With two recent events, it is time to reevaluate the caucus system. Chris Herrod, the winner of the Republican Special Convention, lost by almost 11% in the GOP primary to replace Jason Chaffetz. Count My Vote has announced that they will seek a ballot initiative to completely get rid of the caucus system in 2018. We must examine how to keep the caucus system alive and relevant or we will lose it.
Many are trying to find ways to close any other path to the GOP nomination with Herrod’s defeat. SB54 has allowed candidates to gather signatures to get on the ballot. They are no longer required to run through the convention system. Shouldn’t we be more worried about its very survival? If it survives, how do we keep it relevant?
I have written previously about how we shouldn’t depend on our monopoly of the caucus system to force it on voters but we need to make it so the voters trust the results of the caucus system.
Is the signature path to the ballot bad? Perhaps the competition will help us improve the caucus system to better represent what the general party wants.
Why we need the caucus system
In theory the caucus system can be extremely beneficial. It makes money less influential, allows for multiple rounds of ballots, better interaction between voters and candidates, and even helps the races be more friendly.
Money less influential
The caucus system allows for people to run for office at a much lower cost. This helps reduce a barrier which might otherwise keep out some very qualified candidates. Although money can definitely help, I haven’t seen it be a deciding factor in a race.
Because of the limited number of delegates, candidates tend to spend a lot less money on mass communications, such as flyers. Instead they spend more time on individual communications such as cottage meetings and personal phone calls.
Multiple rounds of ballots
As there are multiple rounds of voting at convention, the caucus system allows for many more candidates to run, without taking votes away each other.
Instead of the initial highest vote total winning, candidates are eliminated each round. Their supporters are then free to support another candidate. This means that a candidate must have at least 50% of the remaining vote to win.
What if there was another round of voting between the two top candidates in the CD3 primary? Who would have been the second choice of Ainge’s supporters?
Better voter candidate interaction
The caucus system also allows for interested people to have much more interaction with the candidates. As I said before, candidates are much more likely to make personal phone calls to the delegates instead of spending money on flyers. That personal interaction can help you understand the candidates much better.
You get to know the candidates far better because of the limited number of delegates. The candidates get far more meaningful interaction with the delegates as well.
Races are also much more friendly as well prior to the convention. Even if you aren’t somebody’s first choice you want to at least be their second. How would this race have been different if each of the three primary candidates were trying to win the second vote of the voter?
Now these are all very positive things with the caucus system and if we want to keep it then we are going to have to make some adjustments. If we make the right adjustments then we can save the caucus system and keep it relevant.
Results can be found at https://electionresults.utah.gov/elections/uscongress/3
Efforts to eliminate the caucus system can be found here http://utahpolicy.com/index.php/features/today-at-utah-policy/14085-count-my-vote-readying-2018-ballot-initiative-to-eliminate-caucus-convention-system-for-nominating-candidates
Previous article on the caucus https://www.utahpoliticohub.com/two-paths-sb-54-republican-party/