# How to make primaries favor conservative candidates

Currently primaries use the first past the post method of elections – meaning that whoever gets the most votes wins. Whether the person who got the most votes received 65, 50, 40, or 30 percent of the vote. Primaries favor moderates because there might be 4 different conservatives in the primary and one flaming moderate. The flaming moderate will be able to hold together his 30% of the electorate while the rest of the field is divided amongst 4 conservatives. Even though 70% of the primary electorate didn’t want the moderate he became the parties nominee because he got more votes then any other one candidate. That’s how the first past the post method of elections works to conservatives disadvantage.

This is a structural problem.

Structural problems require structural solutions.

The way to make primaries favor conservative candidates is to change the method of election from first past the post to the alternative vote – otherwise known as instant run off voting. The way instant run off voting works is that each voter would get to prioritize his votes. Instead of voting for just one candidate he can indicate his preference amongst all the candidates. All the votes are counted until there is one candidate whom 50%+1 of the voters wants.

Say we have five candidates in the primary. The voters would vote for candidates A, B, C, D, and E. They can then vote for as many or as few of the candidates as they want. Maybe Joe Voter votes like this:

1: C
2: A
3: E
4: B
5: -

Joe Voter really likes candidate C. He knows that candidate C is probably only going to get 5% of the vote or so, but Joe Voter really likes candidate C so candidate C is his first choice. He doesn’t bother voting for D as his fifth preference for the principle of the thing.

He then votes for three other candidates according to who he thinks would do the best job. His real compromise candidate is candidate E and he thinks even candidate B is better then candidate D. Joe voter doesn’t vote for candidate D on principle.

When the votes are tally the percentages are as follows: A -25%, B – 15%, C – 5%, D – 35%, E - 20%

Under first past the post this is as far as we get. Candidate D the moderate got more votes then any other one candidate and wins.

Under instant run off voting, however, we would drop candidate C. Most of Candidate C’s voters second choice were Candidates E and A with a few for candidate A so with candidate C out of the race it now looks like this: A -27%, B – 16%, D – 35%, E – 22%.

We still don’t have any one candidate with 50%+1 so we then drop candidate B who only got 16% of the vote at this point. The next choice of those who voted for candidate B are counted. The race now looks like this: A -29%, D – 39%, E – 32%.

We still don’t have any one candidate with 50%+1 so we then drop candidate A. Some of candidate A’s next preference was D, but the vast majority preferred E. The final vote looks like this: D – 41%, E – 59%.

And moderate candidate D looses while a conservative candidate wins the primary! The one to go on to the general election will be one that a majority of the base can support.

Structural problems require structural solutions.

Now doesn’t that sound like a better way of voting in primaries?

The first past the post method of election is not enshrined in the US Constitution. All we have to do is change our state law.

As a bonus this is a non-partisan issue. The Democrat base is just as irritated with their elected office holders as we are and Independents are irritated with both. This would prevent the feeling of disenfranchisement that voters feel when their candidate doesn’t win in a divided primary.

The only ones who lose are the moderates who hold office. Moderates choose primaries over conventions for when they face reelection because conventions generally turn out More conservative nominees. By making primaries automatically instant run off would make challenging incumbents easier. It would make primaries just as good as conventions for favoring conservative candidates.

And that would help us keep our Republic.

• cheetah2

How do we get the structure changed?

• keepourrepublic

In order to change state law gotta get your delegates and state senators to vote for it.

Talk to your representatives. If you can get one of them to pick it up then great! If not you will need to find one somewhere in your state who will sponsor the bill. That might take a while.

Whoever you get to do it will need help because the moderates won’t want to do it. You will need to being pressure to bear both within the party system and publicly.

If you are a member of your local unit committee have the committee pass a resolution that you want republican candidates to change the law to instant run off voting. Then go to surrounding committees and get them in on it as well. Get a good number of the local units passing that resolution and it will make it’s way to the state central committee. See if you can get it voted on at your parties state convention. Getting your state party behind it will be awesome.

Go speak to other local groups about the need to do so. Your state proabbly has a state specific Right to Life organization, citizens defense league, etc. Go to local tea parties and such.

Talk to left leaning organizations as well because everyone wins with this.

Ultimately you’ll have to build pressure within your state to focre the state legislature to change state law. Whether the legislature is controled by Republicans, Democrats, or have a split legislature it probably is controlled by moderates. They will rightly see this as a threat. Gotta increase the pressure on them until you win.

• http://redmerrimack.blogspot.com/ charliebravoNH

Wouldn’t this violate the one person one vote principle?

• http://www.nighttwister.com NightTwister

Fort Collins tried to pass just such a scenario, but it was voted down.

• sulmak

Burlington, Vermont for instance. Many others check wiki. Also Australia has done it for decades.

I believe someone did challenge it in court on one person one vote grounds and the court didn’t buy their argument, but it never got far into the appeals process.

One person one vote was from a court precendent, Reynolds v. Sims, not a law or the constitution, and IRV doesn’t violate the constitution in law or R v S in spirit.

To tell the truth I’m not even sure if R v S actually had the exact words “one person one vote” or if that was just how other people summarized it.

n/t

• keepourrepublic

For dog catcher, mayor, the commissioner of the revenue, city council, attorney general, state delegates, state senators, governor as well as our congressmen and presidential candidates.

And the federal government can’t muck it up. All we need to do it change it one state at a time until we get to an era where there’s just a few that do their primaries that way and they’ll be thought weird for doing so. And then they’ll shift as well.

the further down the list you go. People don’t tend to educate themselves much beyond their favorite.

Run off elections solve this problem but take more effort on the part of the electorate (probably a good thing). So I tend to favor runoffs until majority is reached.

• keepourrepublic

Instead of having only one vote where if they vote for the candidate they prefer they’re throwing their vote away or they vote for the candidate they don’t really like. Either way the voter doesn’t win.

At minimum voters have the candidate they prefer and the one they’re willing to compromise on. With this system for primaries they’d be able to vote for both.

There is no way to ensure that every vote from every voter is informed. All we can do is craft the best system for people to select who they want.

Also doing the runoff voting instantly saves money because the voters only have to vote at one time.

• Common_Cents

in a system where the conservative faction is so split!

• keepourrepublic

I would imagine that the quality of the candidates in the primary would be basically the same and the quality of the candidate who becomes the nominee would trend more conservative.

This would ensure that whoever is our candidate for the general election is someone a majority of the base can vote for. The majority of the base didn’t want John McCain and the majority of the base does not want Mitt Romney. Why stick to a system that rewards candidates who are unfavorable to the base?

• kowalski

So we end up with a system where the far left and the far right have a better chance of electing their candidates in the primaries, and the person who got the most votes loses.

I don’t know if that’s a very good idea.

• kowalski

Are going to be the absurd consequences and the reciprocal consequences in the other party. The absurd consequences are going to occur when you have the “moderate” candidate who lost the primary contest despite getting, say, 40% of the vote, more than anyone else by a considerable margin (which wasn’t the case in Iowa). And the other problem with it is that it seems to be a guarantee that it will have the tendency to cause both parties to elect more candidates with viewpoints on the extremes of their party: just pack the candidate list and drown out the moderates.

I really don’t know whether America needs a voting system where the clear winner by vote total doesn’t win the contest.

• JSobieski

for Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in April 1993.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lani_Guinier

Guinier’s theories were first presented in law-school publications. They were also aired in part with her 1994 publication, The Tyranny of the Majority. In this work and others, Guinier suggests various ideas to strengthen minority groups’ voting power, and rectify what is, according to her, an unfair voting system. She claims that she is referring not only to racial minorities, but any numerical minority group, such as fundamentalist Christians, the Amish, or in states such as Alabama, Republicans; she also states that she does not advocate any single procedural rule, but rather that all alternatives be considered in the context of litigation “after the court finds a legal violation.”[10]

Some of the ideas she considers are:
cumulative voting, a system in which each voter has “the same number of votes as there are seats or options to vote for, and they can then distribute their votes in any combination to reflect their preferences”–a system often used on corporate boards in 30 states, as well as by school boards and county commissions.
Multi-member “superdistricts” is another strategy which “modifies winner-take-all majority rule to require that something more than a bare majority of voters must approve or concur before action is taken.”

• kowalski

Romney spent a lot of money for each of his votesin order to avoid the loss he suffered there the first time. He had the money and he prevailed, by a very slim margin which makes a lot of Conservatives angry. But Rick Perry spent even more per vote and didn’t get as many. Meanwhile Rick Santorum came basically out of nowhere and pulled even-steven with Romney despite all the money that was spent by the other two. All with the “first past the post” system.

Imagine if there was instant runoff voting in Iowa. It’s very possible – in fact, it’s highly likely in my mind, that Ron Paul would have been declared the winner. I’ll bet that a lot of people had him 2nd or 3rd on their list, and in an instant-runoff scenario those votes would have accrued to his benefit and Ron Paul would have been the Iowa nominee.

Is that what we want? Even if you’re a hard-core Conservative I don’t understand how that could be what you would have wanted to see in Iowa.

The first-past-the-post system has its problems, to be sure. But are we really going to start advocating all across this country a system where the person who wins the most votes outright loses the election? I don’t know whether America is ready for that kind of European sophistication or whether it should be.

• keepourrepublic

“So we end up with a system where the far left and the far right have a better chance of electing their candidates in the primaries”

Yes. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. And if the democrats put up more candiates who will say explicitely that they are socialists all the better to run against them. We win on ideas.

“and the person who got the most votes loses.”

Incorrect.

If the candidate who got the most votes in the first round got 50%+1 then there’s no need to go to a round two. If a candidate wins with 50%+1 in any subsequent round he would still have the most votes.

“And the other problem with it is that it seems to be a guarantee that it will have the tendency to cause both parties to elect more candidates with viewpoints on the extremes of their party: just pack the candidate list and drown out the moderates.”

The system would yield more candidates who are in tune with their respective base. The idea is to send up representatives who actually represent their constituents.

Besides, being moderate is no virtue. It’s usually code for “gonna help big government along”.

“I really don

• keepourrepublic

So that means we are going to have to change the system so that the incentives are different. Change the incentives and you change the game.

• Common_Cents

then he’d win.

But more likely, that if someone voted for a non romney, they’d favor another non romney for their 2nd and 3rd choice. So those votes would roll up and give 1 non romney a chance to compete w/ romney. I think Paul has the same romney problem, he has solid base support but then drops off fast as a 2nd/3rd choice.

• JSobieski

A lot of Perry supporters say its either Perry or Romney
A lot of criticism of Santorum suggests that there is a fairly large anti-Santorum contingent as well.

I don’t think 75% of the voting pool is as anti-Romney as the media meme suggests.

As people drop, Romney will get some of the votes.

As with many things reported by the media, the anti-Romney “block” will be shown to be a big exaggeration.