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A Compromise Between Primaries and Caucuses

Updated: May 15




Big Picture

The Democrats and the Republicans currently face a common democratic issue: poor voter turnout, especially during midterms. In a context where opinions are frequently polarized, the voice of every American is necessary to sustain democracy. However, voter turnout in primaries and caucuses remains low. 


Moreover, the primary voting process lacks public trust. Before the beginning of primaries and caucuses, more Democrats than Republicans were confident the votes were counted accurately in the GOP primaries, according to an Agency Press survey published in late December. Such results demonstrate the need for a primary and caucus reform to ensure the majority of both parties can trust their officials.


Since the 60s, fewer and fewer Americans feel a sense of belonging in their community. Social engagement and belonging have been in decline for almost 60 years. More than 50% of Americans feel a lack of communication within their neighborhood: Americans are becoming increasingly isolated from each other along political lines. These echo chambers amplify existing biases and discourage relations with those who contradict those biases, further exacerbating socioeconomic, ethnic and political differences. This dynamic amplified the allegations of fraud following the 2020 presidential election, fueling distrust among GOP members.


It is also notable that more states and territories are distributing their state delegates for the presidential nomination race by holding caucuses instead of primaries. Since the last presidential election in 2020, five more state and territory parties have decided to hold caucuses for a total of 13 in 2024. 


Operative Definitions

  1. Primaries: Election to select candidates running for a public office. Like a typical election, electors vote on a ballot for their preferred candidate. This process is managed by each state’s government. Referendums on local issues are frequently added to the ballot. Closed primaries allow only electors to vote in their party’s primary. Semi-closed primaries allow party members as well as independents to vote. Open primaries allow every voter to participate in any party’s primary.

  2. Caucuses: Meetings where members of a political party vote on the nomination of their presidential candidate, on policy proposals and other party affairs. They are held by the state party. 

  3. Voter turnout: Percentage of electors who voted divided by the number of eligible electors.

  4. Sense of Belonging:  Feeling the current environment is the “right fit” to allow an individual to pursue career and personal goals. Moreover, it is the feeling that the individual is a part of a system, a society or an environment. 


Important Facts and Statistics

  1. About 80% of eligible voters do not participate in primaries.

  2. Virginia, New York, Connecticut, Delaware and Mississippi are the five states with the lowest voter turnout in 2022, with 12% participation or less.

  3. 68% of Americans report non-belonging in the nation and 74% in their local community. This sense is mostly shared among Millennials and Gen-Z.

  4. Both the Democratic and Republican Party reinstated caucuses in Idaho and Hawaii along with reinstated caucuses in Missouri, Alaska and Utah by the Republican Party.


5-point plan 

(1) Implement semi-closed caucuses that would allow party members and independent voters to participate in the presidential nomination process. The Bipartisan Policy Center, a bipartisan think tank, published a report about the voter turnout during the 2022 primaries. Among their many conclusions, it stated that when more electors are eligible to vote during the presidential nomination race, it increases voter turnout. Moreover, the votes of independent electors also help pave the way for more moderate candidates. 

(2) Vote on the nomination of local and federal officials only during the caucuses, along with local referenda. Such as New York and Mississippi, many states vote for these nominations at different times, correlating with voter turnouts that are some of the lowest in the country. This decision would help electors focus on one group of elections instead of two or more, giving them more reason to cast their vote. Some may be more interested in voting for local elections while others for federal ones, but in each case, they will participate at the same time. Moreover, voting on local and national issues can promote a sense of belonging among Americans by facilitating greater involvement in local and federal issues.

(3) Organize multiple daily caucuses at various hours for a whole week. This proposition directly addresses the main problem of the caucuses: difficult accessibility. Holding multiple caucuses every day for a week allows more possibilities for electors to participate in the caucuses. Moreover, holding nationwide caucuses over a whole week instead of over multiple months would increase voter turnout. Many casual voters can get confused about their state voting day in the current presidential nomination race process. Holding many caucuses for a whole week would reduce confusion.  

(4) Electors vote by gathering behind their preferred candidate’s representative instead of on the ballot, like traditional Iowa caucuses. Many voters, especially Republicans, are skeptical that the votes in primaries are counted adequately. This point would solve their skepticism because they would witness the vote count.

(5) Distribute the state delegate proportionally to the percentage of votes received by the candidates. Proportional representation, instead of the winner-takes-all, results in higher voter turnout, mostly because it better represents the people’s will and no vote is considered wasted.


Why This Initiative is Important

Caucuses have been heavily debated since the 1960s for their rather undemocratic flaws, but they can be managed through this proposal that compromises American tradition and the modern world.


This proposal is tailored to resolve many democratic problems, such as lack of participation and lack of trust toward party officials while promoting a sense of belonging among Americans in their neighborhoods, communities and Nation.


Acknowledgment: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author.

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1 Comment


Jeff Hall
Jeff Hall
May 12

I like what you are saying, but let me ask a few things. If people have to line up in a public show of support for a candidate, what about the voter who doesn't want others to know how he or she voted? If voting occurs for a week and pollwatchers can see who is ahead/behind, mightn't that stimulate wild get-out-the-vote efforts that maybe don't represent popular opinion? How about a national holiday for voting day? If nobody works that day, there will be no excuse for not voting. One more: What if participants and/or voters saw their names entered into a lottery. Some lucky winner wins $1 million.

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