Debate Over Hillary vs Bernie – The Atlantic – caucus v primary discussion

A necessary historical perspective on why have our current system:

Pildes – Two myths about the unruly American primary system

The point about state-level party autonomy is worth considering:

Drezner – The good, the bad and the ugly of John Oliver’s rant against the nomination process

Republican issues:

George Will – The GOP needs new rules for picking its nominee

Reeling From 2016 Chaos, GOP Mulls Overhaul of Primaries

Lane – If the GOP had superdelegates, we might not be in this Trump mess

Democrat issues:

Is the Democratic Primary Really Rigged – The Atlantic

Democratic superdelegates – The villains of a ‘rigged’ system, according to Sanders’s supporters

Blow – The (Un)Democratic Party – Dem superdelegates

Roller – The Not So Super Delegates

What would happen if superdelegates had to vote for the candidate who won their state

Social choice theory:

Wolfers – Unusual Flavor of GOP Primary Illustrates a Famous Paradox – social choice theory and Condorcet’s paradox

Letter – The Merits of Approval Voting – social choice theory

To some extent, you can analyze this topic by playing the tape backwards – and seeing the parallels with the Electoral College. We don’t directly vote for the President – that office is filled by the person who gets the most votes in the Electoral College, based on a winner-take-all allocation by state. For primaries, the choice of a candidate doesn’t occur at the ballot box, but at the convention – and the PR value of that convention means that neither party is going to give it up as a platform for publicizing/glorifying that party’s candidate. So primary votes determine the delegate allocation for each state, and those delegates select the nominee (which is why some NeverTrump Republicans talked about the possibility of nominating someone who wasn’t in the primaries should their convention be contested).

So the question becomes one of the best way to select convention delegates. Primary? Caucus? State party convention? Key to delegate selection is how the votes are counted – proportional (see California’s Clinton/Sanders split), or winner-take-all by state (like the Electoral College)? If you have a huge field (17 Republican candidates at one point), could anyone get a majority regardless of counting method? If not (and relevant to a large field in a single-day primary), would you need to tally voter preferences past their primary choice so that a candidate could be determined without runoff votes?


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