Open Primaries

I was looking at a NH poll today showing Mayor Giuliani lagging behind Romney– which was a bummer as Hizzoner had tightened things up there during the last round of polls– and saw that the bulk of independent voters in NH still aren’t sure which primary they’ll vote in.

They get to make that choice as NH has an open primary: You don’t have to be registered as a member of the same party in who’s primary you’d like to cast a ballot.  I think this bodes will for Giuliani.  The GOP race will be more comeptitive, and hence should draw more independent voters.  I bet Giuliani is very strong with that crowd.  I have not seen commentary regarding this.

As a matter of theory I don’t know how I feel about this.  On the one hand, we are a de facto two party system, if not a de jure one.  I used to be a registered libertarian, and one of the main reasons I now am a registered member of the GOP– and now a ward leader– was I became sick of having no voice in the primaries.  It was a real bummer to be unable to cast a ballot against Arlen Specter…

On the other hand, though, political parties are private organizations.  Now, I think it might be difficult for the Dems to restrict their primary to only illegal immigrants, and for the GOP to restrict theirs to men named Cleetus.  Still, as private organizations I instinctively support their rights to handle their affairs however they want.

I do wonder, though, if Giuliani’s fight for the GOP nod would pretty much be fait accompli if all states had open primaries.  It would certainly be the case here in the Commonwealth of PA.

It’s a problem as old as the GOP, actually.  The primaries are the place where minority factions carry the most water.  But does this end up giving us the best possible candidates for a general election?  Ronald Reagans aren’t very commonplace…

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7 Comments

Filed under Arlen Specter, Federalism, Hillary, Hillary Clinton, Libertarian, PA Support, Polling, Primaries, Romney, Rudy, Rudy Giuliani

7 responses to “Open Primaries

  1. Actually, an open New Hampshire primary bodes very well for McCain. There are going to be any number of nay-sayers to that theory, but there was seven years ago, too. The polling had Big John way back.

    Turns out that they don’t much like a front-runner in the Granite State. And they like media polling even less.

    Then a funny thing happened, Independents and Democrats voted in legendary numbers and Boy George got his ass-kicked. 19 points as I remember it. The same thing happened in Michigan, but that was after South Carolina, when it was too late.

    Oh, and the entire GOP establishment, from Governor Engler on down, was behind Bush. It was touted as a firewall for him.

    Here’s another interesting fact: Michigan comes before South Carolina this year. If McCain wins or places in NH, he almost certainly gets a bounce in Michigan.

    Then we have a whole new ballgame, as Rudy depends on a stupid strategy of “holding on” in Iowa, New Hampshire and ignoring Michigan entirely.

    Another neat fact, no Republican has ever lost both Iowa and New Hampshire and gone on to win the nomination.

  2. karlub - PA for Hizzoner

    I don’t disagree that NH could be rich soil for McCain. But are the independents who– with the credulous support of the MSM– saw McCain as a bold new voice *eight years ago* really going to pull that same lever for the same reasons this time around? I don’t think so.

    That leaves Giuliani. What’s the stereotype of a NH GOP voter? More libertarian? What’s Giuliani? A fiscally responsible, socially moderate republican. Now, Rudy’s no Libertarian, as a number of former squeegee men will attest. But I wager NH independents are more likely to vote Giuliani than reprise 2000.

  3. I disagree. Rightly or wrongly, Rudy is seen as the candidate of the Republican establishment. Independents sure won’t go for that, Democrats won’t, and conservatives nationally are leery of him already.

    It’ll be interesting what the Manchester Union Leader has to say about all of this when endorsement time comes, although they have a history of endorsing monsters like Tancredo.

    But I reckon there’s a reason that Giuliani is saving his wad for South Carolina.

  4. In an open primary, a party’s ballot is available to any voter who requests it. Michigan has open primaries, but New Hampshire has semi-closed primaries, in which independents may vote in either party’s primary, but party members must stick with their own parties.

    South Carolina and Iowa also have open primaries. It’s my understanding that, on caucus day, an Iowan can change his or her registration from one party to the other and participate in the caucus of his new party.

    In 2000, Sen. McCain won the Michigan primary, despite losing the Republican vote by 66% to 29%. In fact, McCain did not win the Republican vote in any primary that year.

  5. karlub - PA for Hizzoner

    I was unaware that MI had an open primary as well. If I’m right, this is looking better and better for Giuliani.

    As for Skippy’s remarks on Giuliani as the “establishment” candidate, I would point out things like the following: McCain has been in the Senate for a gazillion years. Mitt just smells like an establishment republican.

    Finally, for many an establishment republican is right on God, guns, and gays. We can debate to what degree Giuliani’s variances on these issues is correct, and how that does or doesn’t make him a good republican. One thing is for sure: If you were to go into a lab and create an establishment republican you would not end up with Giuliani. You would end up with the ’07 model of Romney.

    And the establishment apparatchiks all work for McCain and Romney, from what little I understand about that stuff.

  6. How one can call Giuliani “fiscally responsible” when he intends to not only continue a disastrous and hugely expensive war in Iraq, but expend it to Iran, which would be even more expensive, is beyond me.

  7. Steve,

    I would posit that doesn’t particularly matter if one wins a majority of Republican votes in winning the Republican primary. One would get the same number of convention delegates regardless of who the primary voters are.

    And Karlub, it difficult to judge Rudy’s positions on Republican primary issues, as they seem to change every three or four months.

    And it only gets better when Bernie Kerik gets himself indicted again. If things play out the way I think they they will, Giuliani will be the nominee just in time to be mortally wounded by all of the interesting things that may or may not come out in the trial of his police commissioner and the guy he recommended for Homeland Security.

    One can surmise that “tough on crime” might not be a winning slogan when your head cop and business parter is looking for a cellmate with soft hands. Christ, I’m surprised that Hillary isn’t wearing a “Rudy ’08” button yet.

    As to Big John and the Republican establishment, they loathe him. The only Republican in the Senate who will even talk to McCain in Lindsay Graham. Meanwhile, the party elite have spent the last three months fitting Rudy for a lioncloth and a cross so that they can better worship him without feeling like dirty pagans.

    Don’t get me wrong, Romney’s a dangerous stupid pigfucker with a nice suit a hair gel. His father was brainwashed by the military and he was apparently brainwashed by the goddamned J. Crew catalogue. An America governed by Mitt Romney is an America not worth saving from the Islamists.

    Although it is endlessly entertaining that they guy with a dozen wives is the Catholic candidate and the only one running still with the first wife is the fucking Mormon. Monica jokes are going to be in decidedly short supply in Minneapolis next summer…

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