Poll: Half of Americans View Primary System As Rigged and Undemocratic

Freedom_of_SpeechWe have previously discussed the bizarre situation of two candidates (Trump and Clinton) with historic negative polling numbers emerge as the frontrunners for the general election. Six out of ten voters say that they are unwilling to vote for either Trump or Clinton. Now a new poll shows that over half of American voters believe that the primary system is “rigged” and more than two-thirds want a new system for electing their leaders. What is remarkable is how detached the system appears from the voters. The GOP primary is advancing a candidate with high exceptionally negatives for the general election. In the meantime, the public is in open revolt of the “establishment” so the Democratic leadership has lined up to guarantee the selection of the candidate who is the ultimate establishment figure.  Now one-fourth of voters are saying that they will stay at home rather than vote for either of the frontrunners.


It is ironic that the GOP race appears the most responsive to voters. While Trump has huge negatives with the general population, he is clearly the anti-establishment candidate. He was able to crush a series of establishment figures and he is correct that the reason is the demand for a radical change in the system. Trump is the face of such change.

Many young people, including many of my students, view the Democratic party as a lock for the establishment this election despite its counter-establishment image from the 60s. While Clinton clearly has support among some core democratic voting groups, the independent and young voters are particularly estranged from her and the party. Many are not likely to show up in November though the Clinton camp is betting that most will ultimately come back into the fold.  Trump has already generated more votes than any Republican in history and he believes that he can produce the same record numbers in the general election.  If true, the Democratic establishment could ultimately have engineered the one candidate that might elect Donald Trump. The fact is that we simply do not know. While incredibly popular with many GOP and independent voters, Trump is wildly unpopular with many groups in the general public.   He has clearly tapped into this movement and the establishment seems in denial. Turnout is down on the Democratic side but the Democrats believe that they can win the “lesser of two evil” voters. As exciting as that uncertainty will be for commentators, the majority of voters are right: we have a system that has become dysfunctional and unresponsive to the majority of citizens.

I have previously written about reforms that we need to make in our system. However, the resistance of the establishment to change has never been more clear during this period of growing anger and unrest. The chilling fact is that these polls appear to have little impact on the parties. The isolation and unhappiness of the majority of the voters in this country seems immaterial.

While this is not a pure democratic system, it is supposed to be a representative democratic system where leaders represent the voters. It is that feeling of being unrepresented that is driving the passions and unpredictability of this election cycle.

What do you think?

94 thoughts on “Poll: Half of Americans View Primary System As Rigged and Undemocratic

  1. PhillyT writes, “After the populace nominated George McGovern in 72 and the Dems lost in a landslide they decided that “never again” meant for them that they had to wrest control of the nominating party from the hands of the people and get it back in the hands of the party insiders. Hence the superdelegate process. The Republicans prefer to seize control by voter suppression methods, screaming about non-existent voter fraud, purging the roles, trying to implement new poll taxes and bring back their other favorites from the Jim Crow era.”

    From the 2012 primary/caucus season:

    “Across 100 Miles of Ocean

    “The two major political parties are completely absorbed in self-perpetuation and only serve the narrow sector of powerful elites and corporate interests that fund and thereby control them. Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz observed that the US has a government “Of the 1%, by the 1%, and for the 1%”.

    “The two party system which was originally created in 1860’s to exclude newly emancipated blacks from political participation was now being used with unlimited corporate money to exclude the 99% from political participation. To maintain the duopoly the Two Parties collude to exclude Third Party candidates from ballot access and debates, thereby limiting voter choice and real debate. The Two Parties still go through an elaborate charade of holding an election; however, they mainly differentiate themselves over social issues which are of no concern to the corporations, such as guns, abortion, the death penalty, and gay and immigrant rights.

    “The Republicans position themselves as the defenders of white American cultural values. By conflating the freedom of individuals with the freedom of huge corporations to make profit and by appealing to the vulnerabilities and racial resentments of poor and working class whites, they cruelly and cynically dupe the poor and working class white supporters into voting against their own economic interests. The Democrats remain only as nominal defenders of progressive values, trotting out Dennis Kucinich every four years to convince any straying Democrat that there is at least one good progressive among the bunch and duped their constituency in 2008 with an empty and cynical promise of ‘Hope and Change’ . . . ”

    http://blogs.umb.edu/joinercenter/2012/05/29/across-100-miles-of-ocean/

    You’re going to make that mistake again?

  2. “Consumer-Voting” with your purchasing power is far more powerful than voting in elections, so don’t get too depressed by corrupt elections.

    Spend money with the companies, products or services that support your goals. It far more powerful than voting and regular Americans actually support many of the same things regardless of party.

    For example: buy Bruce Springstein albums if you support LGBT rights or buy Apple computers if you support privacy rights, etc. Spend your vacation dollars in Vermont instead of North Carolina.

    That’s real voting, not elections!

  3. stevegroen

    Thanks. I get what you’re arguing against. I don’t see what you are arguing for.

    I’ll take meager hope and change over blatant fearmongering any day. Since the southern strategy went into play, it’s the only move other than white-pride jingoism that the Republicans have, Fear the Negro! Fear the Gay! Fear the pervs in the bathroom with your daughter! (Sure to be this year’s fave). Fear the terrorists! Fear the people coming to take your guns! Fear the loss of your white privilege!

    I think Bernie could have done some real good. And if the system wasn’t rigged this way, he would be both the nominee and the next president. Instead we will get Hillary and keep muddling. Still way better than Drumpf, but pretty awful.

    • PhillyT: Hillary will continue the slaughter. That’s much worse that just “pretty awful.”

      What I’m arguing for is devolving from the notion that the lesser of two evils is better than voting for someone who can’t be elected because she refuses to be part of our two fascist parties. We all got sucked in by that last time. Put principle before murder and people before markets.

    • stevegroen – if the article is that important, repost it. I am a registered Independent. I don’t have my tail in anyone’s mouth.

  4. With all of the shouting, posturing and pure insanity in this election, most everyone has missed a pretty startling fact. That is, the presumptive Dem nominee, Lady Macbeth, is more hawkish than the presumptive Rep nominee, The Donald.

    • Nick – there is a report that to date Hillary has 200,000 fewer primary votes than she did in 2008 and she is doing worse in competitive states. The Donald has already set a record for the most primary votes for a Republican. The riot in CA where Donald was trying to speak is probably going to up the total a great deal. Governor Moonbeam has been holding on to CA, but the train to nowhere may be too much.

  5. Paul, I am certainly no fan of The Donald. But, he is bringing out the fascist side of Dems. That was on full display yesterday in NoCal.

  6. Elmer Fudd
    1, April 28, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    Trump was talking today in Indiana about jobs going out of America to Mexico and elsewhere. It is true. How do we reverse this? Who is running for office that has stated he/she will reverse it? How important is this?

    The jobs are going to Mexico because of NAFTA, the trade bill signed by Bill Clinton who was elected after Pappy Bush couldn’t get it passed. TAPP is another trade bill that will send more jobs overseas and again lower the worker and environmental standards to the lowest possible denominator. Sanders and Stein are the only candidates who have been unequivocally opposed.
    —————————————-

    stevegroen, Bernie had to register as a Dem in order to run in the party primary. He can vote however he sees fit (and get away with it unless the NSC snoops in the voting booth, too) He can run as a Green if the GP chooses him as its candidate. Greens do not like to endorse Dems but exceptions do happen. Bernie’s history as an independent and his GP-like positions are well known He can run as an independent regardless of his party registration, but I doubt that he will because he won’t make that decision soon enough to get on the state ballots. He also has to consider his position in the Senate should he lose the Presidency and the retribution that the Dems are capable of handing out.
    —————————————

    As to the voting in NYS, there are at least two lawsuits demanding an injunction to keep the election from being certified 5/5. One demands that the provisional ballots be counted because of the number of deleted registrations. The other challenges both primaries because the party rules of closed primaries violate the NYS Constitution.

  7. I am amused with the whining about the system being rigged. I would love to know how many of those upset with the system truly understand “the system”? I wonder if they understand the concept of power and how one becomes powerful. I would like to ask them if they have become involved or intend to become involved in the party which best reflects their political philosophy. After all, if one sits on the sideline and complains, how can they expect to have any power to wield or have a voice in directing the direction of their party?

    People are electing to not participate in the process. Some will first become Independents before they decide to opt out. Instead of actively participating, they sit on the side and complain and wonder why no one listens to them.

    People seem to think the parties are all top down. Few seem to know the history of how the political parties have selected candidates. Should we really be expecting this to be a “democratic process” where anyone of any political persuasion can opt to vote? Why is it “rigged” for Republicans or Democrats to select the candidate which feel can best carry the standard for them without the input of members of the opposing party and/or Independents? Why should this be a “youall come” process?

    We are loosing the meaning of the parties and the vote is for the person you like the best. We are voting on personality and emotion rather than the principles/political philosophy of the party. We set ourselves up to be disappointed. We need to get back to understanding not only the differences but the similarities between us. We need to stop this selfish polarization and understand that having a good government is the work and responsibility of all of us. We need to get off the sidelines and get back in the game.

  8. Of course it is undemocratic. The Electoral College is bad enough but the election of delegates who can choose to vote for whoever they wish is problematic.

    This results in fewer people having a say. It is far easier to get 1000 people to vote for you instead of 150 million people. (or whatever numbers)

    Those 1000 people will have different reasons for selecting a candidate then the nation as a whole would.

    Reasons that could be much more in the self-interest of the 1000 instead of the interest of the nation.

    • Leonard C – some states, like Arizona, require their electoral candidates to swear to vote for the candidate they are standing for. However, if they didn’t we can’t shoot them.🙂 Still, it is a start.

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