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. Interesting times. The power brokers are shuttering. Director Comey may make them even more frightened. Hillary will not be elected President. Trump probably will.

  2. It looks like a contest in the general election between Hillary and Trump. If nothing rotten comes out of the barrel on either one then the election can be decided upon….. Upon what? Party lines? Where are the lines? Are they drawn in the sand? Are they drawn in the gutter? Am I to vote for Hillary because she is a Democrat when I think she has some Con leanings? Am I to vote for Trump because he is a new con not an ex con? Republicon I mean. Will he steal from the rich to help the poor? Will he milk the bulk of us to help the elites? Tank God he did not go to Harvard or Yale.
    I predict that Hillary will have a scandal. Trump will be triumph Trump. The parties will keep on keepin on. A third party will emerge. The name still escapes me. Whig maybe. Lincoln Party. Not Cadillac Party.

    Ah, the good ol days of Harry Truman. Give em Hell Harry! And all the way with LBJ. Days of old when knights were bold and condoms weren’t invented. They tied a sock around….

  3. The current primary system is more symptom than cause of our problem.

    Woodrow Wilson was our first anti-democratic President, who believed the people were dumb animals needing to be led by the enlightened few.
    It’s only gotten worse since then.
    The two parties are now merely left and right sides of the same coin: autocratic statism.

    The Constitution is clearly dead at a federal level.
    Obama, the IRS, EPA, and even minor agencies like the EOC now rule by decree.
    So will the next President, and the agencies will strengthen their stranglehold..
    Even SCOTUS operates on party lines; the law is whatever they say it is this week.

    We’re not the USA anymore, so changing the primaries will do nothing.

  4. No one has ever been elected with negatives as high as Trump’s. And in spite of all the press and advertising to the contrary, Politifact rated the most honest candidate to be…Hillary Clinton.

    The GOP is in freefall, and personally I can’t wait to hear the thud. Trump will never be president. But it’s starting to look like Hillary will.

    1. PhillyT writes, “No one has ever been elected with negatives as high as Trump’s. And in spite of all the press and advertising to the contrary, Politifact rated the most honest candidate to be…Hillary Clinton.”

      Ask the daughter of Berta Caceres whether she thinks Hillary should be president:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhtNhfv0K60

      Hillary means more regime change, “repression and impunity for corporate interests.” If she wins, you’ll get your unending status quo.

  5. Establishment, oligarchy, special interests, insider manipulating, call it what you will: the US system of electing its representatives is the shame of the democratic world. The first move is to remove private funding from the operation beyond $10.00 per registered voter. The second move is to create laws that punish representatives severely for taking any monies, favors, or whatnot before, during a campaign, or after, from special interests, lobbyists, or whomever. In other words politicians must not be for sale.

    While developing the institutions to regulate the ‘no private purchasing’ regulations and enforcements, the control of the freedom to vote should be established, from the federal government on down, not by local systems.

    When everyone has as much freedom and facility to vote and the choices are based on substance and not a purchased media machine, perhaps the US can move back in the right direction. As it stands it is the laughing stock of the democratic world. And, Canadians still make up more than half of NHL hockey players.

  6. Our system of governance does not include the right of the people to select their candidates for office. We have the constitutional right to vote for representatives, senators, and persons who then select our president and vice president.
    The current system of primaries and caucuses while seemingly more democratic than the old system has spawned very bad unintended consequences. For openers it has generated an almost unending money-driven political circus which starts roughly one year before the conventions of the parties. For another it has opened the door much wider to the participation of candidates who are almost totally untrained in governing at any level: Trump, Cruz, Fiorina, even Obama. There have been such untrained candidates in the past but also “well-trained” ones such as the two Roosevelt’s, Truman, Carter, and even Nixon.
    Since there is no evidence that the system of primaries and caucuses produces better Presidents than the old “smoke-filled-room” system there are incentives to come up with a better selection than our current one which is the political analog of Russian Roulette in every State.
    Among the current crop there are only two candidates who have been members of an administration, State or Federal. Ms. Clinton and Mr. Kasich. The others are bloody amateurs. Within the Democratic party there is only one other politician who has had more political training than these two combined and that is Mr. Biden. Bush, the Republican candidate who can make some claim has flopped.

    1. Dieter writes, “Within the Democratic party there is only one other politician who has had more political training than these two combined and that is Mr. Biden.”

      This just goes to show that political training isn’t everything.

  7. One of the core problems is that politicians are seldom truly qualified for senior offices on the basis of suitability, merit, and benevolence. Instead many participate within a spoils system that runs on money and influence where the political party holds the strings.

    These two presidential candidates are also demonstrating what could be the way in which the political parties are finally broken. The current system completely prohibits third parties from elections. The only way this morass of corruption that is the duopoly can be drained is for someone within the ranks of either party to rise to the top and when in office fracture their party from within. Once this has happened, the person then draws people toward a new political policy that draws the average voter strongly toward this new platform. Next, he/she causes underlings in the old party to migrate toward the new platform whereupon he establishes a new party and leaves the old a skeleton of its former self.

    I suspect that Mr. Trump will do this in some form if he assumes the presidency and the Republican party fails to see that if it doesn’t radically change its positions, it will be left behind and be cast into a relic.

    Unfortunately for Mr. Sanders, he is facing a complete political machine supporting a very damaged and dubious candidate that is Hillary Clinton. And his party in many regards views him as an existential threat to the status quo and the moneyed interests that fund her campaign.

    In some ways I think many of the Republicans would prefer Hillary Clinton to win the presidency simply because they would rather see an establishment candidate that will not rock the boat beyond the bounds of which the duopoly has created for itself in its own club. Better to have Hillary Clinton now and wait four years than to have someone usurp the status quo.

  8. Justice Holmes

    What took you so long?Democrats I know gave up on Jimmy Carter in favor of Ronald Reagan, then became independents after throwing in the towel on Bush 1. It is obvious we wouldn’t be in this mess today had more of us revolted not today but a generation ago. Denial is a mechanism that gets you to the bottom.

  9. Hillarymail

    Someone with the IETF should write RFCs for this–perhaps:

    RFC 8000: “A process for unsecured, unencrypted transfer of government electronic messages to home private networks”
    RFC 8001: “A protocol for retrieval of secret state department email from home brew servers by clandestine organizations and foreign states”
    RFC 8002: “Wiping messages from home email servers using a cloth”

  10. Only half? How sad! Poll must be wrong. How much more blatant will the rigging have to become before the rest see it?

  11. How is Dump anti-establishment if he’s been proudly buying politicians for years.

    He’s the grease in the damn machine.

  12. Counting votes in each state needs to be uniform. No electronic vote counts, and no voter suppression: Congress can criminalize a pot plant in Ms. Raich’s backyard, but it won’t regulate super-delegate usurpation, the hours of polling stations, registration of party members, nor whether each party’s nominating process is open or closed to non-party members. There’s some fundamental fairness fer ya.

    As for voting for Shillary on a lesser of two evils homicidal ideation, she and Obama have supported the slaughter of one too many people in one lifetime for me to vote for the status quo. To them and their ilk, the world is a banana republic, ripe for the taking. It’s obvious to everyone but the ignorant and the selectively ignorant that things need to get worse before they’ll get any better, and if he wins by a split in the liberal vote Donald Trump is just the guy to get us there.

    I’m voting on principle for the person I think would make the best president and that person is outside the corrupted major-party merry-go-round. I’ll let the chips fall where they may.

  13. I agree with BamBam. I sort of agree with Ash. They all will piss off as long as they are alive–whether sitting down or standing up. Perhaps Hillary is not his candidate because she does is sitting down. Both Hillary and Trump are ahead in their respective parties because of votes cast by the public not because of Super Delegates. Perhaps the way to run elections is to have the federal govenment impose and electorial system (not a college) which is the same in each state and which allows people to come to the paper ballot polling booth and write down: a Party, an office up for election and a person they choose. We can call this The Three Prong solution. Each Party will come out of the election as being recognized and then having persons winning the choice within that Party. We might have six Parties in Maine and six candidates. In the General Election the state of Maine will stay mainly in the plane and each voter can pick up the Ballot in the voting booth and choose one candiate from the six parties for each office. The Ballots get counted twice and a person from each Party observes the counting. The Ballots get saved for posterity and for the law suits or zuet suits. No more voting machines. Not as much Machine Politics. If you do not like Machine Politics then vote for a non machine Party. Machinists have many choices. Don’t let the flowers fool you and don’t vote for or against Hillary because she is a woman and don’t vote for Trump because he is a frump.

  14. I think it’s folly to reward bad behavior this time while hoping they will fix the problem next time.

    They have made me vote for the lesser of evils too many times.

    I will not vote for Hillary Email Clinton.

    If that elects Trump, that is the Democrat’s fault, not mine. They’ve taken me for granted and burned too many bridges. They can piss off.

  15. That “wildly unpopular” candidate, to whom you refer, continues to win one primary after another. Keep pushing the “wildly unpopular” line, even as he succeeds in chalking up the victories. This has nothing to do with whether one does or does not support Trump–that’s irrelevant. Declaring that a candidate is wildly unpopular, when the proof, before our own eyes, conflicts with that assertion, is relevant–not to mention, troubling. You need not like, admire or endorse Trump to simply acknowledge that yes, he is, like it or not, wildly popular.

  16. Agree with the sentiment of your post. But how many of those who are whining about the system being rigged and aren’t too busy keeping their nose above sea level economically have done anything other than whine?

    You can’t sustain a republic or a democracy by sitting back and expecting things to take care of themselves. The oligarchs and power freaks take over if you let government run on autopilot.

  17. As a life long Democrat I can tell you that I have never been so outraged at the party. The DNC since Obama’s election has become almost unrecognizeable in both its policy positions and its tactics. Obama ushered in a era of corporatism and petty Chicago style policies that will take a long time to clean out if it ever happens. Its reliance on big corproate money and big corproate support is breath taking. Clinton is the candidate that is going to finalize the lock of the oligarchs on our country and her gender is giving her cover. The petty ways in which she and Wasserman Schultz are punishing hard working members of the Congress who have dared to Support Sanders is disturbing to say the least.

    Obama’s election was supposed to be a turning point a time of change..and it a way I guess it was he has transformed the party into a corporate centered engine of constant gifts to corproate big wigs. TPP, the one thing that Obama was willing to actually fight for is not only anti worker but anti-democratic. His willingness to stump in Europe for TPP and TTIP has left most Europeans confused and deeply outraged. What king of progressive is this, they ask. The answer is easy. He’s not.

  18. Great article–sums it up, completely true. The “establishment” is desperate at this point to keep their charade going, but people are sick of it. I’m not voting for Trump or Hillary. And it is ironic that the D’s are less democratic than the R’s and that the Hillary supporters, so delusional, are apparently hell-bent on getting Trump elected. That Clinton-Bush et al shadow cabal just has to keep its lock on the world. Hello, Jill Stein.

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