Thad Cochran’s Victory and the Primary Process
Posted on June 30, 2014
Originally Posted In The Wall Street Journal
Democrats voted against Eric Cantor and the tea party cheered. Democrats voted for Thad Cochran and the tea party cried foul.
- Republican leaders shouldn’t be comforted by either result.
Each state crafts its own election rules. Some states have closed primaries; in New York, you have to register as a Republican if you want to vote as a Republican. Other states, including Mississippiand Virginia, have open primaries, so you don’t necessarily have to be a Republican to vote in a Republican primary.
And still other states, such as Louisiana and California, have what some call “jungle primaries,” where everybody votes in the same election and the top two vote-getters face each other, regardless of party.
In some states, the parties use conventions to pick their candidates. This can give more power to party elders, as has happened in Iowa, and sometimes gives more power to activists, as inVirginia in 2013.
In closed primaries, the most extreme candidates win. In jungle primaries, the most popular candidates win. In open primaries, the most games are played.
The goal of an election should be to pick the most qualified, most able and most representative candidate, according to the wishes of the majority of voters. Jungle primaries best accomplish that goal.