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Presumptive Nominee in February? How About We Just Let People Vote…
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Gabriel Côté

Feb 10, 2024

Nominating Trump as the presumptive nominee this early in the presidential nomination contest is unfair and rather undemocratic. This decision would not only hurt his last opponent Nikki Haley but the whole Republican Party.

In late January, Maryland Chair committee member David Bossie attempted to propose a motion to name Trump the presumptive nominee for the 2024 presidential election at the Republican National Committee meeting held from Jan. 30th to Feb. 3rd. Such a nomination this early in the race is unprecedented.

The Democratic Problem
The presumptive nominee is officially named when a candidate obtains enough delegates (1,215 total) to win the presidential nomination, as opposed to the official nominee, who is then selected during the national convention of each party. These conventions occur during the summer, following all primaries in the country.

While Donald Trump leads the competition and every upcoming republican primary, no candidate is anywhere close to the 1,215 delegates necessary to win the presidential nomination. In fact, Trump has yet to win 100 delegates. If he was named the presumptive nominee after only two state primaries (Nevada and the Virgin Islands had yet to vote), it would have seemed rather undemocratic, as only a minority of Republicans had expressed their opinion on the presidential nomination.

Ending the battle this early has never been done, nor should it, because all Republican members should be able to participate in democracy. Not only would this decision hurt Nikki Haley, but Donald Trump and the Republican Party as well, injuring them in the upcoming presidential election.

Naturally, ending the battle for the Republican nomination would hurt Haley because she could not make up for her loss in New Hampshire and Iowa. Also, Haley represents an option for Republicans opposed to Trump. Ending the contest would prevent them from expressing their opposition to the ex-president.

For Trump, ending the primaries would prevent him from knowing how significant his Republican fanbase is for the presidential elections. It also prevents him from proving to the nation that he is still strongly supported across the country by the electors. Also, because the primaries are held on a long timeline, every win he gets gives him publicity and broadcast time.

Ending the primaries at this stage would hurt the Republican Party the most. The RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDonald stated the GOP needs to eventually rally around their presidential nominee. If primaries are not held in every state, the GOP can not know which group of Republican members do not support Trump. The party will have more difficulty gaining support from independents for the presidential election.

Just like in New Hampshire, many states hold open or semi-closed primaries that allow independent voters to vote for their preferred candidate in a political party presidential nomination race. 43% of the electors consider themselves independent, which means they can influence the results of the upcoming presidential election. Based on the New Hampshire primary results, most of the independents who voted in the Republican primary cast their vote for Haley. It is a clear sign that moderates will be a tough crowd for Trump if he wins the nomination in the upcoming presidential election. Without this information, learned from only one primary, it would be even more difficult for the Republican Party to acknowledge that independents are not massively in Trump’s camp.

The New Hampshire results may not perfectly represent the votes of the independents, but if Trump is not immediately named the presumptive nominee and the primaries are still held, the GOP will gather as much data as possible about the results between Haley and Trump. It can then help the party to adapt its electoral strategy to get as many independent votes as possible.

Solution: Primaries should be held on a shorter timeline
It is not surprising that Trump is currently the favorite to win the Republican primaries, but it is surprising that after only two primaries, many politicians already want him to become the presumptive nominee. 

The motion to name Trump the presumptive nominee at the cost of many voters’ right to vote for their preferred candidate comes from the following: the results of the first two primaries and surveys showing his lead in the other states led to many presidential candidates dropping out.

However, if the primaries were held across the country on a shorter timeline, for example, a week instead of five months, the results would come faster and every voter could vote for their preferred candidate. The votes would also include less bias, for the previous primary wins of the candidates or poll changes would not affect voter choice.

 The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author.

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