Around N.C.: Primaries can help GOP
The North Carolina Republican Party made the wise decision recently to keep its primary elections open to unaffiliated voters, if it wants to win general elections once again, that is.
A resolution brought before the party’s executive committee would have allowed only voters registered with the party to pick its candidate for the general election. Republicans pushing the change argued party members should be the ones picking their nominees because independents are more inclined to back moderates.
But many state leaders worried changing the rules could damage Republican chances to win elections in 2010. This side won out in the end, with the executive committee overwhelmingly rejecting the resolution, according to GOP spokesman Jordan Shaw.
Allowing unaffiliated voters to cast ballots in a party’s primary elections benefits that party in two ways. First, it does force the party to pick more moderate and more electable candidates.
Face it, though the extremes in both parties often get much of spotlight because they shout the loudest, it is the moderates that decide elections. Neither party can win elections solely on the people registered with its side.
Both must charm the independents to get anything done. Sticking to an ideology that is far to either side of the political spectrum is a laudable, but impractical, strategy when running any campaign.
If a more right-wing candidate were to gain a party’s nomination, he or she would have to moderate their views in the general election anyway in order win. By then, it would likely be too late.
And the N.C. GOP must also remember that the state voted for President Obama in the 2008 election and has elected a Democratic governor for more than two decades. It is at best a “purple” state now. A far-right candidate has no chance to win any election.
Secondly, open primaries can offer a gauge and intensify enthusiasm that unaffiliated voters feel for a particular candidate. If unaffiliated voters choose to vote for one partys candidate over the other’s in a primary, then they are more likely to turn out for that candidate in the general election as well.
Gaining a win in the amount of unaffiliated voters you lure to your primary can give a candidate a leg up headed into the fall.
If both parties chose to hold closed primaries, this would be a different debate. But for now, as long as one side’s primaries are open, the other has no choice but to open theirs as well.
ó Sanford Herald