The US Presidential election is certainly unique. While most countries are content with their version of proportional representation, or blissfully oblivious to the fact that first past the post doesn’t work, America upholds the tradition of holding separate elections for its legislature and executive branches of government. However, as s0meone who has been following this year’s primaries incredibly closely, there are some unbelievably stupid elements within the process.
- Superdelegates: Superdelegates are a mechanic that, in their pure form, heavily influences the Democratic Party primaries. A superdelegate is an unelected individual given a ‘free vote’ at the Democratic Party convention who is free to back any candidate they wish. As I’m sure you’ve worked out, this means that could potentially edge out a rival in a close pledged delegates race by having the bigger proportion of superdelegates. The real problem is that superdelegates are usually part of the party establishment, meaning that the party elite can put an end to a potential ‘insurgency’. In essence, superdelegates are a way for the Democratic Party to keep a handle on its presidential nomination election process.
- Caucuses: There are two types of primary- primary and caucus. While primaries are your typical ‘cast a ballot’ affair, a caucus requires you to go to a specific place and rally with the other supporters of your preferred candidate. Each candidate’s supporters are then tallied and this determines the winner. Can you see the problems?
- This is really inconvenient for people with families, jobs, just lives in general. And before you snarkily reply, just remember that employers don’t give time off to allow their employees to vote, or in this case, caucus.
- Turnout can be incredibly low- take the recent Washington caucus as an example. Washington State’s Garfield County has a population of around 2600 and even if you subtract people underage of the 18 and those ineligible to vote, it is still ridiculous that a total of 5 people participated in the caucus. How is that representative of the voting population?
Caucuses are an ineffective way to determine a state’s pledged delegates. Just bite the bullet and have a ballot vote primary.
- Calling the election after 3% of the vote: The media does this weird thing where they will call a state’s primary after less than 5% of the state has reported. While they claim this is based on exit polls and trends, just no. In recent days, they have held off on reporting but it isn’t out of respect for media neutrality:
- People complained that, as they waited in line for the Arizona Democratic primary, they had journalists coming up to them and telling them that Hilary had already won. At the very least this is bad journalism but at its worst? Isn’t this the media trying to deter people from voting: “Why waste your time waiting in line? X has already won! Your vote won’t matter.”
- It looks really bad when they get it wrong. It doesn’t happen often but sometimes the call is wrong. Michigan earlier this year is a great example of this with ABC calling the race for Hilary after Detroit reported, despite the fact that Hilary wasn’t actually winning at the time.
Calling the primary early in the reporting stage is just a lazy to turn attention to a more ‘interesting’ story…such as an empty podium at a Trump rally.
Are you following the election? Are there any elements that you find particularly stupid?