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Thoughts on the Delegate System in Utah

My favorite whipping boy is at it again. Dan Jones and the Deseret News published misleading poll results again. You would think that they would learn from their mistakes, but since I am the only one calling them to the table, why bother, right?

In their latest poll findings, the Deseret News reports that Utahns don’t like that a candidate can be eliminated in the convention. However, again we must ask ourselves, “What was the exact question?”

And as with all polls that seem to have a problem, we see that the question is a little long winded. Brace yourself for this one; it gets a little long. I don’t know how the telephone surveyor managed to get it out without laughing or gagging. Here it is:

In both the Utah Republican and Democratic parties there are rules that say if delegates give any candidate 60 percent of the vote at the county or state convention, he or she wins the nomination outright and there is no primary. This means that candidates with high public approval, including incumbents, may not receive enough delegate votes at the convention to move on to a primary election where all registered voters can vote. Do you approve or disapprove of this nominating rule at the convention?

Whew! I will let you take a break. Here is the graphic that is posted with the article.

Biased Poll

Okay, we could focus on the fact that when calculating the margin of error this number could easily fall near about 50% which means that Utahns are really undecided on the issue.

But I would like to focus on the biased question. First, let’s look at changing the text a little. What if the Deseret News were to ask this:

In both the Utah Republican and Democratic parties there are rules that say if delegates give any candidate 60 percent of the vote at the county or state convention, he or she wins the nomination outright and there is no primary. This means that non-incumbant candidates have a greater chance at replacing an incumbent who has low public approval. Do you approve or disapprove of this nominating rule at the convention?

If this question were asked, I am sure that the numbers would be nearly reversed. And let me use another poll question from the same Deseret News article to support my argument. The Deseret News also published this survey results.

Another Poll

Isn’t it interesting the disconnect here. Almost the reverse, of the original question was shown. We go from 58% disapproving of the current delegate system to 56% approving the current delegate system. They only reason I can account for the difference is the bias found in both question.

In order for this question to have been unbiased all that needed to be done was remove the second sentence. Sure it would have still been long, but the bias would have been removed. Here is what the question should have been:

In both the Utah Republican and Democratic parties there are rules that say if delegates give any candidate 60 percent of the vote at the county or state convention, he or she wins the nomination outright and there is no primary. Do you approve or disapprove of this nominating rule at the convention?

If they had asked this question, then we would have had a better representation of what Utahns think. My person opinion is that it is a solid “I’m not sure.” I think that many Utahns are torn on the whole delegate system.

One example of this devision can be seen by reading the comments from my previous post. One commenter says that he will vote for who ever has the most votes, simply to try and avoid a primary. His argument is to try and save the candidate some money for election in November.

The other person claims that she will try to force a primary, because she wants the people to decide. They are both good arguments.

However, I feel that both of these are wrong. Don’t vote in a way that would manipulate the system. The system is there to try and work. If we manipulate it, then we will hurt the system.

The delegates should do one and only one thing. They should vote for the person they believe will do the best job. If that person doesn’t make it to the next round, then vote for your second pick, and stick with your candidate as long as you can.

Is the Caucus/delegate system bad? No. Is it flawed? Yes. What can be done to fix it? It’s simple, get more people involve. Okay, the answer is simple, but a lot of effort will be needed to get it done, and I think that 2010 has proven that a lot of people are interested in getting involved.

I say keep the caucus system. It has served Utah well. And I think it provides the best way for us to have informed voters who chose our representatives.

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2 comments to Thoughts on the Delegate System in Utah

  • AL

    Travis – I did not say that I wanted to avoid a primary to save money. The reason I want to avoid a primary is for a better shot at beating Matheson in the Fall.

    • First, your comment wasn’t the only source for my statement. I did mention your comment as an example of the reasoning, so I apologize if I misrepresented your view.

      However, part of the way we can win in November is with money. And by avoiding a primary we save money for the convention. So, I may have gone too narrow in my explaining the rationale for coming out of convention. But I have heard others make that argument. Either way I stand behind me belief that all delegates should vote for who they feel is best, and not try to manipulate the system. It is the healthy way to work it.

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