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. Steve, road-building is considered an essential government service, like the army and police. The mere existence of government action is not socialism.

    Sanders calls himself a socialist.

    Your definitions of socialism and capitalism are erroneous.

    1. KCFleming writes, “Steve, road-building is considered an essential government service, like the army and police. The mere existence of government action is not socialism. . . . Sanders calls himself a socialist. . . . Your definitions of socialism and capitalism are erroneous.”

      An interstate highway is not an “essential government service” to anyone who isn’t trying to hide the irony of government spending for the public good. Are there issues that are so important that we need the government to provide it as a government service or not? You call it an “essential government service” because you don’t want to admit that healthcare, inter alia, could be, too. That’s hypocrisy, but the two major parties make a living off of it.

      What’s more, perhaps local state highways are essential to a state, but that’s the state’s business. An interstate system is the federal government taxing and spending for the general welfare. That’s your definition of socialism, i.e., government doing something for people when they should do it for themselves. It’s also Bernie’s definition. It isn’t mine. You can’t have it both ways, especially when the tax and spend clause is explicit in the federal Constitution.

      And for the record, my definition of socialism is a private economic system whereby the employees of a company own the company, not attenuated shareholders with a profit-only objective. It has nothing to do with government taxing and spending for the general welfare, let alone the totalitarian cloak you snake charmers put on it for public consumption.

      Undo the schooling and think outside the box. Puhlease.

      1. steve – I think you are a lawyer. Does your secretary have a part of the firm or just the partners? Think outside the box.

  2. Bernie should request the U.S. Supreme Court to provide Judicial Review of the New York and California’s primary systems that excluded millions of voters from participation.

    The high court intervened in “Bush v. Gore”. These undemocratic primary systems seem to be blatantly unconstitutional and also affecting a presidential election.

    The fact is if we had a democratic “voter-based” campaign financing system, Bernie would be beating all candidates, of both parties, by large margins. He’s only losing due to the rigged primary systems.

    Even it the high court didn’t reverse the cheating in this election, it may help future elections from being gamed like this against the will of the voters.

    1. RB writes, “Bernie should request the U.S. Supreme Court to provide Judicial Review of the New York and California’s primary systems that excluded millions of voters from participation. . . . ”

      You mean like the ~125,000 disenfranchised in Brooklyn, Bernie’s hometown?

  3. The polling or assessment of voter sentiment is spot on. About half the electorate is not Democrat. About half of the Republicans and about half of the Democrats think that the system is rigged. Some of them are sailboaters and would not get on a sailboat that is not rigged. That aside, we can really only focus on what goes on in our own state. Take the state of Maine. It stays mainly in the plain. It does not want to adopt some system of determining the Democrat or Republican candidate like the people in Vegas do. Or like the people in Mass do. Maine and Mass are close in geography but far apart in thinking.

    I say: let Texas choose its method and let Arkansas choose its method of nominating candidates for the presidential voting. I also say that no state should deny a new political party the right to party.

  4. steveg:

    Bernie says he’s a socialist. He is on record as saying that a 95% tax rate is not too high. He’s openly anti-Capitalist. He might not be at the “papers please” stage yet, but he sure isn’t a fiscal conservative capitalist.

    When will people learn that nanny state socialism doesn’t work? You get a bloated government, run out of money, so the government will have to take over more and more and tax more and more. People who can flee, do so, so then they start building walls. All the while, the people are equal, equally starving that is, while the government ruling class lives the high life. Even Sweden backed away from nanny state socialism, rather than take the plunge further, because they ran out of money. And how many impoverished immigrants do they take in?

    I’ve said it before: socialism is a nihilistic experience. No matter how hard you work, you just cannot get ahead. You can’t get a better education and feed your kids more. You will always earn the same as the guys who sit home on the couch, whether you push a broom or engineer bridges. Working harder is pointless.

    The basic human instinct is for capitalism. A little old lady will take in kids to babysit, sell eggs, mend clothes, sell an extra goat, or whatever. Anyone with any time or skills will try to sell them to earn more money and better their lot in life. And in truly socialist countries, this is considered evil and illegal and your neighbors will turn you in.

    Just research how many families languish in the UK council housing waiting list, where you need an ever increasing amount of points in order to get permanent housing. Helpless forever. And that’s on the early, nanny side of things.

    Capitalism has raised more people out of poverty globally than any other system, bar none. Socialism, on the other hand, makes permanent helpless dependents out of everyone. When the USSR fell, the people were completely helpless about how to support themselves. The all powerful government had decided which region would make what. If you lived in A, then you mined coal and not a darn thing else. If you lived in B, then you fabricated steel and not a darn thing else. When socialism fell, and you wanted to design clothes, you had no idea where to mill the yarn, dye the cloth, buy the fabric, and construct the garment if you lived in a region that was not a clothing manufacturer.

    And YET, people just seem so dead set on propagating a system that has been the platform on which countries abuse human rights and are the worst polluters in the world.

  5. Not only have the majority of voters been ignored, but our unhappiness is mocked…by both sides.

    Women are disgusted with establishment icon Hillary Clinton, with her well documented history of lies. But rather than address those sincere concerns, you hear comments like “there is a special place in hell for women who don’t support other women”. (Unless they are conservative in any way, fiscal or otherwise.) And the Super Delegates all go to Hillary regardless of how Bernie does in the primaries. I do not support a socialist program at all, but I believe in democracy. He has the right to run fairly.

    On the Republican side, the GOP flagrantly works to undermine the inexplicable desire of the majority of voters. Although Trump is not my cup of tea, I believe in democracy. The Liberal media mocks Trump’s supporters as fringe old people who got left behind by all this wonderful progress, thus dismissing any valid concerns on the right. It also turns a blind eye to the wide range in ages, socioeconomics, and occupations of the anti-establishment movement.

    The Establishment Duopoly is basically deaf. Maybe if they all get thrown out they will be more responsive to the people.

    1. Karen, Bernie isn’t a socialist. He’s a New Deal Democrat (Noam Chomsky’s words); and a state capitalist (Richard Wolff’s words,. Ike was a New Deal Democrat (Chomsky again). Was he a socialist?

      As for the remainder of your post, Ted “Iowa has spoken” Cruz (groen’s words) picked a lovely running mate because he wanted the American people to have certainty. Despite being a tad premature, I think it was because he was losing his arse on his own. I guess he, Carly, and Kasich are going to triple team Trump at the convention.

      The Donald is just the right man to get us back to the New Deal after his four years of practicing his Mussolini facial expressions and terrorizing the world.

      1. steve – just because Bernie is to the right of Noam Chomsky does not mean he is not a socialist.

        1. Paul: Like Route 66 and those two east-west interstate highways running through your state? They were built by what you’re calling socialists.

  6. You nailed it Prof. Turley! And it is an incredible irony that the once great Democratic Party has descended to such a low point that its leaders are so out of touch and corrupt that they are in denial about the clear contempt working class and middle class voters have for the status quo they are so apparently in love with. Kudos to the Republican voters who, despite the concerted efforts of the entire corporate media and the Republican establishment have essentially dropped trou and told them to go f*** themselves! I’m not a fan of Trump but I certainly am disgusted with the corruption and drift toward oligarchy that corporate Democrats, particularly Hillary Clinton and her minions represent. The establishment of both parties needs to be thrown out on their asses. Trumps voters have had the guts to stand up and say so. The Democratic establishment has now revealed itself to be the tool of corporate special interests and predatory wealth too but identity politics has distracted Democratic voters from seeing that whether it is a woman or a man in the White House that represents big money they are still getting screwed.

    1. horuss – took a YouGov survey today that asked if Hillary had played the woman card too much.

  7. 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? It is 4:52 p.m. Eastern time. If you are on the East Coast and not at work it might be that you have lost a job because your company “went South” on you. It makes since or sense to vote for The Donald. So what if he might be an embare ass ment if some European leader comes for a visit and he jokes around? I am a Democrat but I am thinking about The Donald. Not the duck.

  8. bettykath, One of the biggest travesties is how the duopoly doesn’t allow 3rd party candidates to debate unless they meet some arbitrary and capricious threshold in the polls. That’s horse manure!

  9. We have one political party with 2 wings. The democrates need the republicans, and the republicans need the democrates. But they don’t need anybody else.

  10. Political parties were never designed into the American system, so it would seem unconstitutional to exclude any voter from the democratic process like New York and California do.

    The Framers of the Constitution designed a bi-cameral system (House & Senate) – not a bi-partisan system. Having said that, most constitutional experts agree that the Framers wouldn’t be opposed to MORE (not less) checks and counter-balances on power and wouldn’t be opposed to political parties.
    It would be a hard sell to say today’s political parties increase checks & balances on oligarchs and powerful campaign contributors.

    It’s also a hard sell to say a political party (never designed into the system) can exclude voters in the democratic process of a primary election.

    1. RB – as far as the Constitution goes, the Founders should have been more fore-sighted. Even with getting the Constitution signed and then immediately after, you had the Federalist and the anti-Federalists. They should have prepared for at least a two-party system or more.

  11. This race has changed my opinion about the primaries. I previously believed that only those registered with a party should be able to vote in a primary. I no longer believe that. More than half the voters in the country are not registered with a party but they haven’t all dropped out, they have disgusted out and refuse to participate in a rigged system. In those states that allow independents to vote, they have, but the parties are doing all they can to stifle them. The Democrats have rigged the system for Hillary, against Bernie. The Republicans are trying to rig the system against Trump. Some states allow independents to decide in which party they want to vote. Given the lock of the two major parties on our system, the independents need to take them over by being allowed to pick the candidates.

    I don’t know if Sanders has been mathematically ruled out, it’s unlikely he can win at this point. I’d like to see a Sanders/Stein ticket. It’s unlikely to happen. Sanders will join the unity movement and endorse Hillary. I’ll vote for Stein. She won’t win but it’s the most positive way to protest. Of course the Green Party hasn’t had its convention yet, so maybe she won’t be the candidate.

    1. bettykath writes, “I don’t know if Sanders has been mathematically ruled out, it’s unlikely he can win at this point. I’d like to see a Sanders/Stein ticket. It’s unlikely to happen. Sanders will join the unity movement and endorse Hillary. I’ll vote for Stein. She won’t win but it’s the most positive way to protest. Of course the Green Party hasn’t had its convention yet, so maybe she won’t be the candidate.”

      I’m voting for Stein, too. Bernie should be her running mate. He’s a Green in a donkey suit. Never again will I vote for a Democrat. The last seven and a half years of neo-liberalist slaughter has convinced me the Democratic Party is terminally ill.

  12. I started to follow Trump yesterday with his foreign policy speech and was very impressed. The man has a plan and the plan makes sense. It is not pie in the sky, just solid good thinking. It is actually what a lot of us (both left and right) have been saying on this blog about foreign policy.

    Trump has brought out Republican voters and we haven’t even gotten to the independents yet. Democratic voters are down and a significant number of Democrats are changing their registration to Republican.

    And there is a lot to be said for the lesser of evils argument. For some people, this may come down to voting for who they feel is less evil.

  13. Over half think it’s rigged and 2/3’s want it changed. Isn’t that precious. About 10% have a favorable opinion of Congress but about 90% believe THEIR members of Congress are just fine. The PEOPLE created this mess by their co-dependent behavior. The average voter has no idea what government SHOULD be doing nor do they care as long as THEY get what they want. The average politician these days has the ethics of a drug dealer. They “study” what their constituents want and then sell them on the promise they will get it. IF they deliver or can convince their constituents they didn’t get it because their political enemy blocked them from getting it, well they have just secured their reelection. Before the voter knows it, they wake up to being swatted, out of a job, assets seized, kid’s been drafted, school’s on lockdown, property taxes go up, can’t afford healthcare, or food, or gas and that’s a good day.

    And along comes Trump. He will MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN. Sure he will. And what has he ever said or done that convinces anyone he will respect the rule of law and separation of powers? I ask that because Congress has done nothing substantive about the current Executive and the PEOPLE will reelect 90% of them.

  14. Gee, if 60% of the voters want neither, how about a write-in campaign for Bill Gates.

  15. Clinton shouldn’t count on Bernie voters. Bernie voters won’t vote for Trump but many will do “write-in” votes for Bernie in November – if they vote at all. Bernie voters are disgusted with the rigged primary system and rigged campaign financing system. New York’s primary excluding millions of voters changed the game overnight.

    If there was a “citizen-based” system of representation, Bernie would beat all candidates by land slide majorities in both votes and funding.

    If Clinton adopted a publicly-funded campaign financing system (or a hybrid system) she would get the Bernie voters in November – assuming Bernie loses. Bill Moyers, Robert Reich and Congressman Sarbanes have detailed plans Clinton could adopt.

    Many Bernie voters won’t go to Clinton following the rigged New York primary and the upcoming rigged California primary.

  16. Just call ‘corporatism’ what it is- Fascism. Why create a new label for what it is? All that does is paint corporations as evil. It is Fascism. Corporations can be run by fascists, like a gun can be operated by a murderous villain, or they could be run by normal people- also much like a gun.

  17. What Darren said… “politicians are seldom truly qualified for senior offices”. But who is qualified? Politicians are advised by scholars and think tanks but the advisers are sponsored by special interest money. Competing special interests can sometimes offset each other but collectively operate in opposition to the public interest.

    Basically, men are not competent to rule over other men. That’s why people came up with the idea of a god and that’s why politicians typically claim an allegiance to an imagined god. As a result, politicians serve special interests, not the public, and the idea of god is irrelevant other than to give the public false reassurance.

  18. Why would the oligarchy that owns both parties (investment banks + the military industrial complex) — why would the oligarchy agree to reform anything? That’s why people are voting for Trump and Sanders. Thats why they voted for Obama to a large degree. The “peace” candidate. But he gave more war and more conquest. Americans dont want to rule the world. But the American oligarchy does.

    This will not end well. Eventually Americans will rebel and water the tree of liberty with blood as Jefferson said. I don’t know if that kind of Jeffersonian hate speech is still legal but eventually neither i nor anybody else will care what the stupid laws are in this phony alleged democracy.

    Applause for Bernie & Vote Trump

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