Primaries Mirror Parties
There’s an entertaining column from John Broder in the New York Times this morning on how the methods for selecting nominating delegates differs between the Democrats and Republicans and how this reflects the parties themselves.
The two parties’ nominating systems reflect the philosophical differences between them. Or, as a prominent Republican strategist, Mike Murphy, suggested, perhaps jocularly, in a recent appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Democrats are hung up on ideas of fairness and equity.
“Democrats, being the nice liberals they are, grade on a curve,” he said. “They give you delegates for coming in second.”
“Republicans,” he continued, “being mean social Darwinists, we tend to punish the second-place guy with a lot of winner-take-all primaries.”
In other words, the Republican who kills the buffalo gets all the meat; the Democrat has to crouch around the campfire and share it with his brethren and sistren.
These differences have resulted, as intended, with the Republicans rapidly culling the field while the Democratic race appears more unsettled with each passing day. And, also as intended, in the Democratic race the superdelegates, elected officials, party officials, and others influential in the party, potentially wield a deciding hand, much to the horror of some of those superdelegates themselves, who knew those were the rules all along.
“A reformer in office becomes an establishment figure by definition and then by definition resists the next round of reforms — it’s human nature,” Mr. Hart, a supporter of Mr. Obama, said. “They have an interest in protecting the status quo. That’s what superdelegates are, people against rocking the boat and taking a generational leap.”