Consider, if you will, presidential primaries. For the first time in recent memory, the New York primary means something, especially the New York Republican primary. So let’s consider the New York primaries. Why not? They take place next Tuesday.
There was a time when presidential primaries were winner take all. It only took a plurality, if there were more than two candidates, for the winner to get all the delegate votes in that party’s presidential primary. The trend has been to change that, but the way New York has changed it is particularly odd to me. The rules are a little different in the Democratic and Republican primaries in New York and I’ll talk about the GOP primary which means a little more, because if someone else does really well, it might keep Donald Trump from winning the GOP nomination on the first ballot in Cleveland this summer. Polls suggest Trump will be the winner in New York, but that’s why we have elections, isn’t it?
While it’s no longer winner-take-all, it hasn’t progressed to one-man-one vote either. It might even turn out to be less equal than the winner-take-all way of allocating delegates. You see, in New York the delegates are apportioned based on election results in each congressional district. That’s where direct representation falls apart. Some congressional districts are heavily Democratic and some are heavily Republican. Let’s say in a heavily Democratic district in New York City (District D) there are 500 votes cast in the GOP primary and in a heavily Republican district somewhere upstate (District R), there are 5,000 Republican votes cast. Assume then that in District R, Donald Trump gets 2,600 votes. He then gets all three delegates from that district. If he gets 2,400 votes, he gets two of the three and Cruz or Kasich gets the other one depending on who finishes second. In District D, maybe Cruz gets 260 votes. He then gets three delegates. That’s three delegates for 260 voters vs. three delegates for 2,600 voters.
All other things being equal (and they’re not) it would make sense for the GOP candidates to concentrate on heavily Democratic districts and the Democratic candidates to concentrate on solidly Republican areas. Who thought this system up? Did anyone think it up? If someone did, it’s plain to me that they didn’t want New York’s delegates apportioned based on the total vote each candidate polls. If they wanted that, the votes would be counted statewide.
If you live in New York and are a registered Republican or Democrat, please vote on Tuesday. New York doesn’t have open primaries, so you have to be registered in a political party to vote in its primary. When you go into your local polling place, please vote for the candidate of my choice, or the candidate of your choice, but vote. And if your party is a minority in your congressional district, then your vote counts all the more.