Are The Primary Elections For “Real Voters?”
By Jenifer Carbonara
The next time you’re on a crowded subway, are in line at the grocery store, or even taking a languid commercial break between your American Idol marathon party, turn to the person standing next to you and ask, “Did you vote in the primaries?” Chances are that, even in politically-driven New York City, you may hear a big, fat “No.”
What gives? It seems that news outlets everywhere are boasting about the turnout for the primaries. But one day of riding the subway, walking through Central Park, and bothering my roommate during her TV time gave me a measly three affirmatives to the question ‘did you vote in the primary?’
Though it seems logical that getting to choose which person you want to represent you come November would be immensely important and exciting (especially as many voters have nothing but complaints about the candidates up for the vote come E-Day) many people shy away from the primary elections, instead voting only in the November presidential election.
“I figure that only people who are really “into” politics follow the primaries—the rest of the people just vote in the general election,” says Pamela Carbonara, 51.
Gregory Crompton, 36, said, “Only people who have money or time bother with the primaries.”
And, Amie Charlery, 21, proclaimed, “I’ll probably vote in the real election.”
Needless to say, the primary elections appear to be nothing more than an interim between “real” elections—they are reserved for people who have invested time and/or money into a candidate, not for your average Joe. Once again, America removes itself from ability to effect change.
However, it is a fact that this year boasted the highest ever turnout rates for votes in the primary election—more than 18% of eligible voters participated, setting records. In the “real” election of 2004, 64% of eligible voters nationwide voted. So why is it that the 2008 primary elections yielded three times less voters than the presidential election of 2006? Where did all the voters go?
“I think it comes down to the Democrat versus Republican race that interests people. It is easier to choose between two candidates who are so clearly opponents than to choose between two candidates who are kind of on the same side,” said Andrea Barthlow, 28. “When it’s Democrat versus Democrat or Republican versus Republican, you figure either way you win.”
If interest is what is lacking in the primary elections, the 2008 Democratic candidates should have provided more than enough interest to captivate the audience—and, as the polls show, it certainly did affect the turnout. But that does not change the fact that people are viewing the primaries with an almost highbrow trepidation that is only doing more harm than good.
“You can’t win if you don’t play the game,” said the primary voting Crompton. “It just doesn’t work like that.”