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.