Last week Utah's Republicans and Democrats met in their biennial caucus meetings. Some groups advised potential delegates on ways to possibly "game the system" to increase their chances of being elected.
Our Republican insiders think Utah's caucus system is fair, while Democrats think it's too easy to manipulate the process.
Do you think Utah's caucus system is fair, or is it too easily manipulated for political gain?
|Republican insiders||Democratic insiders||UtahPolicy.com readers|
|Utah's caucus system is fair||67%||11%||70%|
|Too easily manipulated||32%||89%||30%|
Some anonymous comments:
"Any system can be manipulated. While not purely "grass roots" I prefer the kind of ground-war campaign required to be successful in a caucus more than an open primary where money and geographic concentration are rewarded."
"It's just like lobbying. The groups wouldn't be spending the money and having all the little training sessions unless it worked. Both Hatch and Freedomworks were very open about their manipulation attempts."
"Back room/LDS ward-driven pre-determination has driven the Republicans too far to the right. We see it across the major population centers, and, worse, in outlying communities."
"The caucus system should be done away with and go to a straight primary system."
"The caucus system is better than fair - it helps ensure that normal people can run. Imagine a direct primary for County Commission, or for state representative. There are 10 names on an open primary ballot. 8 of them are good candidates, but who don't have much money to put into signs, robocalls, mailers, etc. Who do you think will win? The one who spends the most money. Let's face it, 75% of the people who vote know virtually nothing about the candidates, and are too busy (and perhaps apathetic) to do any research. And with so many people, the candidates would have to resort to campaign tactics that cater to these kinds of voters. And that means the money wins. The caucus system allows candidates to focus on articulating their message to, and listening to, democratically elected neighborhood representatives."
"Candidates know how to work caucus systems. Utah has evolved, it's time to include voices from outside our caucus. Let's get a primary like the rest of civilized society. And please, no more State legislators 'bearing their testimony' to me about how patriotic the caucus system is. If something is patriotic, it should be something everyone can experience, not just white middle class males."
"The bottom line is that well-organized groups, even those with small numbers of people, can have a huge influence in local and state races disproportionate to the overall electorate. It is hard for me to justify allowing that level of power and influence in candidate selection to fringe groups. It seems to move both parties to extremes that are not representative of the majority of Utahns. The caucus system limits the choices of the electorate way to early in the process."
"The caucuses are the most difficult thing to manipulate. You would need to have a member of your special interest in every neighborhood in the state who was also well known enough in the neighborhood to be voted as a delegate. It simply doesn't happen. Those who want a different system, want it specifically so that their money can have more influence on the process in Utah."
"Caucuses are at the heart of our political system. They are the grass roots component, the only chance we have to gather with our neighbors and collaborate on responsible government, then elect someone to represent us at our conventions. The states that don't have a caucus system are, in fact, jealous of our access and process."
"I am personally frustrated by the attempt by the media and elite to paint the caucus system with a negative brush. It is blamed for everything from low voter turnout to corruption. To me it represents the essence of what it means to be American; small groups of people electing delegates to represent them in the selection of our parties candidates. Delegates voluntary give up many hours to serving their community. I would much rather have 10 informed votes make a decision rather than 100 uninformed one. Voter turnout has declined across the country not just Utah. It was high when we had the Caucus system so what has changed. The Caucus system is the last place to put blame on low voter turnout."
"I find that extremes are usually the most vocal and will make every effort to change things to greater extremes. I absolutely hate the fact that if you have a small turn out, it is extremely easy to manipulate. I like the concept, hate the reality of it. There is only an hour or two window to really attend. If you have to work, have sick kids, can't find a sitter, all of that works against the favor of the ordinary individual. With that said, a simple primary system would be simpler and would be more fair."
"There is an equal opportunity for both good players and bad players to game the systems. As long as the good players show up, they will always dominate it."
"I know my neighbors. I know who does the real work and who is manipulated/ being manipulating in my precinct. Anyone who can't tell the sincere ones from the wolves just needs to spend more time being neighborly outside of politics."
"Utah's caucus system is true representative government in action. It is politically active and motivated neighbors joining together under a banner of likemindedness and electing representatives to do the work of narrowing down the field of potential candidates for the best to be presented to the voting population. We are a Republic, not a democracy and this is the republic in action at the grass roots level and it is MUST be preserved."
"I've been going to my precinct caucus in American Fork. While there is more effort by candidates to ensure representation at the precinct level, I have not found my neighbors sucked in by orchestrated movements."
"Caucus are the most grass roots of any political process. You elect people that you know and trust to represent you. That is such a better process than a high priced primary where only the wealthy can have a voice in the process."
"The great thing about the caucus system is that it CAN'T be manipulated, unlike regular elections where the candidate with the most money can manipulate the election by burying his opponent in negative ads, spin the truth, and present an overall false impression to the mostly ignorant voters who participate in regular elections. There are almost no ignorant voters who participate in the caucuses."
"Our caucus system takes the power out of the hands of the big money corporate interests that control races in other states."
"The caucus system is a good idea. It helps prepare candidates for the voters and allows for candidates that don't have the resources to still mount a campaign. However it still can be manipulated."
Respondents include -
Fred Adams, Stuart Adams, Jess Agraz, Scott Anderson, Patrice Arent, Bruce Baird, Tom Barberi, Heather Barney, Steve Barth, Jeff Bell, Tom Berggren, Mike Bertelsen, Ron Bigelow, Rob Bishop, Laura Black, Jim Bradley, Ralph Brown, Ken Bullock, Chris Bleak, Curt Bramble, Ralph Brown, Aaron Browning, Dave Buhler, Ken Bullock, Ric Cantrell, Maura Carabello, Rebecca Chavez-Houck, Kay Christensen, David Clark, Thomas Clay, Peter Corroon, Fred Cox, Lew Cramer, Gene Davis, Richard Davis, Brad Daw, Alan Dayton, Margaret Dayton, Mike Deaver, Brad, Dee, Joseph Demma, John Dougall, Randy Dryer, Donald Dunn, Becky Edwards, Scott Ericson, Jessica Fawson, Janice Fisher, Wendy Fisher, Lorie Fowlke, Ronald Fox, Jordan Garn, Luke Garrott, Dave Gessel, Natalie Gochnour, Robert Grow, Karen Hale, David Hansen, Neil Hansen, Joe Hatch, Jeff Hartley, Deidre Henderson, Lyle Hillyard, Randy Horiuchi, Ben Horsley, Bruce Hough, Scott Howell, Miriam Hyde, Allison Isom, Eric Jergensen, Mike Jerman, Roger Johnson, Michael Jolley, Gordon Jones, Leslie Jones, Kirk Jowers, Brian King, Scott Konopasek, Chris Kyler, Fred Lampropoulos, Douglas Larson, David Litvack, Larry Lunt, Matt Lyon, Ben McAdams, Gayle McKeachnie, JT Martin, Jason Mathis, Karen Mayne, Derek Miller, Rob Miller, Ethan Millard, Brett Millburn, Karen Morgan, Mike Mower, Holly Mullen, Wayne Niederhauser, Mike Noel, Ralph Okerlund, James Olsen, Val Oveson, Scott Parson, Kelly Patterson, Frank Pignanelli, Jason Powers, Joe Pyrah, Mike Reberg, Jill Remington Love, Lauren Richards, Holly Richardson, Robin Riggs, James Roberts, Luz Robles, Ross Romero, Don Savage, Bryan Schott, Jay Seegmiller, Patrick Shea, Randy Shumway, Soren Simonsen, Jeremy Slaughter, Carol Spackman-Moss, Howard Stephenson, Mike Styler, Todd Taylor, Juliette Tennert, Gary Thorup, Kevin Van Tassell, Royce Van Tassel, Michael Waddoups, Chuck Warren, Christine Watkins, LaVarr Webb, Todd Weiler, Alan West, Ted Wilson, Carl Wimmer, Mike Winder, Thomas Wright