Colorado legislators are considering holding a presidential primary in 2016, even though the state has been holding caucuses for the past few presidential cycles. This is actually a pretty big deal—very different people show up for these different events, and very different candidates tend to win them. Primaries are how most state parties seek to nominate presidents, and indeed it’s how party nominations for most offices are made in this country. That’s how most Americans think of the presidential party nomination process: The candidates campaign, and party voters all show up on one day to cast a secret ballot, just as they would in a general election.
Caucuses are very different. Unlike primary elections, caucuses are communal events. Your vote is not secret. Indeed, part of caucus night is spent speaking on behalf of candidates and trying to woo supporters. Caucuses take time—typically around two hours on a weeknight. They involve passionate people arguing and debating and discussing the issues of the day. If you’re ever feeling down on the American political system, go watch or participate in a caucus—they’re damned inspiring.
At the same time, they’re damned time-consuming and exhausting. Not many people have the time, energy, or interest to participate in such an event, which is what makes caucuses so disappointing. In Colorado’s 2008 presidential caucuses, only 5.5 percent of eligible voters participated. That was a record high, achieved in a year when both parties still had competitive races. In most years, the presidential contests are all but decided by the time most states get to weigh in. Yes, caucuses get to discuss nominations for other partisan races and party platform stances, but if the presidential race is uninteresting, very few people show up, leaving the event to the one or two percent of the population who cares and has the time to participate.
Full Article: To Primary or to Caucus? – Pacific Standard.