Publications

Letting the Parties Decide Who Represents Them

By Laurin Schwab

The current primary system has lost sight of the importance of the parties themselves in the nomination process, and it's time to bring it back. The answer to the question of saving American democracy might be to have a less directly democratic, more representative democratic leadership in our political parties.

OVERVIEW

Our Solutions In Brief

1. Bring Back Superdelegate Influence

Democrats could retain the use of unbound superdelegates, and Republicans could adopt them in greater number—with both parties allowing superdelegates to vote on the first ballot for president at their party conventions.

2. Candidate Endorsements

Both parties could adopt nominating conventions that officially endorse the candidate supported by party officials. The endorsed candidate could appear first on the popular ballot, which identifies them as “officially endorsed.” Candidates who don’t receive at least 15% of the convention vote wouldn’t appear on the final popular ballot at all, which would screen out newcomers and people who are unpalatable to party officials.

3. Pre-Primary Votes of Confidence

The parties could hold “pre-primary votes of confidence” in which superdelegates trade their votes for one-on-one interviews with the candidates. After evaluating them, superdelegates would cast “pre-primary votes” for all the candidates they find qualified, with candidates who fail to receive at least 15% of these votes booted out of the televised debates but still able to compete on the ballot.

4. Limit Superdelegate Status

The Democratic Party should limit superdelegate status to only those who are serving, or have served previously, in elected offices. The DNC could then recruit more elected officials to make up for those who wouldn’t qualify, or amplify the votes of current superdelegates by 61 to 64%.

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Numbers At-A-Glance

  • 100% Increase

    in outside group independent expenditures in the U.S. House and Senate elections from 2010 to 2016

  • 0 Superdelegates

    voting on the first ballot in the 2020 Democratic primary

  • 4% of GOP Delegates

    approximated to be unbound, or free to vote however they like, in 2020

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