Things To Act
Saturday, February 21, 2004
A Democratic Primary? In Utah?!?
The Utah Democratic presidential primary is on Tuesday. Interestingly, according to the party webpage, the primary is open to effectively anyone--"all citizens of the United States who will be 18 years of age by the 2004 general election and reside in the State of Utah. Additionally, voters must publicly declare themselves to be participating as Democrats and that they will not participate in the nominating process of any other party for the corresponding election." Methinks many BYU students who didn't vote in their home state Republican primaries could take advantage of this, if they wanted to and didn't mind getting Democratic junk mail ("Participants do not need to be registered to vote, although they will have to sign a form adding them to the party's mailing list."--Desnews).

The question, of course, would be who to vote for, if one were intent on doing so. There are basically three options (Kucinich, though on the ballot, seems highly unlikely to break 15% for the first time in one of the most conservative states in the Union).

1. Dean. Incredibly, Dean still wants voters to vote for him, despite having dropped out, supposedly because "if we receive a sufficient number of votes, we can receive delegates to send to the national convention." The downside to this, of course, is that Dean was barely breaking 15% in states he actually tried in, so it seems highly likely that anyone foolish enough to vote for Dean will merely waste his vote, and Dean won't get any more delegates.

2. Kerry. Seems to be winning contests mainly by virtue of having won contests elsewhere, not through any deep affinity with the voters. Strategic Republicans might want this to continue to force Edwards to drop out sooner, taking Kerry (and his attacks on President Bush) out of the headlines to a degree.

3. Edwards. Claims that he's gaining in every state at the time of voting, implying that if the calendar weren't so frontloaded he'd be winning, as voters would have time to get to know him better. Also may gain if the voters who voted for Dean (for whom the 'electability' argument wouldn't seem to hold much sway) move disproportionately to him. Strategic Republicans might want him to do better, so as to force Kerry to spend time and money fighting him off, to increase the chances that one or both will go negative, and to keep the Dems from 'unifying' around Kerry yet.

Which of these strategies/scenarios would be better (for either party) depends on many other variables, of course.

Other primary tidbits: Frontloading seems not to have worked for Utah Democrats after all, as everyone is more or less ignoring their 29 delegates. No candidate seems likely to visit the state. Furthermore, I can't find any polling data, suggesting that no one else cares either (and we already knew that the Legislature doesn't care, since it declined to fund the primary). Past Democratic primaries had turnout of 27,000 in 1992 and 17,000 in 2000 (after Bradley had dropped out)--it should be interesting to see if that number changes significantly. Finally, insofar as I've been able to tell, no one is visibly campaigning in Provo--I've heard that there are BYU student organizations for both Kerry and Edwards, but haven't seen either of them do anything, on or off campus. Which is a shame, as Democrats at BYU are so misunderstood that they really need to do a better job of getting their message out.

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