Open primaries produce viable candidates: Our view

If the GOP is to remain a viable party in national elections, it will have to attract more black, Latino and Asian-American voters. Chris McDaniel — the Tea Party-backed candidate who lost to Cochran — could have tried to appeal to African Americans. He chose not to. In fact, black Democrats in Mississippi were so worried about McDaniel that they went to the trouble of voting against him in a Republican election.

Democrats could benefit from open primaries as well. While their more diverse and splintered nature has not led to nominations of as many unelectable candidates, a hard-core liberal base seems intent on changing that.

The biggest winners in open primaries are the voters. The electorate is growing more and more polarized, as evidenced by a recent study by the Pew Research Center. Even so, more people still describe their political views as mixed (39%) than as liberal (34%) or conservative (27%).

Thanks in part to gerrymandering in House districts, Congress is a good bit more polarized than the electorate. That is a major problem, as the polarization is making routine governance difficult and impedes solutions to long festering problems such as climate change, immigration and benefit programs.

Opponents of open primaries assert that open primaries violate parties’ rights of association. The only problem with this argument is that the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of open primaries.

USAToday Editorial
7/1/14