23.Nominations

23.Nominations - Presidential Selection II Primaries...

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Unformatted text preview: Presidential Selection II: Primaries, Caucuses, etc. 1 Parties and Nominations Imagine a different world where we had party conventions choose presidential nominees. Delegates, say state party officials, Members of Congress, etc. would go to convention free to do whatever they wish. Would we get the same sort of candidates as we actually get from our com- plicated primary-caucus-convention system? Would we have had Clinton v. Dole in 1996? Probably not. More likely a system run by pros would have produced say Clinton v. Colin Powell, who was generally the Republican most likely to have beaten Clinton. But the reason that Powell did not run and did not win was not the personal considerations he claimed, but rather the structure of a nominating system that made it impossible for a moderate such as Powell to win the nomination, even though he was the most likely winner in November. Al Gore also would probably not have been the candidate of the Democratic party in 2000. For Kerry in 2004 it is not so clear. The why? is the point of this lecture. 2 The Role of Parties The fundamental role of political parties is to nominate candidates; to decide what kind of candidates the voters will choose from. Most observers don’t think they do it well. I remember no presidential elec- tion in which it was not said by large numbers of people that the choice they faced was between two mediocrities—lesser of evils. 1 Partly that is just short historical perspective; we forget that we have said the same thing about all previous elections (and we’ll say it again in 2012). But partly it is true in an objective sense. Our candidates are not “best” in absolute sense • Not most popular • Not even most electable • Not most typical of their party. What are they “most” of? Most suited to winning a peculiar two-stage contest, distorted by the funny mathematics of the electoral college at the second stage, but even more by 51 varied and changing sets of rules at the first. 3 Basics First Presidential candidates are nominated by party conventions. Since parties were not anticipated in Constitution, there are no provisions for how such a process might work. The Constitution first Who Controls the Process? The parties themselves do. And the rules under which Democrats and Republicans work are different. We have two presidential nominating systems, not one. There are no national election laws to speak of, and parties are essentially unregulated private groups. 2 So we have no fixed structure for this process. What we have instead is historical experiments, in which certain forms and practices have emerged— and they have gradually been recognized in state ballot access laws....
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23.Nominations - Presidential Selection II Primaries...

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