Washington State held a Presidential Primary on May 24, 2016. While Republicans used the Presidential Primary to determine the ratio of their delegates for specific candidates, Democrats did not. The Democratic vote was purely a poll with no impact on the dividing up who got how many delegates. Democrats held an earlier caucus on Saturday March 26, 2016 to determine that.
The surprise was that more Democrats voted in the Presidential Primary than Republicans despite the Democratic vote not affecting the delegate count. According to the Washington State Secretary of State some 1,421,841 voters voted in the May 25, 2016 Presidential Primary. Of the 4,088.o29 registered voters at the time this represented a turnout of only 34.78%.
The results according to the Washington Secretary of State’s website were as follows:
Democratic vote: Hillary Clinton ….. 421,461….. 52.38% Bernie Sanders……382,393…..47.62%
Total Democratic vote …..802,753
Republican vote: Ben Carson…………..23,849…….3.96% Ted Cruz………………65,172……10.81% John Kasich………….58,954……9.78% Donald J Trump … 455,023…..75.46%
Total Republican vote ….602,998
The Democratic vote was 56.46% of the turnout and Republicans only represented 43.54% of the vote.
The actual division of delegates for the Democrats went through the caucus system where precinct delegates were elected in the following proportion at the March 26, 2016 caucus. These results are as reported by the New York Times.
Bernie Sanders ……19,159 delegates = 72.7% = 74 delegates
Hillary Clinton ……..7,140 delegates = 27.1% = 27 delegates
other ………………………..46 delegates = .02%
The number of Democrats participating in the caucus was about 230,000 according to OPB . This was about 14,000 shy of the turnout for Democrats in 2008 when Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton ran.
Comparing the Democratic turnout in the Presidential Primary and the Caucus, the nonbinding Presidential Primary saw 3.9 times as many Democrats participate compared to the caucus. Many voters found the caucus system frustrating and time consuming, particularly when Legislative District Caucuses were held on May 1, 2016 and went into late evening hours. Many people left in frustration and weren’t able to vote.
Some 27,000 Precinct level Delegates were narrowed down to 1400 Legislative District Delegates in the legislative District caucus. The Legislative District Delegates then elected 67 National Delegates at Congressional District Caucuses on May 21, 2016. The Washington State Democratic Central Committee on June 19th elected an additional 34 National Delegates and appointed 17 Super Delegates. On July 28th in Philadelphia the 118 Washington State Delegates will vote to nominate the 2016 Democratic Party Candidate for President of the United States.
36th District Senator Reuven Carlyle after the Presidential Primary echoed the view of many when he called for an end to the Caucus system. Carlyle in the Tacoma News Tribune said:
State Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, said Tuesday’s results highlighted how Washington Democrats’ system of holding both caucuses and primaries needs to go.
Awarding delegates to candidates based on primary results would be less confusing and expand the number of voters who could participate in the nomination process, he said.
“I just think caucuses have a romantic image and play a meaningful role in terms of activism and energy, but that a primary is more Democratic and reflective of the broader values of the population,” Carlyle said.
If you agree the system needs to be changed, contact people in the State Democratic Party. The Washington State Democratic Central Committee can vote to support a Presidential Primary rather than a Caucus system in 2020. Let them know now so the system can be changed.
The current Presidential Primary in Washington State became law in March of 1989 after the State Legislature passed Initiative 99. I-99 had 202,872 people sign.