OPEN PRIMARIES AND LOYALTY OATHS

Glenn Reynolds complains about “loyalty oaths” in the South Carolina primary. Kevin Drum dubs it the “dumb idea of the day.” Jeff Quinton, the Official Blog Chronicler of All Things South Carolina and Steven Taylor (here and here), who studies electoral systems professionally, weigh in as well.

It’s problematic. I prefer closed primaries personally, since the point of them is for parties to select people to represent them. Democrats were able to make mischief in the 2000 GOP primaries, voting for McCain even though they had no intention of doing that in November, because Gore had it locked up early. This time around, Republicans could do the same sort of thing in the Democratic primaries.

That said, I’ve had to sign tamer versions of that statement to vote in primaries before–essentially pledging to support the party’s candidate in November in exchange for participating. Totally unenforceable, of course.

Update (1517): Chris Lawrence has more, noting that the esteemed Southern politics poobah Earl Black echoes Kevin’s words almost exactly:

“It sounds like one of the stupidest ideas I’ve heard in a long time,” said Rice University political scientist Earl Black, formerly of the University of South Carolina. “This makes no sense at all. It just steps on the effort of South Carolina Democrats to create a situation to build the party.”

Update (1531): Jeff Quinton reports the oath requirement has been dropped under pressure.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.