One of the interesting things to watch in the primary election in one week will be the difference in support candidates receive from Republican voters, compared to support they received from Republican delegates in county and state conventions.
The results will demonstrate how well delegates represent the views of general Republican voters.
The marquee race, of course, is the Republican gubernatorial nomination contest between Gov. Gary Herbert and challenger Jonathan Johnson. Johnson won the convention battle 55 to 45 percent. Survey research indicates Herbert may reverse that result in the primary election, or perhaps do even better.
If that is indeed the outcome, it will conclusively demonstrate that the views of delegates are very different than the views of the Republicans they are supposed to represent. We already have evidence that is the reality. We’ve seen many cases where mainstream legislative candidates barely made it through county conventions, only to easily defeat the more conservative convention favorites in primary elections.
A number of surveys of delegates and general Republican voters also show that delegates hold more extreme views on a number of issues than Republicans in general.
I’ve been a county or state Republican delegate numerous times. I’ve enjoyed interacting with fellow delegates. Delegates are good, committed people who take politics seriously and get involved. They tend to be more activist and more conservative than voters in general. They also tend to look like me: old, white, male. Women and young people are greatly underrepresented in delegate ranks.
They’ve also been gatekeepers. To become a Republican nominee, you needed to go through them, despite the fact that they aren’t representative of Republicans in general.
Today, however, thanks to SB54/Count My Vote, candidates can gather signatures to get on the ballot so all Republican voters have a say in who wins party nominations.
Let’s watch the gubernatorial race to see how closely the views of delegates and general Republican voters match up.
I believe the new dual path to party nominations makes great sense. The caucus/convention system still exists. Candidates who go through it have bragging rights. But no longer does a relatively small group of activists control the nomination process. Everyone’s vote counts.