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2020 Democratic Selection Process to be More Democratic

Precinct Chairwoman Judy Wittkop explains the rules during a 2008 Democratic caucus in Le Mars, Iowa.


A quiet but significant shift across a handful of states could reshape the Democratic nominating process ahead of 2020: The party is now poised to see a historic reduction in the number of states that use caucuses over primaries to pick a presidential nominee.

By next year, Democrats could see the number of caucus states cut in half.

Four states have already moved from a caucus system to a traditional primary: Maine, Minnesota, Colorado, and, as of last month, Idaho made the switch. Party officials say two more states — Nebraska and Washington — are now considering the same change. And as Democratic Party members prepare to adopt changes to the nominating process at their annual summer meeting next month — including a new rule to “encourage” the use of primaries over caucuses “whenever possible” — caucus states may face new outside pressure to embrace state-run primaries.

The shift could leave just seven caucus states on the nominating calendar. For more than 20 years, Democrats have held caucuses in no fewer than 14 states.

Might write something longer about this, but to give the bullet point version:

  • Caucuses are terrible, essentially exaggerated forms of the vote suppression favored by Republican candidates and judges. They make it harder for people of color, poor people, the disabled, and/or caregivers to participate
  • Preferring an undemocratic selection process because it apparently helped your preferred candidate in one election makes about as much sense as saying the Electoral College is a great system because Lincoln probably would have lost under a ranked-choice voting system in 1860.
  • Superdelegates are also bad. There’s no reason to believe party elites are particularly good at identifying good candidates ex ante, and even if they were under current norms a candidate installed by superdelegates would have so little legitimacy with the losing candidates it would drown out any marginal value of having a better candidate.
  • Democratic choice of the candidate is the norm, and it should be done right.
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