Debating The Role Of Political Primaries

Debating The Role Of Political Primaries

The vast majority of Americans don't vote in primaries. Some say this means that the most extreme members of each party end up choosing the general election candidates. Diane and her guests discuss the role of primaries in today's polarized politics.

New York Sen. Charles Schumer recently declared: “Polarization and partisanship are a plague on American politics.” He says one of the main culprits is our party primary system. It is not a new criticism. Political scholars have long argued that when primary elections are restricted to voters from one party, nominees with the most extreme views often win. But some question whether open primaries – where voters can cross party lines -- actually improve the electoral fortunes of moderate candidates. And others worry open primaries dilute a party’s ability to nominate their own candidate without outside interference. Diane and her guests discuss the role of primaries in today’s polarized politics.


Amy Walter

national editor, Cook Political Report.

Norman Ornstein

resident scholar, American Enterprise Institute; co-author with Thomas Mann of, "It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism."

Elaine Kamarck

senior fellow, Governance Studies, Brookings Institution.

Gabriel Lenz

associate professor of political science, University of California at Berkeley.

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