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The Path to the Presidency: Does our primary election system work?

By John Vettese, Student Voices staff writer

With a complicated network of primary elections spread out over almost five months, debate pops up from time to time about whether the system needs to be reformed.

Some think that the states with the earliest primaries – Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina – have an unfair amount of influence over choosing the nominees. In the 2008 election, which was closely contested, some states tried to move their primaries earlier in the season. The states of Florida and Michigan actually set new dates, and those states’ Democratic and Republican Parties were penalized for holding their primaries early.

The idea behind the ordering of the states in the primary is that the states with the greatest influence in the primary election cycle are the ones that are most demographically representative of the country as a whole. But other factors come in to play behind the call for change – including money.

To be successful in primaries, candidates need the ability to campaign heavily across several states, buy advertising and organize campaign offices. During primary season, you’ll probably hear a lot of commentators quibbling that Candidate A has visited your state 15 times while Candidate B has visited only eight times. You may be bombarded with ads from one candidate, but not from others. All this requires money, and critics say that the system favors the more well-heeled candidates while candidates with less funds falter.

A variety of alternatives have been proposed. For instance, some advocate for a national primary election – similar to the national general election – where all primaries are held on the same day. This could level the playing field in terms of influence, but would favor the well-funded candidates even more, since it would require all would-be nominees to campaign in all 50 states at once.

Other plans involve regional primaries – where the Northeast, South, Midwest and West regions all vote on the same day, allowing candidates to concentrate on smaller sectors of the United States in one period. A variation on this would rotate the order of the primaries so, for example, the South isn’t the first to vote every election season.

What do you think?

Does our primary election system need reform? Is it fair to give Iowa and New Hampshire such influence? Do primaries favor the well-funded candidates? Do you favor changing the system? How would you change it? Or does it work the way it is? Join the discussion!
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Comments
11/4/2016
Washington, New Jersey
Shannon Gallo
Mrs. Rokosny, Warren Hills Regional High School
I think it is extremely unfair how much influence Iowa and New Hampshire on the primary election system. With a having primaries so early on, these states have the effect of persuading swing states for their state primaries later on. This is unfair because all states should formulate their own opinion on the candidates, not base their choices on such influence states such as Iowa or New Hampshire. Pushing back on this, this also affects the election by practically pre-determined by the early primaries decisions as well as their followers. To change this I think the primary system should be changed by either changing the states primary dates every year so the same states don't always have their primaries at the beginning and so they don't have such a big influence on swing states and other states primaries.

11/4/2016
Washington/NJ
Cheyenne
Mrs. Rokosny/Warren Hills Regional High School
I think that the current primary system needs to be reformed. Its simply not fair for New Hampshire and Iowa to have such a big influence. The current process disregards a significant portion of the country.They get to pick who will be the candidates for the presidency through the primaries and caucuses. Essentially they set the tone for what the primary season is going to be like.

11/4/2016
NJ
Jack Z
Mrs. Rokosny
The primary election in this country are important because the voters get to choose who they want the presidential candidates to become the party’s nominees in the general election. However, I believe that all states should have open primaries, or even blanket primaries so there could be more people participating the election process. States should not have caucuses or closed primaries because they exclude the independent and undecided voters. The people who are independent and undecided voters are the majority compared to the hardcore political activists so it is hard to tell if the Democratic nominee and the Republican nominee were chosen democratically and directly from the people.

11/4/2016
Washington/NJ
Sarah
Rokosny/Warren Hills
I believe that our primaries themselves should be changed. Our system is very well organized, but on the other hand it would be more fair to have all primaries hosted at the same time and held for the same length of time, rather than state by state rules. This also applies to the presidential election, which also should be more organized time-wise. States and candidates should all have equal influence on voters. This would make it easier to tally votes and get election results at the same time, rather than waiting for individual states and building up suspense. Iowa and New Hampshire are equal to the other states in all other respects, so, they should be equal when it comes to voting in the primaries as well. Primaries do favor candidates with more funding which is unfair because other candidates could possibly have better potential in office, just less money.

11/4/2016
Washington. NJ
Cassidy
Mrs. Rokosny Warren Hills Regional High School
I believe our election needs to be reformed because it gives some states an unfair advantage. They only visit the primary states, not others, thus not spreading the word of their campaign equally. It's not fair to give those two states such influence because some candidates will waste most if not a lot of their money campaigning in those designated states to win the votes. Primaries should be more focused on states with a majority of undecided voters. They do focus on well funded candidates because the candidate that puts the most money into campaigning in the state is usually, but not always, the one to win that state over.

11/4/2016
Washington/NJ
Anna
Rokosny/Warren Hills Regional High School
I think the primary election system does need reform. It is not fair that some states can vote and create such influence because of how early they have their primaries. Also it is not fair that only extremely wealthy people can run because being a candidate requires heavy amounts of money. I think that regional primaries might work more evenly and fairly. I think there is too much weight on timing and money. It would be calmer for the candidates and they could visit even more states. Also it would prevent the same states from voting first every time. I think the primary election system does need reform, but I am not one hundred percent sure how exactly it should change.

11/4/2016
Washington/ New Jersey
Anna
Mrs. Rokosny/ Warren Hills
I believe that our election system needs to be reformed, because of the way that some states have more power over another. States like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina have an unfair amount of influence over choosing the nominees in the elections. Meanwhile states like New Jersey have minimum power, because by the time June comes around the country is already set on who will be nominated. The primary election system also excludes the independent voters who do not want to affiliate themselves as Republican or Democratic, when it comes to a closed primary especially. Therefore many do not vote in the primary elections, because they do not want to affiliate themselves with a specific party. The primary election system does not work, and must be reformed to attract all voters in the country.

11/4/2016
Washington/ New Jersey
Brie
Rokosny/ Warren Hills
I think that the primary election does not need reform. The system we have been using has always been used and it has not caused a major issue. Some might say that the states with the earlier primaries have the advantage in choosing the candidates, but really, every state has their own say and every state is also given an equal vote. No matter the order, no state will be looked at over another and every state's voice will be heard. It is up to the candidates as to where they put all of their money into, when, and how. For example, Chris Christie put a majority of his money into campaigning in New Hampshire (one of the early primaries) and he did not even win the primary. This left him with no campaign money left to go on. This is a good example because it shows it does not matter how early a primary is or how much money one puts into it, that the vote will always be the vote, and that every state does matter.

11/4/2016
Washington/New Jersey
Dana
Mrs.Rokosny/Warren Hills High School
I don't think the Primary Election system is perfect, but I think it would be difficult to reform and make it so. It is unfair to give Iowa and New Hampshire such influence because they are the first caucuses and primaries. However, the financial burden that having all primaries on the same day would pose on less wealthy candidates is also unfair. I think that candidates should receive the number of electoral votes they win, rather than a winner take all approach. This is because, with the system the way it was now, candidates can potentially win some districts, but not the majority, and get no credit at all. Basically, the system is not perfect, but it seems to be working alright for us now, so some small changes might be necessary, but not huge ones.

11/4/2016
Washington,NJ
Alexa
Mrs. Rokosny, Warren Hills
If the results of the 2016 presidential nominees don't reveal that there is an issue with the over-complicated network of primaries, then wake up. If it is found that the early primaries are giving an unfair advantage to candidates, then why not just randomly shuffle the states per election? Before the next election (i.e. 2022) there will be a new set of states to run in without the worry of an unfair advantage in Iowa, New Hampshire, etc. I'm personally unsure if there is such a strong advantage in these early primaries, but the system is so complex and overwhelming to understand that it should probably have at least a few tweaks.

11/4/2016
Washington/NJ
Olivia
Rokonzy/Warren Hills
I do not think the primary election system needs to change. It has worked for so many years, but I do think that Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina should not have such a strong advantage and power over the primaries. Just because they have a large influence does not mean they should be able to essentially choose the candidates for the primary, just like how people with a lot of money shouldn't be able to use their wealth to give a candidate an advantage in a campaign.

11/4/2016
Washington, NJ
Brian
Mrs. Rokosny/Warren Hills Regional High School
I think the system should be reformed. I do not think it is fair to give Iowa and New Hampshire and those states such a big influence and that is unfair to the other states. Those few states should not have such an advantage over the other states and it should be changed so that states are considered more equal and more states have influence. The system should also be changed because the primaries do favor the more wealthy candidates and that is not fair either. The candidates can pretty much "buy" the nomination now if you have enough money and campaign enough. I don't think "buying" your way into political power is constitutional by any means so that should definitely be changed. One wealthy candidate dominating the race is not fair to all the smaller candidates and everyone else trying to win the nomination as well. These reasons are the reasons why the primary election system needs reform.

11/4/2016
Washington/New Jersey
Marsie
Rokosny/Warren Hills HS
I believe the primary election system doesn't work, states like Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina should not have the say and unfair amount of influence over choosing the nominees. It should be reformed because its not necessarily an equal chance at candidacy

11/4/2016
Washington/NJ
Danielle
Mrs. Rokosny/ Warren Hills Regional HS
I think the primary election system should be changed. Obviously the system needs to be reformed if some states have an unfair influence. Personally, I am a fan of the idea of regional primaries because this system rotates. The fact that it rotates would make it more fair.

11/4/2016
Washington, NJ
Julia
Rokosny, Warren Hills
I do believe that our primary election system is is need of reform. It is not fair to create an inequality between the influence of different states and we need to level it out more. The idea of proposing to hold regional primaries will allow the candidates to go campaigning region by region rather than state by state. Candidates will be able to concentrate on smaller sectors of the United States and spread out their campaign funds more evenly. If the order is rotated each election cycle, it would give equal opportunities to all states and candidates. Our primaries as they stand now, favor the more well funded candidates because they have more funding to purchase advertising. No matter what we do, each election cycle will end up favoring different states with regional primaries, but it will help to equal out all the states as a whole.

11/4/2016
Washington, NJ
Kate
Rokosny/Warren Hills Regional High School
I think that the primary system is fair as it is. I do not think that Iowa and New Hampshire should be given the opportunity to vote prior to the primaries in other states because that can easily establish an influence on who to vote for. The primary system is overall probably the most efficient way of nominating candidates. Its quick, easy, and fair. I don't think that primaries favor the well-funded candidates because there is no discussion in a primary to favor certain candidates. All names are on the ballot so everyone gets an equal chance to be nominated.

11/4/2016
NJ
Maddie
Rokosny/Warren Hills
I don't think our primary system works because it gives Iowa and New Hampshire such an influence. We should create a system where every state has an equal influence. Also, if it is reformed, it will give more opportunities for challengers and not favoring the incumbent.

9/1/2016
Murrieta, CA
Maurice
Mr.Jabro, Murrieta Canyon Academy
New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Iowa do not need that much influence it's not fair. I don't think the system should be changed, if it's changed we would have to change a lot of things to match up with that, it works the way it is now.

9/1/2016
murrieta,ca
jabro
Mr.Jabro
I feel the primary election shouldn't be reformed. Although Iowa and new hampshire have an unequal advantage over any other states. It id better than other rich candidates getting unequal votes because they are more wealthy.

8/31/2016
Sidney Montana
Mateya
Mr. Faulhaber
I believe that our election system needs to be reformed. It is simply not fair to favor New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina because the candidates are spending their money in those states to buy their votes. The way we have it now, their is no equality. All 50 states should have an equal vote. Advertisement is a big reason as to why the well-funded are favored more so than the not funded. Overall the system needs to be changed for equality between states. I do not think it is fair to give Iowa and New Hampshire such and influence. I believe every state should be seen by the candidates and receive equal information to make an informed decision on who to vote for. Yes, primaries favor the well-funded candidates. These states are favored by allowing them to vote early at the primaries. Just because these sates get to do their primaries first, the candidates come to visit them to get the best results during the election. I do believe in changing the system. Every state needs just as much equality and information as the others. To change the system I would change the primary election to a broader time period to vote. All the advertisements must also be giving equal amounts to all candidates.

8/31/2016
Sidney/ MT
Maddi
Mr.Faulhaber/Sidney MT
I believe the system needs to be changed. Its not fair to the people that arent well known or maybe not as famous or something do not have a good chance at winning. unlike the other who are well known for doing something so they automatically become ahead in the election. this needs to be changed.

8/31/2016
Sidney/Montana
Jordan
Mr. Faulhaber/Sidney High School
I do feel our primary election system is in need of a reform. It is not fair that Iowa and New Hampshire get to set the momentum of the primaries for the rest of the states. Primaries do favor well-funded candidates as they are able to get their name out there easier through paying the media and such. I do favor changing the system and I would start by using the idea of having the different regions vote together at one time. I would also favor the plan where every state votes on the same day but I can see the problem with the well-funded candidates having the upper hand in this situation. I feel having the different regions vote on the same day would be one step we could take to level the playing field for the race for president

8/31/2016
Sidney Montana
Shaelyn
Mr. Faulhaber
I think it should be reformed. I dont think it's neither fair or unfair to have Iowa and New Hampshire hold their primaries early. I think in a way this this affects people's choice on who the vote for because some people just go with the popular vote but for the one's that dont pay attention to who other people are voting for then its fine. I think that primaries do favor the well-funded candidates because without funds you can't endorse your campaign or advertise. I favor changing the system. I would change it by making it so that all of the states have an equal amount of primary votes no matter how big or small the state is.

8/31/2016
California
Sonny M
Murrieta Canyon Academy
I might be biased because most of the time I lean towards a conservative view but I don't feel that our systems should change they have worked for years letting some states have more influence than others might not be fair but some people can change their political views and opinions so overall I do not think that systems should change for political fairness

8/31/2016
murrieta
ajah f
MCA
i think the primary election system does not need to be reformed.its isn't far that NH, SC have the most influence on choosing our nominees, because everyone should be able to choose it wouldn't be fair.

8/19/2016
California
Adnan
Mr.Jabro
I believe the primary election system doesn't need to be reformed. Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina have the most influence on choosing nominees which isn't fair, but its better than wealthy candidates overwhelming lesser candidates because they have a bigger pocket.

8/18/2016
Murrieta/CA
Destiny
Mr.Jabro, Murrieta Canyon Academy
The primary election system should reform. Some states have more influence than others all states need to have the same amount of influence, in order for things to be fair. the well-funded candidates are favored, as the article said "but would favor the well-funded candidates even more, since it would require all would-be nominees to campaign in all 50 states at once." I do favor changing the system, I would change it by making all of the states equal in influence.

8/18/2016
Murrieta/CA
Bryson
mr.jabro/Canyon Academy
Yes it needs reform, it is simply too unbalanced to stay the way it is, due to the primaries favoring the well funded candidates they can easily win if they have Iowa or New Hampshire behind them due to those states extreme influence, changing the system is the only way we can assure all spectrum's of candidates have a fair campaign, money should not do the talking, leadership should. the changes can start for longer seasons more days to vote and neutral media outlets supporting every candidate.

8/18/2016
murrieta california
angelisa
mr.jabro,murrieta canyon academy
i honestly dont think it is working because are president barrack obama is not so great and the people voting right know are so not good because they always fight all the time

8/17/2016
Murrieta/CA
Carolyn
Mr. Jabro, Murrieta Canyon Academy
The primary election system shouldn't be reformed. Even though it isn't fair to give Iowa and New Hampshire more of an influence than others, but it's better then having the wealthier candidates themselves have the advantage. I do think primaries do favor the well-funded candidates because as it says, if all primaries are held on the same day then that would favor the well-funded candidates even more. I think it works the way it is.

8/17/2016
Murrieta CA
Brittany
Mr.Jabro/Murrieta CanyonAcademy
the primary election doesnt need to reform or anything because thats the canidites job to do that. iowa and new hampsture are lucky they can influance the primary soure and everybody else as in the states cant

8/17/2016
Murrieta/Califorina
michael
Mr.Jabro
I don't think that the primary election system needs to be reform for the simple fact that it has been working for this long. Honesty the situation about Iowa, New Hampshire shouldn't chose who is going to run this country every state should have a equal vote to the face of the Untied States.

8/17/2016
Murrieta
Liam
Clower/Murrieta Canyon Academy
I feel we can leave the system as is but just have the primaries be closer in date to avoid all of this influence, Even if the system doesn't change we should at least make them happen at similar times.

8/17/2016
Murrieta/California
Jhun, 8/17/16, period 5
Jabro/Murrieta Canyone Academy
Reform? Yes our election system needs to be improved and changed, it needs to be reformed. No, just because they have earlier primaries doesn't mean that they shouldn't matter because they are still primaries, they still qualify. Yes, well-funded candidates are more favored compared to candidates that are not funded because of such things like advertisements. Yes, I favor changing the system because in it's current state it isn't as balanced and fair as it can actually be.

8/17/2016
Murrieta/CA
Elizabeth
Mr.Jabro/Creekside High School
Our primary election system doesn't need to be improved because the people who are running for president get votes from all around the world. But it isn't fair that New Hampshire and Iowa get so much impact over choosing the nominees, we should all have a equal vote. I think the primaries favor the well-funded candidates because they can publicize and have a huge strategy.

8/17/2016
Murrieta CA
Rebecca B
Mr.Jabro Murrieta Canyon Academy
I do not think we need to change our system , i think we need to change a few things about it but overall as a system it works. Its been the same for very long and has been doing America justice.Of course it is not fair for other states because Iowa and New Hampshire have such a high influence but they do get to every single state regardless. I feel like every state should have an equal say in the election.Primaries i feel like usually dont favor the more funded candidates because money does not really have anything to do with it , its about your intelligence and how well you will help America and no certain amount of money can prove that.

8/17/2016
Murrieta/CA
Evans James
Mr. Jabro/Creekside High School
I think the primary election system should not be reformed because the candidates with the most funds will be able to influence and advertise more than the other candidates which I see as fair, going by the "first come, first served". It's fair to give Iowa and New Hampshire such influence because although it my be equal to have everyone vote at the same time not every state has the same rules. I think the primaries favors the well-funded candidates because well they can use the funds to get what they need in order to win the election. What I think is I see it as fair and it does work the way it is, the primary election system doesn't need any reforming.

8/17/2016
murrieta/california
Bryson
mr.jabro/canyon acadmia
our primary election system needs reform especially for for the democrats for it seems to be heavily in their favor they should let it be run by partizans. Iowa and New Hampshire should not have that much influence every city should have equal power to give everyone a chance. Asking if primaries like well-funded candidates is like asking if a teacher is in a classroom, the well-funded candidates can easily spread their influence with advertisement and reputation, and some other ways that may not be so fair. A change in the system would be a godsend, there are so many inequalities and flaws in the system it seems to be like that on purpose for no one seems to want to change it. If the system were to be changed, candidates will need to be on equal ground ads have to be controlled by the people of the state, a broader window of time to vote for primaries, and encouragement from all states for everyone to vote or simply you are required to vote no matter what.

8/17/2016
cali
dajour hardaway
mr.jbro creekside hs
I think there should be a change to how the system works. because just because a person is well known they shouldn't become president. The voters shouldn't know exactly who there candidate is only what they believe and what they will do once in office because people seem to just follow the ideas off the canedet they like with out thinking about long term and i also think it is fair to give iowa and new hampshire such influence

8/17/2016
murrieta/california
Bryson
mr.jabro/canyon acadmia
our primary election system needs reform especially for for the democrats for it seems to be heavily in their favor they should let it be run by partizans. Iowa and New Hampshire should not have that much influence every city should have equal power to give everyone a chance. Asking if primaries like well-funded candidates is like asking if a teacher is in a classroom, the well-funded candidates can easily spread their influence with advertisement and reputation, and some other ways that may not be so fair. A change in the system would be a godsend, there are so many inequalities and flaws in the system it seems to be like that on purpose for no one seems to want to change it. If the system were to be changed, candidates will need to be on equal ground ads have to be controlled by the people of the state, a broader window of time to vote for primaries, and encouragement from all states for everyone to vote or simply you are required to vote no matter what.

8/17/2016
Murrieta, Ca
jabril
Mr.Jabro
i do feel like the primary election needs reform because i feel it is unfair the Iowa and New Hampshire are the first States because they will most likely be the two most favored states.I think primaries do favor well-funded candidates because they can bring in more money which means they can advertise more than most and probably have a larger campaign. I do favor changing the system, because i feel it is unfair too other candidates who aren't as "popular" as others running.

8/17/2016
california
cameron
Mr. Jabro/ murrieta canyon academy
The primary election system seems to be doing fine and all the people in it. A reason why some are complaining may be due to them not getting what they want or seeing a different outcome than expected. It is not fair to give just a couple states more influence than the others. I feel that the primaries do not favor the well funded candidates, they choose who is the best fit. I would not change it, a debate is a debate and a president is either fit or not.

8/17/2016
Murrieta/California
Brian Massie
Jabro/Murrieta Canyon Academy
Yes it needs reform due to advantages in some places and not others. No, it is not fair because since they are a primary they have some kind of advantage. I'd say that they do because those candidates have more money. I do not vote so in the end it does not matter to me. I probably wouldn't change it because I won't be living in America much longer. But, I suppose it works the way it is for other citizens.

6/4/2016
New York
Michael
East Northort Middle School
The primary election system for the democrats needs comprehensive reform and it needs it now. First and foremost, independents have the right to vote for whomever they wish in the primary season. Independents make up the largest voter block with 43 percent compared to democrats 30 percent and republicans 26 percent. We also have to encourage more people to vote during the primary season instead of dissuading them from voting. In order to do this, lines for primaries must be open longer and for more days. This supports individuals who may not have the time to stand in line for five hours at a polling station on a given day.

5/17/2016
Murrieta
Marco
Mr Jabro creekside highschool
i think the system is fine the way it is but thats my opinion i think that its fine that most of the states get there say on who is in the election but also is kind of unfair that new hapshire and iowa dont get the chance to have such a high vote which should change because that could make a difference

5/9/2016
Murrieta/CA
Nathaniel
Mr. Jabro/Creekside High School
I do not think that our primary election system needs reform, people who are running get votes from all states. It is unfair that Iowa and New Hampshire get such influence because all of the other states need to have an equal vote. Iowa and New Hampshire should not have such high influence on the votes. Not all primaries favor well funded candidates, because some of the well funded candidates are not the smartest and some do not know what is best, and it really shows. In my opinion, I do not think we should change our system in any way.

4/29/2016
murrieta ca
madison hamilton
Mr.Jabro/Creekside high school
I don't think the primary election system needs to reform because the candidates get to every state they're supposed to. It's tradition. Yes it's unfair that Iowa and New Hampshire get to influence such primary votes but its not like the other states don't get a say.

3/19/2016
Stroudsburg, PA
Matt
Mr. Hanna/stroudsburg JHS
I think that the election system needs to reform because the states candidates go to first get to see what everyone has to offer, such as Iowa and New Hampshire. the people voting will go and vote for the people who can keep their campaign running and their ideas coming. If I were to change it I would make it so candidates can only spend a certain amount of money so everyone can get to all the places and let everyone here their ideas without them going broke. The Primary election System needs to reform.

3/15/2016
Stroudsburg PA
Mahedi
Mr.Hana/Stroudsburg jhs
I think there should be a change to how the system works.because just because a person is well known(Donald Trump) they shouldn't become president. The voters shouldn't know exactly who there candidate is only what they believe and what they will do once in office.

3/15/2016
stroudsburg PA
collin
stroudsburg JHS
i feel like our election system is just fine but it is not fair to give those states to get all that influence u might as well give the rest of the states that influence

3/15/2016
Stroudsburg, PA
Samuel W.
Mr. Hanna/Stroudsburg JHS
The primary election system should be reformed because the candidates with the most funds will be able to influence and advertise more than the others which isn't fair. It isn't fair to give Iowa and New Hampshire such influence because although they may be first people shouldn't always go with their decision because people change. I think primaries do favor well-funded candidates because they can advertise more and have a bigger campaign. I favor changing the system and the way I would change it is atleast 5 candiddates on either side that MUST be a politician before running. They would get time to advertise and do debates then do a national primary for first democratics and republicans.

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