Sunday, May 14, 2023

The reddest state in America should have more influence in the process to select a presidential nominee!

 Weekly Opinion Editorial

by Steve Fair

     The Republican Party selects a presidential nominee through a process of primaries and caucuses in each state that bind convention ‘delegates’ to candidates.  The whole presidential nomination process is governed by rule 40 of the national Republican Party rules.  A presidential nominee must have the support of a majority of the delegates at the national convention.  The GOP, in each state, determine how to select their national delegates.  Some states are winner-take-all, others proportional.  In a winner-take-all state, the top vote getter earns all the delegates.  In a proportional state, a candidate getting 20% or more of the vote earn delegates.  Oklahoma is a proportion allocated state, as are most states.  Seventeen states are winner-take-all.  Three observations:

     First, rule 40 has changed since 2016.  After President Trump was elected, his political team lobbied the GOP to get states to ditch the proportional allocation and go to winner-take-all.  In 2016, Trump complained that despite he was winning more delegates than the other candidates, why was he not getting every delegate in a state where he won the plurality? Many in the GOP agreed and ten states changed from proportional and are now winner-take- all.  Florida, whose primary will be held on March 19, is a winner-take-all state.  In a large primary field, this change favors the favorite, which in this case is Donald Trump. 

     Second, proportional allocation has a valid argument.  In 2016, Donald Trump had 63% of the pledged delegates at the GOP convention, but he garnered only 45% of the actual primary vote.  Advocates for proportional delegate allocation pointed out 55% of voting Republican primary voters preferred one of the other 15 candidates in the primary and those voters deserved a voice in the process.  They also pointed out elected officials must get a clear majority to win.  Critics of proportional allocation call the awarding to delegates who candidates who lost akin to giving out ‘participation trophies.’ 

     Third, the GOP’s primary calendar should be evaluated.  Iowa passed a law stating they will be the first primary in the U.S.  The state will hold the first GOP caucus in early January 2024, but no convention delegates are bound.  The Iowa caucus is nothing more than a beauty contest!  While the caucus is an economic boom to the Hawkeye state, it’s importance to the GOP presidential process is forgettable.  New Hampshire, who goes a week later than Iowa, has shifted to the left in recent years and while Politics and Eggs is entertaining to watch on C-Span, the Granite state has little impact on who wins the nomination.  Why not start the primary process in Florida instead of waiting until March? 

     Iowa’s caucus is early January 2024.  New Hampshire will vote in mid-January and South Carolina in late January.  Oklahoma Republicans will vote on Super Tuesday- March 2th- along with fourteen other states.  By that time, the nomination may be sewed up and the Sooner state’s input inconsequential and pointless.  The reddest state in America should have more influence in the process to select a nominee.  The primary calendar should be lined up by performance, not based on some classical, commemorative reminiscence.

     GOP candidates challenging Donald Trump in 2024 face an uphill battle.  The rules favor him.  If they expect to beat him, they must focus on policy and not personality and pray the voting public does the same.

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