Things To Act
Sunday, February 22, 2004
Democratic Primary Update
Desnews interprets the Demos' mostly open primary differently than I do below. "Unfortunately, Utah's Democratic primary is only a semi-open affair this year, following on the heels of the state Republican Party's decision to close its primaries. Anyone who will be at least 18 years old by the Nov. 2 general election is eligible to cast a ballot at his or her local library between noon and 8 p.m. But they [sic] will be required to sign a statement declaring themselves [sic] to be participating as Democrats and agreeing not to vote in any other party's primary for the same election."

I don't know that this is actually a significant obstacle, but maybe I just think too much like a political scientist, in that party affiliation is largely self-determined--you are what you say you are, for as long as you say you are. American parties, for better or for worse, are largely not discriminating associations--they have no way to prevent people from calling themselves members of the party. They can do certain things, like limit their primary ballots to publicly registered party members, but that doesn't seem to be the case in this instance.

In thinking over the electoral consequences of this primary, I suspect that the only way it will even register on the national radar is if Edwards wins, with the margin of victory determining the amount of coverage. A narrow Kerry win on the eve of Super Tuesday wouldn't get nearly the amount of coverage as a narrow Edwards win, since Edwards needs to win somewhere to show that his 'late surging' has potential. A big win, of course, could lead to proportionally more coverage, as well as giving Edwards a much-needed boost if he hopes to survive long in March. In any event, if the state Democratic Party wants it primary to get the most news coverage, its members probably should vote for Edwards. If Kerry wins, expect it to have less impact than even North Dakota or Delaware (for whom frontloading also didn’t seem to help).

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