United States

Mar 8, 2012

US primaries an arms race between states

In the wake of Super Tuesday, what does the gruelling primaries process tell us about the Republican Party and the state of democracy in America?

Charles Richardson — Editor of The World is not Enough

Charles Richardson

Editor of The World is not Enough

Super Tuesday has been run and won; Mitt Romney continues on his somewhat unsteady road to the Republican nomination. It’s a good opportunity to step back a bit and see what the process is telling us about the Republican Party and the state of democracy in America.

Primary contests can be thought of as a sort of arms race — not between candidates, but between states. Each state wants to maximise its influence: that means allocating its delegates on a winner-take-all basis so candidates will find it worth more effort to compete, and holding its primary as early as possible while the contest is still fluid.

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8 thoughts on “US primaries an arms race between states

  1. Peter Ormonde

    Have you noticed how white these self-congratulatory “democracy fests” are? The only place you see a black or hispanic face is on the stage … a token presence for the cameras.

    I still can’t anyone at all who professes an interest in this sludge to give me any real difference between the contenders… the trick it seems is to be as similar as possible – but more god-fearing, more patriotic, more apple pie than the other two. Good teeth, a nice haircut a photogenic family and no history of major scandals with illegal housemaids…

    It’s about marketing – packaging – rather than politics. All box but no cereal. Like the X Factor but with less singing and dancing. Even the journalists covering the thing seem incapable of injecting any political or policy content into the circus. It’s about votes and winning – not about ideas. And that is deliberate.

    And it escapes me why anyone – anyone at all – is interested in it.

    It’s about time they actually finished the Civil War don’t you reckon?

  2. Arty

    It’s about power.
    All politics is about power, but dressed up in other clothes.

  3. Peter Ormonde


    Power comes dressed up in funny hats apparently.

    Now speaking of a war between the states… let’s get serious. Wyoming has been considering setting up a task force to look at what to do in the event of the USofA imploding or being taken over by aliens or some such. Sadly the bill was defeated 30-27 last month.

    The proposal – originating in the more cerebral elements of the Republican dominated legislature – was to examine coining their own currency and buying a few fighter aircraft and possibly an aircraft carrier. This raises some issues since Wyoming – at present – has no seaboard. Totally landlocked. Smack bang where the US would have an armpit.

    I’m not sure whether the idea was to expand east or west to the beach through some sort of anschluss with its neighbours or just stick the thing on a lake somewhere. But I very much doubt it was flattening Canada that they had in mind. I’d reckon they’d be looking at a pre-emptive strike on San Francisco myself… keep them queers, hippies and showbiz types out of town. Maybe take out the Mormons in Utah on the way through.

    Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first drive mad.

    Euripedes was supposed to have said that. But he didn’t. It was another O’Bama lie.

    Power and funny hats … a dangerous combination… especially when they’re made of alfoil.

  4. Edward James

    I believe that perhaps fifty percent of peoples who fill out a ballot paper, would if they were capable of focusing in common cause, change the way we Australians are represented. So many voters would rather fight than actually become involved in discussing ways to exercise their votes, which would very quickly change the face of politics by purging dead wood politicians who are all about the party while trampling their constituents. Bread and circus a distraction for the masses which Peter O mentions, has been around for thousands of years. Astroturfing explained by the very instructive for me link AR posted on another string. Reminds me of how our local councils use our rates money to buy the influence of hard working community groups. It is many years since a News Limited publication used half a page above the fold to make fun of my reading Machiavelli the “Prince” in an effort to understand a little better the way politics works. Perhaps I am a bit of a dreamer but I really do miss the old days of Crikey.com Edward James

  5. Gavin Moodie

    I find it extraordinary that so few in the US seem to support:

    1 citizen = 1 vote = 1 value.

    And even if it is supported in principle there seems to be so little acknowledgement that the principle can be implemented only by an independent electoral commission, or if you want to be ‘states rights’ about it, by 50 independent electoral commissions.

  6. Jimmy

    The US system is a joke, the amount of money spent just to become mayor of New York is ridiculous let alone the millions being spent byt he republicans just for the honour of running for president.

    Throw in the fact that in Ohio Santorum apparently didn’t get on the ballot in all districts and Santorum & Gingrich didn’t get on the ballot at all in Virginia (when surely the system should be you say you are running for president and you automatically get on every ballot) and that candidates drop out along the way and every state has a different way of voting, counting the votes and distributing the delegates and it’s clealry a mess.

    How hard would it be to have a set campaign phase then every state votes on the same day, using the same method, with the same sytem of delegates and at the end of the day you get a winner!

  7. animaldander

    i can’t believe how much i keep hearing about the #$#$”n U.S election! sure, they are one of the most influential powers and it’s nice to know what the big bully is doing next but really! lets just wait and see who wins and print that instead of this blow by blow account of why the republican party is retarded. Ask some americans where australia is and they won’t even be able to tell you, and it’s not because they are dumb – it’s because no one gives a toss about australia or what we think. So lets not be such sycophants to the worst country in the world by impressing our dinner guests with how much we know about the U.S primaries (and how little we know about policies being passed under our noses in canberra) it’s so embarrassing to hear it in every news break on “RN”. i bet it’s all over free to air tv too.
    just ignore it and talk to your loved ones.

  8. AR

    Meanwhile those damned Dakotans…

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