by Sarah Durand | January 19, 2012 6:29 pm
The 2008 Republican Party presidential primary left many Republicans scratching their heads, wondering how Senator John McCain ended up with the nomination.: One would think that after President George W. Bush nearly destroyed the Republican Party with his government-expanding, big spending ways, Republicans would choose a more Reaganesque conservative.: Yet,: Senator McCain was the least conservative, embodying everything wrong with George W. Bush, while lacking Bush’s redeeming qualities.: Instead, McCain ran as a self-described “maverick,” which is a nicer way of saying he’s a RINO who often votes with the Democrats.
Because McCain was seen as a moderate, or liberal in some circles, he was less than energizing for the party.: Conservatives donate money, not the moderates McCain catered to, so fundraising became an issue.: At the time, many voters saw very little difference between Obama and McCain–that was before Americans discovered Obama was a full-fledged socialist.: Inescapably, McCain lost his presidential bid.
Although you’d think Republicans would have learned from the 2008 John McCain mistake, the party is going down the same road in 2012 with Mitt Romney.: Mitt Romney is the farthest left candidate on the Republican ticket, yet he is on the path to victory–and has even been deemed the inevitable winner.
So, how can conservative Republicans turn around their primaries to ensure a conservative candidate wins the nomination in the future?: There are three basic changes needed so that the primaries leverage the best Republican candidate.
First, all primaries should be closed primaries so that only Republicans are permitted to vote in the Republican primary.
17 states are still on track to hold open primaries this year.: Ron Paul recently touted that those states are what will push him to victory, as he is popular with Independents and Democrats.: However, if John McCain’s candidacy taught us anything, it’s that these states help the most moderate Republican candidate.: In fact, Senator McCain did not win a single primary among registered Republican voters up to Super Tuesday.: But, since Democrats and Independents moved him to front-runner, public opinion changed, and he won the nomination because of open primaries.
Unfortunately, many of the states with closed primaries are the most liberal states.: States like Rhode Island, California, and New York have closed primaries, yet you expect those Republicans to lean towards the most moderate candidate.: More conservative states like Mississippi, Idaho, and South Carolina end up going with the biggest moderate because they allow non-Republican voters to help choose their candidates.
Why should Democrats get to decide who will be the Republican candidate?
Open primaries affect the Republican Party much more than the Democratic Party.: Unlike in the Republican Party, there are no moderate Democrats, so they know they will always end up with a liberal candidate whether Republicans can vote in their primaries or not.: And, the influence of Democrats and Independents is especially strong this election cycle because they don’t need to vote in a Democratic presidential primary.
The second needed change is to hold all primaries on the same day.: Why should Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina have more influence over the nominee than other states?
Every voter in every state should have equal opportunity to vote for the same candidates that are on the early primary ballots.: Instead, candidates suspend their campaigns before the rest of the country has had their say.: Or, public opinion shifts as the media convinces us of who the “obvious” winner will be, causing many voters to shy away from the supposed losing candidates they may have otherwise chosen.
Third, states should all have proportional primaries instead of winner-take-all.: Proportional primaries allow each candidate to take a number of delegates based on the percentage of votes they win.: However, many larger, and more liberal states, like New York, have winner take all rules, and these rules tend to favor moderates.
In 2008, John McCain won New York and took all 101 delegates even though he won just under half of the popular vote.: California, another large, liberal state,: has district winner take all primaries.: This means that the winner of each district gets all the delegates of that district.: John McCain won only 42% of California voters, but he walked away with 92% of the delegate votes.
In Florida, John McCain received only 36% of the votes (and 57% of those votes were from Democrats), but walked away with 100% of the 57 delegates.: 36% of the people should not get to choose how 100% of the votes are awarded; at least, not if Republicans want to elect conservatives.
Democrats in office are always moving the country to the left.: And, a moderate for president like John McCain or Mitt Romney would also move the country left.: Conservatives need to rally behind a candidate that will move this country right–at least enough to get us back near the center.: But, the rules of the primaries work against conservatives.
Consider Einstein’s definition of insanity as “doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”: The only way for Republicans to get true conservatives elected is stop using the same process over and over that isn’t working.: The best way to get conservatives elected is to change the rules.
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