By Martin R. Herrera
Even with 24 states conducting presidential primaries in one day, a front-runner for either political party may not be clear after Super Tuesday.
The previous record for most states holding presidential primaries on the same day was in 2004 with 16 states.
This is perhaps a symptom of a flawed system, history Professor Jerry Poole said.
“There is no way that any of the candidates can campaign in all of those states,” he said.
The total number of delegates that are available on Tuesday from the Democratic and Republican parties are 2,075 and 1,081.
To win the party nomination at the national convention, candidates must obtain a majority of the delegates’ votes.
The Democratic candidate must receive 2,025 votes, while the Republican candidate needs 1,191 votes.
However, even with this towering number of delegates available on Tuesday, the Associated Press predicted in an article Jan. 24 that neither party will be able to crown a front-runner.
“The race for delegates is so close in both parties that it is mathematically impossible for any candidate to lock up the nomination on Feb. 5,” wrote AP staff writer Stephen Ohlemacher, citing an analysis performed by his news organization.
In the time since that article was written, several candidates have bowed out of the race including Dennis Kucinich, Rudy Giuliani and John Edwards.
The primary dates used to be more spread out, but those states whose primaries came after a candidate had already gathered a majority found they no longer had influence on those candidates.
As a result, many states conducted their primaries earlier so they could get a candidate’s attention.
For example, the Texas primary used to be in May until they moved it to an early March date.
In response to the creation of a Super Tuesday in March, other states vied for an early February date.
William Byerly, political science professor, said that the earlier a front-runner is produced for either party, the less significant the national conventions become.
“They’ve already wound it up so that the national conventions have become anti-climactic,” Byerly said.
This may not be a good thing for a party still trying to develop a national platform, Poole said.
In a scenario where the primaries don’t produce an early front-runner, Poole said the delegates are in a better position at the national convention to form a more diverse party platform.
Once a candidate has dropped out in the early primaries, the candidate would lose relevance to the party agenda, Poole said.
To control the influx of states trying to gain influence over one another, some corners have offered up the suggestion for a national primary as a way to even the playing field.
Poole said he doesn’t feel this will solve the problem candidates face when trying to cover the 24 states with primaries Feb. 5.
He said it will only compound the problem.
Byerly disagreed, saying, “I think there is some interest in maybe putting them through a deal (at a national primary).”
Byerly offered another option in which three or four dates are agreed upon and all states could systematically rotate their primary dates among them.
In this way, each state, over time, will have the opportunity to be an early primary state.
Differences aside, both men agreed the current primary system is flawed.
They also believe that if Super Tuesday does not produce a front-runner, then that may be a good thing.
“By the time Texas votes, we still will have influence,” Poole said with a smile, referring to the 140 Republican and 228 Democratic delegates.
The date for the Texas primary is March 4, with early voting to begin Feb. 19.
For information, contact the Bexar County Elections Department at 335-VOTE or visit the Web site at http://www.bexar.org/elections.