by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Michael Barone writes for the Washington Examiner that the two major political parties might have benefited from trading rules for selecting their presidential candidates.
The unexpected success, forecast by almost no one 12 months ago, of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in winning 40 percent and 42 percent in Republican and Democratic primaries and caucuses is widely taken as evidence of raging discontent among American voters.
There’s something to that. But Trump’s better-than-even chance of winning the Republican nomination and Sanders’ success in pushing Hillary Clinton to the left owe something to another factor: Each party’s nominating process has proven better suited this year to the other party.
Both parties over the 44 years since primaries started dominating the nominating process have adopted rules that suited their separate and different historical character. They have often served their intended purposes. But not this year.
The Republican Party since its foundation in 1854 has been dominated by a core of people considered typical Americans — white Northern Protestants in the nineteenth century, white married people today — but who are never by themselves a majority of the nation. Republicans have to build on that minority to win and often have.
The Democratic Party since its first national convention in 1832 has been a coalition of disparate groups — white Southerners and Catholic immigrants in the nineteenth century, gentry liberals and black churchgoers today — with often conflicting goals. But when the Democratic coalition holds together it produces impressive majorities.
The parties’ nominating rules reflect these differences. Republicans have tended to favor winner-take-all delegate allocation, in the belief that candidates who win a plurality will be acceptable to, if not the first choice of, the the party’s core.