Nominating Presidents: An Evaluation of Voters and Primaries

By John G. Geer | Go to book overview
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8
A Proposal for Reform

The findings in this study present a mixed picture about how well voters in primaries choose presidential candidates. Under some conditions these participants prove to be weak selectors, yet under other conditions they appear to be capable decision-makers. Some of the problems confronting the current system arise not because of the inability of voters in primaries to choose candidates well, but because of the rules in the nominating system under which they operate. Both because of the weaknesses in some of the rules and because voters in primaries have at times been shown to be questionable decision-makers, especially when there is a large number of candidates, I shall consider possible changes in the nominating system. In this chapter I shall offer a proposal for reforming the presidential selection system that should increase the chances that voters in primaries will make better choices.


THE QUALIFICATIONS OF VOTERS IN PRIMARIES

The results of the previous chapters question the validity of many of the criticisms of voters in primaries. First, the complaint that too few voters turn out in primaries appears unwarranted. While turnout is not as high as in general elections, registered party voters participate in larger numbers when a contest becomes important to the selection process, suggesting that voters are not apathetic, as implied by the lower rates of participation, but instead respond to the potential decisiveness of each primary. Second, contrary to conventional wisdom, electorates in primaries are not better paid, better educated, or more ideologically extreme than the party following. In fact, just the reverse is true, though

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