It's easy to get blasé about presidential primaries, particularly when they're obviously going to renominate an incumbent, as in 1984 or 1996. Even in contested primaries, voter turnout rarely exceeds 20 percent, and late-season primaries can devolve into academic exercises. But primaries do play a vital role in the political process, and so they should be defended against attempts by some states to cancel them for the 2004 election.
Let it be said right here that, as a non-partisan organization, the Commonweal Institute takes no position on specific races and does not support any political party. Our commitment is to the vitality of American democracy, which we feel would be undermined by the cancellation of primaries. Our analysis here is meant to throw some light on the motivations of those seeking to cancel primaries and on the consequences of doing so.