In the world of United States politics, for those seeking to sit in the seat of the highest office in the land, this date has been circled on their calendars.
It is circled because eleven of the fifty states that cast electoral votes in the general election hold their primaries today. Essentially, today is the day where over one-fifth of the States’ Political Parties will choose who to support. Add the handful of other states that have already had their primary or caucus and today is historically a day when a candidate begins to separate from the pack.
After “Super Tuesday,” we will at the very least have clear front-runners for each Party. One candidate from the Republican Party and one candidate from the Democratic Party will emerge as a favorite and begin to shift their politics even though still half of Political Parties in States have yet to officially lend their support to a candidate.
Before today, candidates from both Parties were attempting to appeal strictly their Political Parties. Their views were seen as radical to some, but they had to be. They were, after all, attempting to appeal to their Party as a whole; which includes moderates and extremists alike.
After today we will begin to see a shift in their politics. Most likely we will begin to see a shift closer to the center. The two candidates that emerge will now run their campaign on a more national front in the attempt to attract the moderate, undecided and the people who do not identify with either political party. Those are the voters who essentially will put our next President in the White House.
This primary/caucus season has certainly been unique. Voter turnout for the primaries and caucuses are at record levels, and when I say record levels, they are demolishing the normal voter turnout for primaries and caucuses. Generally, only about ten percent of registered voters will vote in a primary or caucus. This year, we have seen voter turn out spike upwards of fifty percent, and even higher in some states.
The reasons are quite simple:
The White House is completely up for grabs. There will be no incumbent running for reelection. The incumbent advantage does not apply this election year.
We also have such polarizing figures. Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. We have other candidates still in the mix, such as Marco Rubio and John Kasich, but they are not as polarizing as the above mentioned.
I have spoken with my fellow educators and they have told me tales of children in schools actually crying at the thought of Donald Trump as President. I have heard many discuss the issue of Ted Cruz and his origin of birth. Bernie Sanders is an admitted Socialist, and his plan for America has a lot of people scratching their heads if he can actually accomplish what he claims he can do for the country. Finally, you have Hillary Clinton, who, while moderate in her views, is polarizing because:
- She’s a female
- She’s a Clinton
In states with open primaries, a primary where a registered voter can choose to vote in either the Republican or Democratic Party primary, many registered and even unregistered voters are voting not for the candidate they support, instead, many this election year are voting in the other Party’s primary to vote for a candidate they feel is the lesser of two evils. Some Republican’s are choosing to forgo voting in their Republican Party primary and are voting in the Democratic primary to either prevent or help Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders win. Likewise, many Democrats are flipping sides temporarily to vote for anyone but Trump. Their hope being that if a candidate like Marco Rubio were to win the Republican nomination and eventually the general election in November, they would feel more comfortable with him in office as opposed to Trump or Cruz.
States with closed primaries; where you have to be a registered member of the Political Party to vote in the primary do not have the luxury of temporarily switching sides to help prevent what they may feel is a potential mad man or mad woman leading the nation.
It is interesting to see this election season that political strategy has gone outside the realm of the candidates themselves and in to the hands of the voters. This is another reason why the voter turn out is so high for these primaries and caucuses; people are re-gaining their political efficacy.
After today, we will most likely see a wider margin for the front runners from each Political Party. After today, people in other states will be more likely to be swayed by the outcome of today/tonight’s final tally and toe party lines as dictated by the results. The respective candidates that emerge victorious after today will have a tremendous amount of momentum going forward, which will allow them to begin their national campaign. They still may need to fight off a close challenger within their own Party, but the fight will be a lot easier to win after tonight.
Tomorrow begins the real campaign for the White House. Tomorrow the gloves will come off for both Party’s.
Seeing how how the voter turnout has been during this primary/caucus season has amazed a political scientist/teacher such as myself. I can only imagine how high the voter turn out may be in November if the expected results actually come true. If we truly do end up having a Clinton vs. Trump race, I would expect the voter turnout rate to approach, if not surpass seventy percent; which has not been seen since the late 19th century in this country.
For some, no matter who the candidates are, they are terrified what will happen in this country come January 20th, 2017.
If this kind of race does not excite you, for the potential good or the potential bad, and help you regain your political efficacy, then I’m not sure what else could. One thing is for certain though, whether we vote or choose not to vote, we all will be watching this race unfold closely.
Author: Adam Wilkinson
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