Opinion: Primary results highlight problem for politically active youth


After two primaries, the top candidates from both parties have traded wins. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton won Iowa and Bernie Sanders won New Hampshire, while on the Republican side, Ted Cruz won Iowa and Donald Trump won New Hampshire. There have been confusing headlines leading to controversy and a political fight over one candidate’s eligibility to run for president.

The primaries are exposing the systems, frustrating as they may be, that go into the presidential elections.

In Iowa, the race was so close that coin flips were used to assign delegates, which ultimately led to some hysteria.

A NPR segment titled “Coin-Toss Fact-Check: No, Coin Flips Did Not Win Iowa for Hillary Clinton,” originally published Feb. 2, said the coin flips were only for local delegates to break ties in counties that have an odd-numbered total of county delegates, not the ones who go on to be the party nominee at the national convention.

In New Hampshire, Sanders won but Clinton got more delegates because of this great thing called superdelegates. Sanders could still win the nomination even if Clinton keeps her lead in superdelegates, according to the FiveThirtyEight article “Superdelegates Might Not Save Hillary Clinton” by Nate Silver. The fact that a system exists for the party to override the people’s choice is maddening to me and even more disheartening to others.

Taylor Peterson, K-State alum, said that with new voters in this election, things like this come as unwelcome surprises.

“As the primaries unfold, it shows how good the candidates are and how the process works,” Peterson said, “However, my generation is finding out about the hidden parts. It is crazy how undemocratic this is.”

On the flip side, Trump has threatened to sue Cruz over his alleged ineligibility. A group in Alabama beat him to the punch, according to a Feb. 12 DailyMail.com article by David Martosko. The group filed a lawsuit in federal court to have Cruz removed from the primary for not being able to meet the requirements to be president.

In 2011, Trump made many attempts in the media demanding to see President Obama’s birth certificate. After he released a notice of live birth and his official birth certificate, Trump held a press conference, telling ABC News that he was very proud of what he accomplished.

Ted Cruz has been linked to that movement via a contradictory Facebook meme that shows Cruz claiming President Obama’s inability to be president because only one of his parents was American, while also alluding to Cruz being a qualified presidential candidate because his mother was a U.S. citizen. Cruz never made either statement, earning the post the rating of “pants on fire,” according to Politifact article titled “Facebook meme says Ted Cruz a flip-flopper on president needing to be U.S.-born.”

Although Cruz does not take credit for saying the part about President Obama, attacks like this one do nothing but show how immature actions during elections can lead to uncertain and misinformed voters.

“I’ve seen those pop up on Facebook,” Jonathan Howard, senior in computer science said. “They are interesting because they show a public perception of a particular candidate, but they are all more silly than factual. They don’t offer intelligent discussion — it’s a joke written on top of a picture in a fun looking font.”

So there might be less doom and gloom in the air than I thought. I had also been thinking another problem with the current system was how the state primaries are sequential rather than all at once like the election.

It seemed unfair how other primaries could influence how people in other states feel about candidates. Going back to my disgruntled view of superdelegates determining who is more electable: Would they deter voters from supporting someone just because they did poorly in another primary?

“Not particularly,” Howard said. “I think the sequential primaries are useful in both narrowing down the candidate pool and seeing how candidates react to current events. If my candidate didn’t come in first in another primary, it wouldn’t change what I think of them or discourage me from voting for them, unless they dropped out.”

Peterson said popularity shouldn’t be a primary concern.

“Everyone old enough to vote should do research into their candidates and not just go for who their parents vote for or follow party lines,” Peterson said. “I make a big deal about this because elections impact all of us.”

In the end, the system behind the election works for the most part. Understanding it takes some reading, and accepting it takes some patience.