Are Primaries, Caucuses, And Political Conventions elections? The answer is a big NOSubmitted by joeinmo on Fri, 05/11/2012 - 16:08
Lots of people here think that a primary or a caucus or a political convention elect candidates - they do not. They are giant broadway shows, they are meaningless unless you decide you want to participate. The government, including the FEC has no control over them.
Do political parties have to have a convention, primary or caucus to run a candidate? the answer is no. Do you need to be part of a Political Party to run in an election - NO.
A political party is a political club that is formed to run their club members as candidates against other club (party) members for the purpose of winning general elections.
During a primary - a state paid event where any political club can get on the straw poll ballot if they reach a certain predetermined percentage of the vote the previous Presidential election cycle, or petition to be put on the ballot. Officially the primary determines nothing but numbers of people and who they nominated.. It's a giant counting mechanism, but the state enforces nothing, the party organizations control the process. Even in California where they have a runoff from the primary, a candidate can skip the primary altogether and get petition signatures to run in the general election. So if you are running for a Senator spot with the GOP, If you lost, you could still run as an independent or even a write-in - look at the Alaska Senate race for example. However, a Presidential candidate is the exception because he/she is under Federal Law not state law, and therefore can always go independent, after losing a political party nominating process. So after a Primary many states will claim to bind their candidates to the primary, again what that really means is the primary is worthless, we the political party know it, so we are attempting to bind (create an election) when there really is none. Parties are not a constitutional right, therefore they are a meaningless club, you have a right to vote for a representative wether there is a primary or not. Eventually the primary leads to delegates selected at the state convention .
Caucus - This is funded by the political party, unlike a primary where the state does the numbers counting (not votes) and is funded by the citizens. A caucus does not really count poll numbers (some do like Iowa) but mainly the caucus function is to choose delegates for a Presidential candidate in a "nominating" process. What is a nominating process? It's a process where a political party sets up a system to tell the party membership in general this is who we prefer, pick him or her. A caucus just skips the primary process and goes straight to choosing delegates. How, depends on the state party rules, some county, so sometimes individual are chosen as delegates, other times via a slate (or group) of like minded individuals. So again, the caucus goers tell the party membership (those who call themselves Republicans) on a county level who their "preference" is for President by choosing an individual or slate to become delegates that think the same way. Those delegates then go on to state conventions and district conventions and basically say - our county prefers this Presidential candidate, what say you? Whoever has the candidate that gets the most delegate to agree on him or her then choose individuals or slates to send delegates to a National Nominating Convention. Votes have still not been cast, it's just preference for a particular nominee.
County, State and National Conventions
What are they? Nothing more than a big shows put on by the club (political party) - on the County, State or National level screaming to everyone this is who we "nominated" (not elected ) to be our club's best fighter for the general election. Look..look...look...see what we have! Legally they never had to use a caucus, primary or convention to nominate someone for the general election, they could have just said, "hey look America, this is our guy", but would you notice if there wasn't a state by state process. Probably not. Who did Gary Johnson run against? I consider myself politically savvy and I have no idea. Now if it was Johnson vs Trump vs Palin vs Bush, you might pay attention.
A delegate cannot be bound to a candidate because it was never an election, only states hold elections during a general election. Those "votes" count, if a political party does that, there was no legal process to "elect" and that's why the National Party does not allow binding of delegates, that's illegal. There would have to be rules enforced by the state that say exactly how a party elects. There are none. Political Parties can change rules anytime they want.
So the bottom line is Primaries, Conventions and Caucuses do not elect anyone, they suggest a preference of those who consider themselves members of the particular political club on a particular day, in a particular year.
Think of it as a football game, you are a fan of a particular football club. You buy clothing, decals, memoriablia, season tickets, etc. of that Particular Football club. You can be a fan by watching your club playing against another club, at home, at a sports bar, or you can participate at the game itself. You do not pick the team, the football club does, however you can prefer that the team goes in this direction or that by voting with your dollars or wether you watch the game or show up. Except the Packers, you can buy stock in that team and own it.
The AFC (Democrats - sorry AFC fans) and the NFC (Republicans) are divisions within the same company, the National Football League (USA) - there is really little difference between the divisions, maybe one has more domed stadiums. But the ultimate goal is to win the NFL Championship (The Presidency).
These are clubs
Ultimately the NFL