Perverse Primaries

Sore-loser laws favor partisan extremists and disempower voters.

Comments: 143

  1. In states with "sore-loser" laws, obviously the wishes of the majority do not matter as the system is such that they cannot be represented by their candidate of choice.

  2. What about the "wishes of the majority" who voted against the "sore-loser" the first time? How is it democratic to ignore those votes? Why stop at two elections? Why not keep holding elections until the status-quo Republicans (yes, including Lieberman) the editorial writer obviously favors finally win?

  3. I think not too many voters, and perhaps even columnists, are aware of Arrow's theorem which points out that the "will of the voters" is unlikely to prevail when there are three candidates. A liberal third candidate can ensure the defeat of the more liberal of the two main candidates, and a conservative third candidate can ensure the defeat of the more conservative main candidate.

    Thus in 2000, the "more liberal" Nader assured the defeat of Gore, and in 1992, the more conservative Ross Perot assured the defeat of Bush Sr. It is certain that in 2000 Gore would have won if Nader had not run, and in my view, in 1992, Bush Sr. would have won if Perot had not run. (Note, Bush Sr. was a far more pragmatic president than his son W. The first Gulf war waged by Bush Sr. cost less than 1% of the cost of the later wars waged by W and Obama).

    Having a third candidate looks attractive and one thinks that the voters will then have "more choices". But an election does not work like a supermarket. More choices can result in the wrong choice being made.

  4. I'm an independent, and think each party should be allowed to have their own primaries, with their own candidates and their own infighting.

    But blocking people from running outside of their party, when they are otherwise legally qualified to run for the office, shouldn't be allowed.

    Political parties should be allowed to decide internally who will represent them in an election. But the voters should be able to choose anyone who gets onto the ballot - outside of the party the candidate tried representing.

  5. It was just a step in the long process of taking the vote away from the American people. Since Reagan came into power spreading the supply side nonsense theory, what has happened is the rich have taken investments and assets from the middle class through stock market and benefit maneuvering and so have created a Plutocratic class. This class has taken over elections through campaign contributions. Any candidate we know is running is backed by the rich. We only know those who are sponsored by the rich because they are the only ones that can afford enough media coverage. Even if a non-sponsored candidate can get enough signatures to appear on the ballot they do so in obscurity. So those backed by the rich are the ones the people know about and who they must choose from. Is that a fair election? Absolutely not. America is no longer a democracy. With 'Citizens United' SCOTUS has put the next to final nail in the coffin of American Democracy and has all but turned our nation into a Plutocracy. The final step is one party elections and with almost no difference between the Democrats and Republicans now in Washington we are just about there anyway.

  6. Finally, an editorial that gets to the heart of America's real political problem. Our candidate selection process is broken, encouraging small groups of activists to select whomever they please because so few races are competitive.

    The party that reforms candidate selection effectively can run the federal government for a generation.

    Combine democratic candidate selection with non-partisan districting mandated to produce competitive races and we've got a shot at actual government.

  7. No matter what you do, no matter how you choose, anomalies arise. See Kenneth Arrow "Social Choice and Individual Values"

    J.B. McGuire

  8. I think the idea is to force the anomalies in the an area where they can do the least harm.

  9. A much better idea would be to have run-off Senate elections, like the French presidential run-off election. Independents and candidates from various parties would face each other in the first election, and then the two candidates who got the most votes, regardless of party, would face each other in the final election. This would encourage multiple parties, de-emphasize party primaries, and give more choice and control to the voters. ("Sore-loser" laws should not only remain in place where they currently exist, but all fifty states should have them.)

  10. And when a 3-way general election allows an extremist candidate to win, as in Maine's gubernatorial election, what then? This, even with a "sore loser" law. 61% of Mainers didn't want Paul LePage, but we got him anyway.

  11. Such a case works only with runoff voting, which sadly Maine lacks. Weather it be a second round two weeks later, or an instant runoff ranking-your-votes plan, someone has to get more than 51%, thereby not allowing someone who captures only 39% of the vote from falsely claiming a mandate for his extreme agenda.

  12. How about getting rid of partisan primaries altogether and lumping all candidates together on a general primary ballot, regardless of party.

    Turnout will be strong for the single primary voting day and the two highest vote-getters, regardless of party, will face off in the November general election.

    That will quickly get rid of the freak shows posing as election candidates.

  13. I am not convinced that party primaries make sense if the voters in those primaries aren't members of the party. Still getting rid of sore loser laws seems to make sense.

  14. In a non-run-off two-party system, which is what we have in all of our states, the party primaries assume a much larger significance than they would otherwise, such that we can't merely leave these up to to the parties and have anything resembling a real democracy. Doing away with "sore-loser" laws in this system would only exacerbate the problem.

    No, if a candidate is not willing to accept the verdict of his party, he shouldn't run in that party's primary in the first place. It's as simple as that.

  15. Sounds like Mr. Edwards is the sore loser. Dewhurst and Bennett lost. If they were allowed to run again in the general election, they would be running as sore losers and would serve only to defeat the candidate they lost to in the primary, who presumably would be far more desirable to Republican voters than the Democrat in the race.

    The laws are written to prevent this. The fact that 44 states have this type of law suggests they are popular and are written for a reason.

    If Dewhurst wants to run as an independent or third party candidate, he should start out that way and then he will not be precluded from running in the general election.

    Dewhurst and Bennett lost in the primaries for a reason. Their party was not happy with their performance in office and/or preferred someone who reflected more the will of Republican voters. If the parties in the states think the sore losers should be banned from ballot after having been on the ballot once in a campaign, I can't blame them.

  16. What you're arguing is anti-democratic. If the two most popular overall candidates are within the same party, then giving the public at large -- rather than voters of one party -- the choice in the general election would produce the more representative Senator. A moderate Republican may little chance of winning a primary in a state like Texas, but may prove more acceptable to a majority of voters than a fringe candidate from either of the major parties. At least they should be given that opportunity.

  17. The problem here is when the parties go to extremes, and parties by their nature have a tropism for extremes. Party organisations are generally run by stalwarts (a.k.a. hacks), the ones who, as WS Gilbert put it, 'vote black or white as your leaders indite, which saves you the trouble of thinking'. Traditionally they're more interested in the advancement of their party (and themselves) than in the good of the body politic. Reward your friends, punish your foes (defined as 'anyone who isn't with us is against us). Patronage jobs and pork barrel; the chortling schadenfreude of that email from Chris Christie's operative about schoolchildren of Buono voters. In essence these party hacks are like a cancer cell, which promotes its own unlimited growth at the expense of the larger organism. (In the long run they don't even benefit their party: Witness the 2013 special election for Senate, in which longtime GOP party worker Steve Lonegan, Tea Party wacko bird extraordinaire, was rewarded for many years of stuffing envelopes with the GOP nomination, enabling him to get swamped by Cory Booker. A stronger, moderate candidate might've had a good chance against Booker.)

  18. I never heard of this before. The was no public debate as to weather to institute such rules. No referendum. Popular to the parties certainly but invisible to the people.

  19. The political party system in the United States is long overdue for reform. It is primarily is dependent upon patronage and favoritism.

    The communications revolution offers the possibility of enabling true democratic participation by those who register to a political party. Little, if any, effort has been made to utilize technology to bring about that result.

    A truly public spirited foundation ought sponsor a substantial review of State election laws and of political party charters/by-laws, and make recommendations as to how the democratic process can be better brought to bear upon a system that presently makes little contribution to good government and tends to retard constructive reform.

    The sore-loser issue discussed by the column is just a small aspect of a much larger problem.

  20. The counter-argument is that Americans are too unsophisticated to countenance shades of gray in elections: black or white, Dem. or Repub., but not the coalition-building that occurs in parliamentary systems AFTER elections take place. We do our coalition-building at the major party level, and end with clear-choice candidates that represent one ideology or another. We're quite lucky when we elect people who appeal mostly to one but can talk civilly and work constructively with the other.

    You argue for an end-state that would put people with MANY different convictions in our representative bodies, and the need for coalition-building at a level of sophistication an order of magnitude removed from what we've typically experienced. Moreover, given our system of fixed-length terms of office and power, that kind of coalition formation doesn't really work -- imagine a governing coalition that fell apart in the middle of a congress that still had one year to serve, or a president who lost support while still three years away from the end of his term in office. Why ... we might find ourselves essentially where we are today, only on purpose (which is worse).

    Sore loser laws were intended to support the primacy of our two-party system. Unless we're going to re-think that system from the ground-up, they actually make sense. And if we're going to re-think it, the impelling reasons should be more pressing and fundamental than a mere perception of "unfairness" attaching to such laws.

  21. "Sore loser laws were intended to support the primacy of our two-party system. Unless we're going to re-think that system from the ground-up, they actually make sense."

    But while we have a two party system in practice, you make it sound like it's enshrined in law. It's not. There are several political parties, although none that actually win elections. I think we need more political parties reflecting more accurately the views of more voters.

    The current Republican party right now seems to be ready for a schism splitting the traditionalists and the Tea Parity. The Democrats might likewise split between the moderate centrists (who are more than a little like GOP traditionalists) and the more activist left wing.

    I would love to vote for, say, a hard left representative, a centrist Democratic senator and for president, Dwight Eisenhower.

    I'm sure the capitol architects could figure out how to divvy up the seats.

  22. So Americans are more unsophisticated (read stupid?) than Australians, British, Canadians, Dutch, etc. This is a form of American Exceptionalism that I never expected to see you espouse.

    p.s. Having lived in the US, Australia, Britain and Canada, I totally disagree with you.

  23. Slim:

    Then, you argue for the parliamentary system of an Italy, where coalitions are built in their parliament, and often fail -- as they've been failing again lately; same for Greece of late. We looked at those systems as an evolving nation and concluded that they were too unstable for our tastes.

    No, our two-party system isn't enshrined in law -- "parties" weren't even envisaged by our constitution. But that system evolved to balance, in a uniquely American way, the needs for intellectual diversity with the needs for stability. As I mentioned in my comment, we do create coalitions, but really during our party primaries, the institution that Mr. Edwards attacks in part for the ubiquity of our "sore loser" laws.

    Long ago, we concluded that people whom we elect to actually represent us should share a basis of common convictions, so that the vying that takes place isn't so complex as to render forward movement impossible. That we're in that fix today is really owing to the fact that our electorate is basically split 50-50 on those basic convictions, and that no one leader has emerged with the ability to convince a substantial majority of us to one view or the other. But that won't last forever: good salesmen have always appeared in America when we've needed them most.

  24. At the beginning of the Republic when only the involved people voted, the country did O.K.
    Today elections are won with 30 second commercials.
    Since today a large percentage of voters are functionally incapable of reading the paper, it's debatable that they are casting informed votes.

  25. Even when they do read, they tend to read papers like the NY Times... who tell them how to vote.

  26. In the beginning of the Republic, only landed men were eligible to vote. In the beginning of our country, slaves were apportioned 3/5th of human status as a way to keep the South in the Union. In the beginning of our country George Washington told the crowd at his departure speech that politics as usual (back then) would destroy the fledgling nation. In the beginning of the Republic EVERYONE was involved in politics. It was a national pastime. Just like now.

  27. Why bother to read the paper? My local paper in Ohio can't be bothered covering any elections in the suburbs. In fact, they can't even get the name of one of the suburbs correct. And when they do write something I want to read, chances are the reporter is such a poor writer the reader has to read to the end of the article to find the identity of a person quoted at the beginning.

    First step to better elections is to close all journalism schools and require that all journalists study history, political science, English, science, statistics, and possibly a foreign language. Then maybe they would give us some election coverage that actually told us something about the issues.

    A second step is to eliminate opinion polls--the coverage would be better if reporters had to form their own judgement about who is important enough to cover.

  28. What's next? To declare any election in which 51% of the registered electorate do not vote as being null and void? You have to have a set of rules to prevent elections and nominating conventions from going on and on. If you want prevent decisions being made on the basis of one vote, why not start with requiring the House and Senate to decide things with 60% of the vote, rather than anything over 50%?

  29. 'why not start with requiring the House and Senate to decide things with 60% of the vote, rather than anything over 50%?'

    Good recipe for never getting anything done. At least now they rename a post office now and then or declare National Zucchini Week.

  30. Or better yet have a single, non-partisan, open primary where the top two finishers face each in the general election. This is used in several localities and it basically has led to more moderate candidates facing each other in the general election.

  31. What works in a small, primarily politically homogeneous, places does not always work in larger, more diverse, conditions. And I wonder... do Democrats have the same problem? That is, are some Democrats blocked out (either by law or political backing) of challenging the party nominee (think of Hillary in 2008)?

  32. It's not a coincidence, that in a winner take all election system, there are so many sore loser laws in place. Otherwise, the chances are just too great, that the opposing Party will reap the benefits.
    When primaries result in radical candidates, the damage has already been done. Open primaries are not the answer either. Here the chances are too great, that members of the opposing Party will try to select the most unelectable candidate.
    How about closed primaries with online and mail-in voting? After all, true moderates wont usually jump through hoops for their candidate. Their lazyness should be catered to.

  33. The polarizing effect of the Sore-loser Law could be a reflection of the existing polarization. In that case, iIts repeal alone cannot correct the situation. And the cause of the polarization should be clarified. There could be an economic cause. But the principle of democracy should be kept. (On the condition that every individual is reasonable enough and responsible enough and financially paid enough to be reasonable enough and responsible enough.)

  34. The author fails to speak of the upside of the system: ir you lose, you lose. One reason we do not have the fragmented political system that makes cobbling coalitions together so difficult (witness Germany recently) is that "sore losers" slink off.

  35. What rubbish! Germany has proportional representation and so most governments are coalitions because in most elections no party achieves a majority of all votes cast. This is true of most of the many countries that use PR.

  36. That has nothing to do with coalition-building. Germany (and other Parliamentary systems) need to build coalitions due to the nature of their political system. America does not have the same system, and there isn't any coalition-building. As the author explained, 'sore loser' laws INCREASE fragmentation in our political system by polarizing candidates prior to the general election, then disallowing primary losers to run.

  37. This comment is irrelevant in a non-parliamentary governance system, like the US. In the end, there is always one winner. On the other hand, the utterly dysfunctional US Congress has shown quite clearly that a parliamentary system may be preferable at times. The point of the article was that present laws allow small radical minorities to gain disproportionate political influence.

  38. We are more and more often being confronted by stark evidence that many Americans do not believe in our constitutional democracy. Primary rules like the ones you cite certainly are illustrations of that. Michelle Alexander's astute observations in The New Jim Crow regarding the impacts of draconian criminal laws and punishments, and efforts to suppress voter turnout are even more frightening examples. This is not the direction we should be moving. Thank you and the others who are working to identify and warn against these threats.

  39. "Sore loser" laws are yet another way that the two incumbent parties retain their hold on American politics. Rather than debating the relative merits of having or not having a sore loser law, we should instead be debating the merits of better voting systems that would actually facilitate the election of the candidate that would be most-favored by the majority of the voters.

    In other words, in these modern days when it has become technically feasible, we should be investigating instant run-off voting, ranked voting, or some system other than our current two party primaries followed by an often-sham (or at best, "pro forma") general election.

  40. Before we start any sort of innovation like ranked voting, we need to make plain voting technically feasible. When the company building and programming the voting machines is a heavy contributor to one party and when there are reports of voting machines not working, we don't have a technically feasible system.

  41. It's called stealing an election.

  42. Mr. Edwards is correct that "Sore Loser" laws lead to a lack of political moderation and diversity. Moderate Republicans are rare and those of the Nelson Rockefeller genre are extinct! The question should be why we are limited to only two parties, one more than such "one party bastions of democracy," as the "Democratic Peoples Republic of (North) Korea," "the "Peoples Republic of China" and the "Socialist Republic of Cuba." The Constitution and laws of the U.S. do not limit the number of parties. Canada functions well with four major parties; most European nations having multiple parties, compel the formation of "coalition governments," which are more moderate.

    The Federal government funds the conventions of the Democrats and Republicans, but not the Libertarians, Constitutionalists, Greens and others. The "Commission on Presidential Debates" is the captive of the two major parties, excluding candidates of third parties. The "Electoral College," is an organ which has outlived its usefulness and on occasion frustrates the popular will.

    The framers of the Constitution designed the government to fit our first President, George Washington. The system has since outlived its usefulness and a Parliamentary system, such as those in Australia, Canada, or the U.K. would serve us better. A Parliamentary "Vote of No Confidence" would have dissolved the Nixon administration and avoided the paralysis of Watergate, as well as ended the current gridlock and recent government shutdown.

  43. Given the typical knowledge base of the notoriously ill-informed American voter, I'm not so sure giving us more choices is such a hot idea.
    We probably wouldn't end up any worse off if we settled things with bare knuckled fist fights.

  44. Interesting piece. Did not know about these laws. Just one more anomaly that keeps us from having actually representative government. This, super pacs, and gerrymandering need to go if we are to remain a republic.

  45. From flagrant gerrymandering to the ridiculous centrality of party primaries to blatantly-suppressive laws like this one, I'm amazed that we continue to tolerate the severe distortion of the political process that both parties engage in. The majority of us are now virtually disenfranchised in that our ability to have our views expressed through the political process is blocked by various laws and electoral arrangements that the two parties have put in place that allow their politicians to ignore most of us on most issues. They've hijacked the country and are getting away with it because their methods are just complex enough that it's hard for the average busy citizen to learn about and understand what's going on.

  46. My belief is that Open primaries would solve much of the wackiness we see today, where potentially good candidates are forced to one-up extremist views in order to capture a crowd who would cheer for leaving someone to die on the side of the road.

  47. I supported Dewhurst in the Senate primary, but if he had run as an independent the effect might have been to elect a Democrat in Texas (had Dewhurst and Cruz split the vote). That's hardly representative of what Texans want either. And if you look at what the Senate majority has done in the past year, to trample on the rights of the minority by allowing fewer than a half dozen of floor amendments in the past year and denying the right to filibuster court nominees (both radical positions in my opinion), the consequences of sending yet another rubber stamp vote for Senator Reid are high. Even moderates like Heidi Heitcamp of North Dakota have voted in lockstep with Reid's preferred position, without question. In a drive to repeal "sore loser" laws, I see a nefarious plot by Democrats to steal elections in red states where they are not competitive.

  48. Sore-loser laws are new to me. I had no idea these restrictions existed. How in the world in our democracy can these “laws” be legal?

    Anywhere you turn – from voter ID laws, to constriction of early voting, to gerrymandering – it gets more and more dispiriting every day. Again, how can any of these things be lawful when they cede control of our democracy to the hands of a few rigging the game?

  49. The Tea Party practice of primarying incumbents who are too moderate would certainly lose a lot of its punch if sore-loser laws did not exist.

    I'm wondering whether a group similar to ALEC spearheaded this bit of election-tinkering.

  50. Here is my suggestion. Given every voter two votes for the primary. They can then use them both in the Democratic primary, use both in the Republican party, or use one each in each primary. If they wish they could even use both in the Green party (they do have primaries?).

    The consequence would be that centrist voters would have more of an influence in the final outcome. As it is, moderate Republicans are crowded out by the extreme right, and moderate Democrats are crowded out by the de Blasio types. Under my proposal they would have some allies from the "other party" aficionados.

    Right now, when the election comes around, we moderates have little choice left. The candidate whom we would prefer, and the electorate would prefer, has already been eliminated.

    Let us allow the "mostly Democratic" voters to have some influence in the Republican primaries and the "mostly Republican" voters to have some influence in the Democratic primaries.

    Rather than have Congress consist entirely of two angry groups growling at each other, let us have a few peacemakers, PLEASE?

  51. Look at what is happening to Governor Christie, a moderate. He's in the middle, so now that he is in trouble he has no friends on either side. Many moderates are retiring from Congress this year. Look at how the bipartisan group "Third Way" was vilified by left wing Democrats a few weeks ago. We are losing the middle, creating more polarization, and that's unfortunate.

  52. Mickey Edwards is a reasonable guy. So he does not fit in with today's Republican party. If he ran for office today, he would lose. He should just admit not only that the GOP is the major cause of the problems he describes, but that it is hopelessly broken.

    Come over from the dark side, Mickey. The Democrats would welcome a moderate, reasonable man like you with open arms.

  53. Actually, they wouldn't. Even so-called moderates in the Senate like Angus King and Heidi Heitcamp are being forced to tow the liberal party line, if you look at their voting records. Groups like "Third Way" have been vilified by Elizabeth Warren and others. Democrats are losing their center just as rapidly as Republicans are losing their center.

  54. Sore Loser laws won't matter a whit when climate change takes over the 44 states that block candidates who failing to win a party primary cannot appear on that state's general election ballot. Fairness is not an issue here - cf Ted Cruz who is riding into battle on his destrier with Sore Loser gonfalons flying, and democracy speared by his lance.

  55. People ask how someone as universally hated as Bobby Jindal could win reelection, thank open primaries for some of that. There can be 15 people on the ballot and the top 2 get less than 15% of the vote each but still get on the final ballot. So 60% of voters voted against them find that they have no one to vote for in the general so they just don't even bother to go vote.
    Why would you go vote when you hate both people on the ballot?

    I think I heard that like only 32% of voters even bothered to show for that election where the race was between 2 republicans.
    I left that race blank and most of the other races too because there were nothing but republicans on the ballot, I just voted on the amendments and whatnot.

    Jindal spent all 4 years of his first term in other states begging for reelection money and doing his book tour.

    The slogan here was 'anybody but Bobby' but he still won because there were so many people on the ballot and with no primaries, no one person had enough money to even put a dent in the $5%2B million blitz that Jindal put on.

    Only when they start putting "None of the above" on ballots will we see an end to the extremism.

  56. I always wondered how the craziest candidates wound up on the ticket. Thank you for the explanation. If I lived in Utah, I would be very upset.

  57. Good points. Remember that Lieberman was able to win because Rove et. al. made sure Republicans voted for the "Independent" Lieberman rather than their own candidate.

  58. Regarding Lieberman, you are absolutely correct. After all, the war vote wasn't the only one in which Lieberman voted in step with the Republican agenda.

  59. If Ralph Nader and Ron Paul hadn't run in general elections then we would have Gore an Romney elected presidents.

  60. And Gore would have been just fine!!!

  61. There's a bigger problem with primaries, but the abuse is so ingrained we don't question it.

    Why do parties -- which are supposed to be civic organizations *outside* the government -- get to use public election apparatus at public expense to select their nominees for office?

    Have a caucus, have a meeting, have a web poll. If you tell me that's unwieldy for a nationwide party with tens of millions of people, that's your problem.

    Once you make the "non-governmental" nomination process a public function, the urge to be fair leads to a second, derivative abuse: open primaries. Why should a Democrat have any say in whom the Republicans nominate for office, or vice versa? The wrongful public funding of the process compels us to make it open equally to all, like any other public function -- but it shouldn't be a public function in the first place.

  62. I have argued the same thing for years. As private organizations, parties should be setting their own rules and methods for choosing their candidates. These methods can be whatever they want: democratic, selection by a small group, or by a single person. It's up to them. But this process should not be conflated with the public election process. Party primaries should not be treated as public functions.

  63. No, what matters is states rights.

  64. Tortured logic = irrational outcomes. Edwards misses the point entirely. I've lived in a state with open primaries, Washington, for 17 years. Washington does not even allow partisan REGISTRATION.

    As a "generic" libertarian, I watch the left/right divide very closely. Here's what I saw.

    The partisan divisions, Republican and Democrat, are no different than anywhere else. But those positions are debated with CIVILITY.

    If the Republican candidate is nasty enough, then Democrats will "cross over" and bury him in the primary. Eventually, one can see it as the voters imposing civility. Washington also has VERY open access to the ballot. 100 signatures, even for statewide office, which is the safety valve for that Republican who got blown away in the primary.

    So the author misses it on all counts. Easy ballot access is the TACTIC to eliminate what he cause "sore loser" laws.

  65. First, there were "smoke-filled rooms" in which the nominees were selected by the party leaders (meaning mostly the power brokers and money men) and so the primary system was created... bringing fairness into the system and giving the power to select nominees to to the rank and file of the party. But, in reality, it didn't... because the people are complacent and indifferent and tend to vote for the candidate who has the most backing (money) and appears to be the most popular in political polls. The voters must change or the system won't.

  66. I agree with others that an open primary is the way to go. The current primary system allows the parties to use the election apparatus of the State, at no cost to the party, to further the party's ends more so that furthering the interest of the people, as this column points out.

  67. As I remember the 2006 Senatorial campaign in Connecticut, Democrats were appalled that Senator Lieberman would so unabashedly support a war we considered immoral, moronic and wasteful, and voted for Ned Lamont in the primary. Republicans, afraid of another liberal vote in the Senate, named a little-known Republican - I can't even remember his name and I don't think I'm alone - as their nominee for Senator, at about the same time Senator Lieberman announced his run as an "Independent." Independent, my foot: Connecticut Republicans barely supported their own candidate, as national Republican groups, wanting a Senator on their side, threw their heavy support to Lieberman. Lieberman edged Lamont and Republicans got what they wanted: a formerly-Democrat Senator who sided with the Bush Administration. And the war went on. Lieberman may have won, but Connecticut voters sure didn't. And I have no idea what happened to the Republican nominee for Senate.

  68. FYI, Obama endorsed Lieberman over Lamont in that primary.

  69. And Lamont didn't do so well when he ran for election again. Very flawed candidate.

  70. Election outcomes are manipulated by wealthy power brokers intent on having their views hold sway. The Ohio presidential vote in 2008 had Diebolt fingerprints, the 2000 presidential vote in Florida was a travesty of errors starting with Theresa LePore's design of a ballot which gave Pat Buchanan an extraordinary percentage of votes in very, very Democratic Palm Beach county. After that, the Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris delivered as ordered to Governor Bush and his brother. The Supreme Court added the icing. The Citizens United decision was the worst of all.
    Candidates for any federal office today have to be bankrolled. More time is spent raising money than performing the actual job at hand. I always laugh when I hear people like Mitch McConnell say "The American people want.....". How would he know?

  71. Thomas, you sound like a Democrat and of course nothing wrong with that. But you might like to know that in 2008, McCain received 5 million individual votes in California and zero electoral votes from California.

    Many Democrats will retort, "That is how the system works." Sure, but the system also allows gerrymandering and allowed the Supreme Court to free the purse strings of corporations. So should we NOT criticize the system?

    I want a fair system and not one which favors "my party".

  72. Great idea to adopt a fair system which doesn't favor my party. But bear in mind that, in addition to losing the electoral college, John McCain lost the popular vote, too, so by any measure you want to concoct (except something more unfair than the electoral college), McCain lost to Obama. Bear in mind, though, if we elected our president by the fairest method of all, by a popular vote rather than the electoral college, the Supreme Court would not have been able to elect George W. Bush president in 2000 (while the electoral college a cliff-hanger, Gore won popular vote handily by over a half million votes), and the world would be a much different place today. For starters, we'd be trillion dollars ahead because we wouldn't have invaded Iraq, we wouldn't have had the budget-crippling Bush tax cuts which created no jobs and no prosperity except for the rich, plus who knows, there might have been no 9/11 and there might have been adequate enough regulation of the financial industry that our economy might not have collapsed in 2008. So yes, I want a fair system. And a fair system includes one that doesn't try to disenfranchise the poor and elderly who don't have driver's licenses. Do you really want a fair system too, or do you just want to change the outcome of the 2008 presidential election?

  73. The Diebold reference was for 2004. I mis- typed.

  74. Seems to me that sore loser laws are meant to affect the balance between: 1) strength and stability of the major parties, and 2) the will of the majority of citizens. Clearly, the laws are written to prevent the latter from overwhelming the former.

    Based on my fellow commenters here (and in various threads on various websites of all political persuasions), it appears to me that this is consonant with the views of involved citizens; we distrust the majority, claiming that most people are (select all that apply) a) too illiterate, b) too unproductive, c) too ignorant, d) too easily swayed by 30 second political ads, e) too parochial, and f) too willing to read the constitution "incorrectly."

    We claim to be exporting democratic principles to the rest of the world, but we are leery of too much democratic principle even here in the USA.

    Thus, most states have set up a system whereby 1) The state's general citizenry has no say in how each party chooses its candidates, yet 2) Once each party has picked its candidates, the parties have great say in whether candidates preferred by the general citizenry can run against them.

    Keep this in mind next time you feel like sneering at the way some backward country runs its elections.

  75. "the will of the majority of citizens. "

    There is no such thing as the will of the majority of citizens. This was already noticed by Condorcet in the 19th century and substantiated by Arrow's theorem proved in 1950. There is a Wikipedia entry on this.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arrow%27s_impossibility_theorem

    If there is no such thing as the will of the majority of citizens, then what can Democracy mean? It can mean that the government should "sort" of reflect common values.

    Unfortunately our current system turns an election into warfare between the parties and consensus candidates tend not to be nominated.

    In summer 2000, surveys showed that McCain would have handily beaten either of Bush or Gore in a one on one match. But McCain could not win against Bush among the Republicans, Bush got nominated and sort of won.

    Would McCain have been a better president than Bush? Surely he would have been, no matter what we think of McCain versus Obama.

  76. Sore loser laws, combined with naked voter suppression, grotesque gerrymandering, bidding wars for congressional seats, gross disproportionality in the Senate and an electoral college that can award the presidency to the vote-losing candidate puts the lie to the notion of an American "democracy."

    What we have is plutocracy, pure and simple. There is no other way to describe our system of government by the elite. I don't care if we're talking elephants or donkeys.

  77. Woul have been nice had the NYT provided a list showing us which states have these laws and which don't. There were a few examples embedded in the article (and fortunately my state was referenced - yay we don't have these silly laws)...but the article seems incomplete without the list.

    And, gosh...how totally obnoxious these laws are...

  78. The list was not well formatted, but it was there:

    Loser of the primary can run in the general election
    Connecticut
    New York
    Iowa.

    Primaries open to both parties, top two winners advance to the general election, even if they are of the same party:
    California
    Louisiana
    Washington

    The other 44 have sore loser laws and partisan primaries.

  79. Please guarantee that a copy of this column is sent to Ross Douthat's inbox. He insists ad nauseam that Mike Lee is a populist, elected by a groundswell of public support. I invariably comment on his statements but this column lays out in black and white more or less how Mr. Lee got on the ballot and ended up winning. What it doesn't show is that in a state completely dominated by Republicans, where virtually all elections are foregone conclusions, voter turnout is about a third of the registered voters.

    Some populist groundswell, huh?

  80. Simple solution: If you don't like the law, change it. If you can't change it, find a way to deal with it. But please, no whining. And who's the sore loser, exactly??

  81. Are you not listening? Did you not read this article? Edwards is TRYING to change this by making you aware of it.

  82. The comments are part of a discussion about whether to make a concerted effort to change the ill named sore loser laws.

  83. Living in places like Texas or California, you get used to the fact that voting in a presidential election is as pointless as a vote cast in the old East Germany. By the time the primary comes rolling along the party's nominee has already been selected and because of our stupid winner-take-all electoral vote system my vote for either candidate is meaningless.

    Party primaries are a legacy of an antiquated system of governance and a superstitious reverence for the 'two-party system'. They are no where found in the Federal or any state constitution that I'm aware of, yet in most political subdivisions in Texas (as in the nation) primaries are the only elections that matter! That's just crazy.

    For a nation that prides itself on maximizing individual "choice", we have a political system that consistently forces us to choose between bad and worse. I voted for Obama in 2012 not because I thought he should be re-elected, he didn't, but because the only alternative was Romney. Yuk.

    After more than 200 years, I think Americans deserve real electoral choice instead of being straight-jacketed into a bipolar political system that no one seems to be happy with. Let's dump the non-constitutional primaries and elect lawmakers who represent our values and political beliefs in proportion to those that hold them.

  84. And what have you done to get better candidates? Have you ever gone out and worked for a candidate for any office, even at the local level, that you thought was qualified? Have you offered support to anyone who was thinking of running? Or do you just wait until you get to the polling place, look at the ballot, and say, "None of them are any good?"

  85. @kd - I am actually a Democratic county elected official in Dallas and have been a rabid partisan since 1979. So the answer is yes. After 35 years experience and given the widespread public dissatisfaction with our form of government it's clear that our system of party primaries and winner take all elections are undemocratic, constrain voter choice and result in elected officials who represent only a small fraction of their constituencies. Instead of wasting time trying to reform a dysfunctional obsolete system, why not use our Amerucan ingenuity to create something new?

  86. The whole rotten two party system is government provided ersatz democracy. There are no real political parties running ideologically consistent candidates nationwide in the US.

  87. I think it is time that we force our elected officials to discard state funding of primary elections.

    Let us face facts.

    By "hosting" these elections we are underwriting a process that runs contrary to our values as a republic and empowering the entrenched two parties.

    Make the Parties pay their own freight and select their own candidates.

  88. I say first get rid of voting districts for House members. In each house election, the same slate of candidates are put before every voter in the state. If a state is allowed N representatives, then the top N vote getters are elected. A citizen could then lobby the representative in their state who most closely matches their beliefs. This would eliminate the gerrymandering problem forever.

    I imagine this is too big a move of the food bowl to ever catch on.

  89. Not going to work. The most likely outcome is that all N would be from the same party. Congress would have no California Republicans, and no Texas Democrats.

  90. Vermont has an at-large representative (i.e., 1 district for the the whole state), but it would be totally unworkable in California, which has 53 congressional representatives.

  91. This idea might work in a less populous state like Vermont. But in a geographically large and diverse state like California with its 38 million residents there's a real need for local representation. California's sheer scale is comparable to a substantial European country. Under your proposed system, southern California would choose virtually all of the state's representatives with the Bay Area probably managing to squeak in a few. Central California--still the nation's bread basket and culturally distinct from the more populous coastal zones--would have no representation.

  92. Sore loser laws are a side issue. The root of the problem is money in politics, because candidates without vast amounts of money can't afford the media coverage needed to get their names known to voters. A constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United would at least begin to address the root of the problem.

  93. Although the ability of those with more money to out-influence those with less is a major problem in politics, sore loser laws are not a side issue. They are another, related issue, likely tied to the money-in-politics one but clearly separable.

  94. Tell me if this summary of your logic is accurate. 1. A large amount of money is needed to be successful as a politician. 2. Limiting the amount of money available to a candidate would "begin to address" this problem.

    How would limiting contributions do anything other than handicap the candidate that is able to raise money? One of the unfortunate possible consequences of your advice could be that the public's preferred better candidate loses.

  95. Overturning Citizens United would just disenfranchise union members . Limiting the money poured into campaigns by groups such as Crossroads GPS and Priorities USA would cut media buys, but that only strengthens incumbents.

    No limits should be placed on campaign contributions. No contributions should be tax deductible, and all should be disclosed. Union dues used for contributions should be taxable income to members. We need to get to a floor without unforeseen consequences to solve this problem.

  96. Fortunately, election laws like those in Texas allow state political parties to dash, lemming like, off cliffs of extremism. Texas will return to Democrats within a decade with the help of Lemming Leaders, Cruz and Perry.

  97. I hope your right!

  98. Joe Lieberman is not a good reason for getting rid of sore looser laws. And free for all elections would most likely lead to more extremism not less as the most focused part of the electorate (usually the most partisan) would have a real advantage in money raising and simplified message dissemination.

  99. "Money money money money mooooney ... "

  100. Mr Edwards advice to the political universe does not quite rise to the level of a pig in a poke, but is irrelevant to the real problems dogging the modern incarnation of the GOP. The only way to reform the GOP is for moderate voices, like Mr Edwards, to abandon the party and thus isolate and magnify the extremists.

  101. Consider an open primary. The top 4 have a run off to determine the final 2 to be on the ballot with all 4 candidates limited to how much can be spent and radio and TV ads. Better yet repeal the sore looser laws.

  102. I think party primaries (or however else parties decide who should represent them) should be solely the responsibilities of the parties, with no government funding or involvement. Then there should be an open primary, with all candidates meeting some minimal criteria, such as a certain number of valid signatures on a petition. Then the top two candidates would go on to the general election.

    This effectively eliminates the sore loser problem. It also would likely reduce the influence of political parties in elections and make the candidate himself/herself more significant. That doesn't bother me since I don't think much of either major party anyway.

  103. Of course the resolution to all of this is to count the popular vote and let anyone run that has the money and the time. AND to cap campaign financing at something reasonable.

    Of course if we did that it would be more difficult for big money to put it's man on the throne as it were and the majority would rule. So we can't have anything that equitable for the people.

    Besides that, it makes sense.

  104. It comes down to choices. I may find the President to be extremely conservative, but the other choice was Mitt Romney.

  105. I appreciate Mr. Edward's efforts to restore some semblance of balance to elections. When he was in Oklahoma I remember disliking him for being a Republican but nowdays he is almost a liberal Democrat compared to what we have running for office. Keep up the good work, Mickey.

  106. Personally I would not consider the fact that Joe Lieberman prevailed in Connecticut over Ned Lamont to be testament to the beneficial nature of an sore-loser candidacy. The ACA would have been a lot better law had not Lieberman had such a large hand in its making.

  107. The problem wtih the proposed method of letting the losers run again as independents is that you end up with ballots with lots of candidates. Then you have the choice of either risking electing a person with e.g. only 10% of the vote, or having to go through additional elimination rounds, the very thing the primaries are supposed to avoid. Anybody who wants to be a participant in the primaries and the political conventions can do so, and so it seems that the lack of democracy stems not from the process itself but from apathy.

  108. Try looking into the politics of the progressives in Douglas County, Colorado. A loss by their chosen has continued the hate dialogue they used during the pre election.

  109. 'Course, Cruz and Lee will both likely be re-elected by big margins.

    The problem's not this or that particular process. The process is an ignorant electorate who are easily manipulated into voting their tribal fears and not the good of the whole.

    And the plutocrats (who've paid for all those manipulative ads) then laugh all the way to the bank.

  110. "American Democracy" - what is that? We are a Nation of States founded in 1776, whereas America is a hodge-Podge of wilderness founded by Colombus. States have forever been chartered to select its representatives.

  111. I probably have a different criticism of the term "American Democracy"…

    States must follow the U.S. Constitution, even in selecting representatives; and the U.S. Congress does not have to accept them.

  112. In Utah, 320 party activists did not "effectively make a decision on behalf of three million people", only 161 did.

  113. If the complaint against sore-loser laws is that political parties should not be able to exclude any candidate for the general election, would there be a method or reason for political parties to exclude from their primaries any candidate they think would run as a sore-loser?

  114. While I agree that the national parties deserve no special, reserved place on any ballot, I don't think the public can be expected to foot the bill for someone's losing a primary and then running again in the general election. Nor should the dutiful voter have to endlessly reconsider a candidate who has failed to win adequate support. (I think I'll kill myself if I have to evaluate Ralph Nader gain.) Some cutoff mechanism needs to make sure that votes--and nothing else--puts them on the general election ballot.

  115. What, exactly is the cost associated with a candidate? Election materials will be printed anyway, plenty of room on the ballot - the only incremental cost would be the half page (or less) description in the voters guide. I think we can absorb the hundred dollars or so incremental cost to ensure that people actually have the full range of choices. It might be different if everyone voted in the primaries, but that doesn't happen.

  116. You omitted one of the juiciest examples. In Indiana, DIck Lugar was defeated in the primary by a Tea Party candidate, who then lost to a Democrat in the fall. Though as a Democrat I'm happy about how this affected the balance of the U.S. Senate, losing a moderate statesman like Dick Lugar wouldn't have been my chosen way to go about it. Lugar was the only Republican I've ever voted for. I didn't agree with him on many things, but I believed that he was working in the best interests of the country, with a well-informed perspective on foreign policy. The fact that he was able to work cooperatively to get things done was held against him in the primary, but I think we see now that we do need Congress to actually get things done.

  117. If there open primaries then you know what the outcome will be right? Leftists Democrats will vote in Republican Primaries across the land for the weakest candidate and boom! Democrats own America. Republicans can do the same thing and let's be honest... the John Edwards or Elizabeth Warrens of the world are more incompetent than those who the Ted Cruzes of the world.

  118. Elizabeth Warren more incompetent than Ted Cruz? Forget the fact that it is a demonstrably silly statement, even if it were true, what has that to do with
    "sore loser" laws? And the weakest candidates, ie Democrats, will own the world if open primaries are the rule? The logical conclusion is that voters prefer the "weakest" candidates. Not much faith in voters here.

  119. Then what's your objection to the idea?

  120. Thank you for highlighting Utah's Mike Lee fiasco. We are in the process of collecting signatures to put a citizens' initiative on the 2014 ballot that would end the caucus system of electing the party candidates that will appear on the general election ballot. Your piece makes me wonder if that initiative includes a "sore-loser" clause. I need to check on that.

  121. There be the tangle, Janet writes in a clear concise manner while the Texas commentators write in I don't know what. Ted Cruz? Really.

  122. One example you failed to mention. Is In NY State in 1980 Jacob Javits lost the Republican Primary to Al Damato but was on the NY General Election Ballot under the Liberal Party Line. New York got Senator Pot Hole and Elizabeth Holtzman went down to defeat.

  123. The problem isn't so much a minority group of people who elect extremists to office, it is all those other people who stayed at home. Democracy requires participation. I'm tired of editorials that bemoan this law or that procedure or even money for the state of our governance. Put the blame squarely where it belongs and tell the American people to get off their lazy duff, get educated about the issues and vote!

  124. You're,right! We often take our Democracy for granted& therefore we get a dysfunctional government.We Must vote in every election!

  125. Ms Gaw, are you suggesting that it is a civic duty to associate with one of the two entrenched political parties', and thereby vote in their primary. I thought civic duties applied to the general election.

    The issue described here is simply that primaries are dictating an outcome in the general election that would have been different without these laws. Participation in general elections is not the issue being discussed here.

  126. "it is all those other people who stayed at home".....Wrong. I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican and therefore I am prohibited from voting in the primaries held in the state of New Mexico even though the tax payers are paying for the elections. The two party primary system is a very bad idea.

  127. By far the best solution is California' s open primary law.
    1. It insures, even in one-party States like California or Utah, that the most important election will take place in November when the most voters are paying attention.
    2. It gives everybody who can collect a reasonable amount of signatures the chance to air their message in a broad primary forum.
    3. Parties can maintain their distinctiveness through conventions. Only candidates endorsed by a convention can put that party's name next to theirs on the ballot.

  128. Two choices:
    1. Open "non-partisan" primaries, in which all candidates run. If one candidate gets over 50% of the vote, he/she wins it all. If not the two highest vote-getters run in a general election. This would take care of the sore-loser problem.
    OR
    2. Let the parties be parties, let them pick their own candidates by whatever means they choose ( conventions, caucuses, smoke-filled rooms, whatever), and bag primaries. This system in years past was a times exploitative, but at other times gave us candidates like Lincoln TR (as VP), FDR, and Eisenhower( when the primaries might have given us Taft or Dewey).

  129. The open primary is the only way we will be able to remove the hands of the Koch Brothers and their ilk from the neck of "We the people..." It is through the mechanism of the open primary that the people will be able to vote for the two candidates that will face off in the general election. Two Republicans or two Democrats or two progressives....the open primary would seriously limit the impact of the Radicals on either side of the political spectrum.

  130. Gerrymandering also must be eliminated for democracy to prevail!

  131. All the Poor Losers have proven is that they were unfit for office as their prefer disrespect for the people and for the office they sought!

  132. Strange as it may seem, what we have to do is get the political parties out of the electoral process.

    I have long asked, to no avail, why party-based primaries are public elections funded by the state. And if they do exist, why are such primaries open only to members of the specific parties? Why are there laws that 'govern' political parties at all? If group of like-minded individuals (Republicans or Kiwanis members - what's the difference?) want to propose one of their own to run for an office, it's their business to do so. Caucuses and nominating conventions make sense; party-based public elections don't.

    Why is party affiliation noted in my voter registration?
    Why can't I belong to more than one political party? Why can't I participate with Democrats to advance socially liberal causes and candidates and with Republicans to advance fiscal sobriety and Greens for environmental protection?

    We need three things to open the political process:

    1) Open primaries, no party affiliation considered, and probably second and third choice voting among final elections of more than two candidates;

    2) Non-partisan redistricting to prevent gerrymandering based solely on political concerns; and

    3) Tripling (at least) the size of the House of Representatives to move the people closer to their government.

  133. Great piece. I'm all in favor of giving democracy the widest application possible. Now, can we please get rid of the regressive, undemocratic, anachronistic absurdity of the Electoral College. As a Democrat living in Texas, my presidential vote has been rendered null and void for the past five or so presidential elections. The candidates don't even bother to campaign here, one of the largest and most populated states in the union. Instead they spend all their time in places like Iowa and New Hampshire. This is not democracy. Let's make it simple....if you get the most votes, nationwide, you win. What a concept!

  134. Why only Connecticut, Iowa and New York and what can we learn from them I wonder?

  135. Aside from the obvious advantage of protecting a government regulated duopoly over political power, what is the justification for such a sore-loser law in the first place?

    Nobody likes a "sore loser", and so it seems obvious that a sore loser would never succeed in a general election; a fact which would dissuade people from trying.

    However, if someone were to lose a partisan primary and win the general election, it would be hard to classify them as a loser nor would it be easy to explain to a democratically inclined mind why that would be a bad outcome.

  136. There is a much better solution. We need to move to a single open primary system where all the candidates run against each other and everyone is allowed to vote; with the top two candidates facing off in the fall general election. The present two party primary system is unfair in that it favors the extremes and disenfranchises voters in the middle. In some states (New Mexico as example) independents are not allowed to vote in the Democrat or Republican primaries that are funded by all the tax payers. The single open primary would end the present government subsidy of the two political party system, and encourage candidates that run to the center rather than to the edges.

  137. While I don't argue with the main thrust of your editorial, your example of the 2012 primary in Texas is flawed. I know both David and Ted and I voted for both. David is no moderate. David is a great Lt governor. The reason that David lost was 2012 was a redistricting year. The legislature did their job, but the Obama Justice Department took Texas to court. Our regular primary date was was changed to May and the run off was in July. This threw the voters off and May saw temperatures in the 90's and July was over 100 degrees on average. Ted won. In November I voted for him. Ted has 6 years to show the Texas voters whether he represents the state well. I believe the shut down was a mistake, but Ted still has over 4 years to go before he faces reelection. I hope that he does a good job.

  138. To try again to make the point of the comment that, for no reason I can see, did not get posted:

    The human mind is binary by inclination. On-off, black-white, male-female, Republican-Democrat. Historically, when a third party rises, if it doesn't fade away it displaces an existing political party, as Labour displaced the Liberals after WW I in the UK. The founders repeatedly warned against 'faction', yet within their lifetimes political parties had formed. Note that their original plan for the presidency was to have the runner-up become VP, which gave them Pres. Adams and VP Jefferson, and would have given us Pres LBJ, VP Goldwater; Pres JFK, VP Nixon; Pres Nixon, VP McGovern; and similar very odd couples. A few posts here suggest open primaries or multiparty systems, but experience and thought suggest you'll wind up with the same either-or. Coalitions will stagnate into clumps and eventually clot into large parties. And there will be two: As WS Gilbert put it, every boy and every gal who's born into the world alive is either a little liberal or else a little conservative.

    Not sure what was wrong with the first effort but this should be OK.

  139. I disagree. It's not the sore loser laws or primaries, it's the simple fact that most don't vote, and those that do are not informed by any substantitative data. The media refuses to vet their 'favorite' and continues to spew only positives in order to gain the support of low-information voters.

    Most that vote couldn't even tell you about the cadidates they voted for, other than 'they were Rep' or 'they were Dem' or 'they were female' etc. etc.

    Frankly, the cost to operate primaries and run-offs truely are high now. How about the media, starting with the NYTimes, actually vet potential candidates OBJECTIVELY so that once a primary starts we at least have a basic working knowledge of the truth about a candidates background?

  140. I would like to see a law that requires any candidate ads to deal specifically with what THAT candidate is going to do for the voter. Currently 99% of the ads are all about what's bad about all the other candidates running and frankly I turn the negative ads off as soon as they come on. Stop telling us what is wrong with everyone else and start telling us why we should vote for YOU. Obviously they have nothing to crow about so they resort to slinging mud. And, that goes for all politicians - not just one party.

  141. “What matters is . . . giving voters the fullest range of choices when it comes to selecting their leaders.”

    I agree. That is if by “fullest” Mr. Edwards refers not just to that slim, overlapping segment of the ideological spectrum spanned by the Republican and Democratic parties.

    ‘Two party system’ is a rather benign term for the powerfully entrenched machine that is as much our political system as ideological filter.

    Though I’d encourage any step toward a less subjective system, I suspect the argument is nothing more than a chess move in a match to which we aren't privy - despite it being played on the board we own.

  142. "What matters is the restoration of American democracy: giving voters the fullest range of choices when it comes to selecting their leaders."

    I think this formulates the problem incorrectly. We should not design our institutions to maximize the number of choices available to voters, but rather to maximize the leverage voters can wield over the behavior of our leaders.

    All government is oligarchical (with the power to make day to day decisions on behalf of the government resting in a few hands), but in a democracy that power is limited by periodic competitive elections and what political scientists call the "rule of anticipated reactions." Since gratitude in politics is a "lively sense of future favors" the election with the most impact on a leader's action is the next one, not the previous one which put that leader into office.

    Primary elections are a bad way of selecting nominees, since most voters only know the candidates through the media rather than personally. This puts a premium on the ability to purchase TV air time. Also, it is the more extreme members of a party who will turn out for a primary, which forces candidates who want to win to flip flop after winning the primary if they want to win in the general election.

    We would get better candidates and fewer fanatics if we resumed letting party activists select nominees, hopefully not in smoke-filled rooms. But primaries are a "democratic" sacred cow, so we need to make them as harmless as possible.

  143. Hey. How come we're just talking about Republicans here? Is it just because the NYTimes doesn't like the choices made on the ballot? And how come you are outraged by Cruz winning by 'just 600K votes in a state of 20%2Bmillion' when almost no one even voted in the mayoral race in NYC, yet you continue to spout how he 'won by a landslide?'