Election 2020

The GOP Deals With Trump Competition by Canceling Elections

President with 90% approval ratings among Republicans will be shielded from Bill Weld and Joe Walsh in four states, reports Politico.


In a move that has been foreshadowed for a year, the Republican Party this weekend will cancel presidential primary elections in four states, Politico reports.

Quoting "three GOP officials who are familiar with the plans," the paper said that South Carolina, Nevada, Arizona and Kansas, which between them comprise around 7 percent of the overall delegate haul, will simply wave away political competition rather than let the likes of Bill Weld, Joe Walsh, and perhaps Mark Sanford take a David vs. Goliath swing at an incumbent president whose Gallup approval ratings among Republicans has been between 87 percent and 91 percent all year.

The cancellations, which grow out of the unprecedented collusion between the Republican National Committee and President Donald Trump's reelection campaign, demonstrates strikingly less confidence than that of his predecessor.

State Democratic parties generally held primaries and caucuses in 2012 unless no competitors qualified for the ballot. This led to such amusemens as attorney and perennial candidate John Wolfe winning 42 percent in the Arkansas primary. But Obama, whose approval rating among Democrats in the first half of 2011 bobbed between 75 percent and 85 percent, waltzed to the nomination.

South Carolina—Sanford's home state—and Nevada are third and fourth, respectively, on the Republican primary/caucus calendar, giving them outsized influence on the electoral process. The last time an incumbent president acted in such a heavy-handed way toward an early-state primary was George H.W. Bush, whose apparatus eliminated the competition in the 1992 Iowa caucus and the just-after-New-Hampshire South Dakota primary. That focused the attention of Bush's upstart challenger, Pat Buchanan, on New Hampshire, where his 37 percent of the vote shook up the whole election.

Trump and his team are reportedly very aware of the historical parallels (as are his competitors—Weld is focused on the "Buchanan benchmark" in Granite State polling), and they want to eliminate the element of surprise. "We don't elect presidents by acclamation in America," Weld said in a statement reacting to the news. "Donald Trump is doing his best to make the Republican Party his own personal club. Republicans deserve better."

Walsh, too, is unamused.

Programming note: I will be appearing tonight with Joe Walsh (and also Christina Hoff-Summers, Maria Teresa Kumar, and Democratic presidential candidate John Delaney) on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, live at 10 p.m. ET.

NEXT: Trump's Trade War Is Making America Love Trade Again. So Why Are Democrats Going Protectionist?

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  1. Or perhaps they think it is a waste of time and money because there are no serious challengers.

    1. Or maybe there are no serious challengers because the party establishment is working so hard to ensure there won’t be.

      1. There usually are not for an incumbant.

      2. Trump is the incumbant and challenges are rare. And the GOP establishment is hardly supporting Trump, hate to break it you. He didn’t win because of them.

      3. Carter, Clinton, Bush and Obama also cancelled elections.

    2. The excuse of dictators everywhere.

      1. Correct! The Republican Party ceased to exist after 2016 so can we please stop referring to them as such.

    3. This will surely be Trumps undoing!

    4. Perhaps they should put a percentage support on whether to have a primary in the state. The challenger to Trump must get to within 20% of Trump polling amongst Republican voters. Since Trump is hitting as high as 90% among Republicans, then a primary would be a complete waste of time. Everyone knows a primary challenge to Trump is a waste of time and to go ahead would just be going through the motions and serve zero purpose

    5. If they were democrats they wouldn’t be polling well enough to be included in the debates. I’m for alternatives but the phony libertarian Weld, the AWOL Sanford and nutcase Walsh generate no interest for me. They are less relevant than empty suit Beto in a national election.

  2. Trump competition.

  3. What a fucking stupid premise for an article.

    1. Got better ideas? Apply for one of the internships, prove your mettle.

      1. You are right.
        I could never do stenography as well as Binion.

      2. The rest of us don’t get paid for trolling the ‘net like you do.

      3. That is a fucking stupid premise of a response.

        1. If JesseAz has a “high-paying job”, I will eat my shirt.

    2. Indeed. Since when is it shockingly unprecedented for a major party in this country to not bother holding primaries, when a popular incumbent President decides to run for a second term?

      Rather, it’s the normal thing to do.

      “Unprecedented”; What a lie.

    3. Holy shit, people like Jesse would actually cheer if Trump canceled the election altogether.

      1. Same-Same…but Different.

      2. You remember the Republican Presidential primaries of 2004? New York and Connecticut didn’t bother having (Presidential) primaries that year.

        So, not remotely unprecedented.

        1. Not to mention the Bush41, Clinton, Bush43, and Obama second term runs had more States cancel primary elections than those so far cancelling for Trump second term run.

  4. Between the Repubs and the Dems, the forthcoming election sort of resembles a black hole: no matter what your philosophical or political stance is, and no matter how stupid and inane the candidates might be, you will be swallowed up whole, and then be spit out four years later to serve, once more, as fodder for politicians’ egos.

  5. What is most amazing is the hypocrisy of the Republican who pointed at HRC’s domination of the DNC in 2016. They cried crocodile tears for Bernie Sanders and lamented he did not have a fair chance. Now they don’t even want Weld and Walsh to even have a chance to face voters.

    1. Republican hypocrisy doesn’t look so bad . . . against the background of Republican bigotry, Republican corruption, and Republican ignorance.

      1. If it wasn’t for hypocrisy, bigotry, corruption, and ignorance, what would the Republican party even have?

        1. KaBoom! You are the Rev win the internet for today………

        2. They’d be the Democratic Party then.

        3. Tax cuts? Or does that count as part of the corruption?

    2. Their polling at levels that wouldn’t qualify for the Dem debates.

      What, precisely, is the point?

      1. The point isn’t the debate its the primary. I am not suggesting Trump debate Weld and Walsh but they can still be in the primary.

        1. “The point isn’t the debate its the primary.”

          Why waste the money on a foregone conclusion?

          Trump winning by 74 or 77 is not really relevant to much of anything.

      2. The point is that Republicans should have the opportunity to have a voice in who their party nominates. That’s what the primary is for.

        1. They had that in 2016. Trump won.

          Bill Weld and Walsh are joke candidates.

          Bill Weld literally ran as a LP Vice President candidate, so why would any Republican take him seriously? As a Libertarian, I don’t take him seriously and never did. He was just part of the GayJay package deal.

          Now that we know how Libertarian-ish Trump is and how much government he has rolled back, Gary Johnson would have been a horrible President in comparison. GayJay would have got NOTHING rolled back. Democrats and Republicans would have never done anything for him. Its a moot point, as GayJay lost.

          1. loveconstitution1789: “They had that in 2016. Trump won.”

            So America elects its presidents for eight-year terms rather than four-year ones?

            Or are you insinuating that American presidents have an entitlement to be re-elected for their second four-year term unopposed by rivals in their own party?

            If the latter, that sort of attitude would be more what one might expect to find in a banana republic–or a monarchy.

            1. Dishonest framing of his comment. It’s not unusual for parties to cancel primaries with an incumbent who is a shoe-in for a likely second term.

    3. Do you know the difference between Trump 2020 and Hillary 2016? I’m asking honestly because I don’t think you understand.

      1. Yes. Hillary had several challengers that went through to the convention. Trump will not allow a challenge in 2020.

    4. Carter, Clinton, Bush and Obama also cancelled elections.

    5. Hypocrisy? Obviously you haven’t looked in the mirror.
      I don’t remember talk about Clinton or Obama second term runs having more States cancel primaries than Trump’s second term run.

  6. Reason commenters, never ones to disappoint, rush to the GOP’s defense.

    The point of a party primary is to determine who party members want to be their representative. If you don’t hold a vote, how can you know? Poll numbers are unreliable and they don’t necessarily reflect who a person would vote for – as we saw in 2016, when the polls hid the degree of popular support for Trump.

    The only reason the GOP is citing an arbitrary polling threshold in order to cancel elections is that they think they can get away with it. They’d cancel all the primaries if they could.

    1. Beto O’Rourke has a MUCH greater chance of winning the Dem nomination than Walsh, Sanford, and Weld combining to hit 3% of the vote.

      And Beto has no chance, mind you.

      1. @damikensc: That isn’t the point. There are plenty of congressional GENERAL elections where the incumbent, Republican or Democrat, has such a comfortable margin that the challenger from the other party has NO chance of winning whatsoever. It therefore follows, by your logic, that those elections should be cancelled also.

    2. And how could we ever know if Taylor Swift is more popular than Bjork without a real vote? Sometimes you need science, and sometimes you don’t.

    3. This is one reason why party primaries should be abolished. Or at the very least, those political parties should pay far more than the entire cost – ie if govt is going to lend its gravitas to the endeavor, it should make a hefty profit for that

      1. Yes squared. The government has a duty to host the general election, but the primaries are private-party elections the public has no more duty to pay for than the election of officers to the Moose Lodge or the 3M Board of Directors.

      2. @JFree: “This is one reason why party primaries should be abolished.”

        Interesting. So what do you imagine would have happened if the Democrats & Republicans in (say) 2013 had banded together to abolish primary elections for the 2016 contest?

        Answer: Trump would NOT now be president because there would have been no primaries for him to win to thereby become the Republican nominee. Instead, you’d have had a presidential general election between the Democrat establishment’s favoured candidate HRC and the Republican establishment’s favoured candidate Jeb Bush.

        Which was, of course, the way it was back in the good old days before primaries were invented.

        1. What was debated here in CO a few years ago was eliminating the presidential vote at caucuses (which are entirely paid for by parties though they do often meet in public spaces like schools or rec centers) and moving to a primary system.

          So – there are alternatives to primaries. Fact is – primaries actually shield the party establishments from grassroots activism/involvement/energy which shields them from change. The proverbial ‘smoke-filled room’ in fact WAS a caucus – but it was closed admission with no public notice to anyone.

          All primary states do have some sort of a caucus system – where people choose their precinct representative, talk about local/national issues face to face, elect county officers, decide how the local county party will finance and carry out its projects for the next couple years, etc. The organizational nuts-and-bolts. And in states with presidential primaries, the caucus remains a ‘smoke-filled room’.

          Because a primary with the national race draws all the attention and voters think that’s the only thing that matters. That becomes the limit of their involvement which means they become very passive which ensures that wholesale politics with ads and big money is the only way to reach them. The caucuses – where the real work of any political party takes place – become virtually unattended except by those in-the-know.

          1. Also – caucuses remain exactly how parties currently select most local candidates for office – and how they select who will represent them at the national convention. Again – shielding all that stuff from the surge of interest from motivated but unreliable newbies every 4 years in a Prez race is EXACTLY how political parties ensure the status quo. Which would include the potential for third parties to arise when people go to a caucus and realize those currently in charge have no intention of changing anything.

        2. In fact – your unawareness that those caucuses still exist is proof that you live in one of the 45 or so states that have primaries instead. You have no concept that the alternative already exists and goes on. Likewise, you have no idea how to change anything in politics. Names just magically appear on ballots for you to ‘choose’. Ads magically appear on TV in the runup to that vote that trigger all your buttons so that you will automatically vote DeRp or DeRp. And you delude yourself that your ‘vote’ – a 5 minute investment of time every few years – rather than all the stuff behind the scenes – is what really matters.

          1. As a further aside – Colorado DID change from a caucus system to a primary system. Due entirely to shitty ignorant newbie assholes moving here from other states and bringing their utter stupidity with them. Both parties in 2016 saw a ‘establishment challenge’ at their caucuses – Sanders won the D caucus and Cruz won the aborted R ‘convention’ (which was held specifically to keep Trumpites away because those delegates were selected ahead of time (partially cuz the Paul folks from 2008/2012 were still annoying the establishment too tho in a gadfly way) – but also pissed them off in doing so).

            So the establishments put an initiative on the ballot – financed by five major DeRp (both sides) donors – with all the nice phraseology ‘let’s have a big open primary where everyone including independents can vote in a primary’. Nice $5 million ad campaign on TV. The opposition was blindsided by this – raised 70k at the last minute by passing the hat around to precinct chairs who really love the ability to formally meet neighbors periodically for all the stuff that is not presidential but local. But obviously failed. So now – the party establishments are forever protected from the Pauls and Sanders and Trumps who bring fresh blood/ideas into those parties every caucus.

    4. The never Trump republicans can vote in the democrat primaries like they did in 2016. But they won’t have Hillary to kick around anymore. (maybe?)

    5. Simone, never one to disappoint, is a fucking idiot.

    6. And primaries come with zero costs in terms of time or money and therefore should be put on regardless of the odds of anyone upsetting the incumbent because who needs cost-benefit analysis.

    7. Carter, Clinton, Bush and Obama also cancelled elections.
      Obama cancelled 10 in 2012.

    8. Really?
      Both Republican and Democratic Parties always have States that cancel primary elections for President’s second term runs. We saw more States than the 3 or 4 currently under Bush41, Clinton, Bush43, and Obama second runs.

  7. Aren’t these primaries run by the state and local governments?

    Why should taxpayers be subsidizing the selection process of a private organization (The Republican Party)? The local government doesn’t help when he re-elect our Chess Club Officers.

    Why are Libertarians upset that there won’t be four government-paid-for primaries?

    1. “Why are Libertarians upset that there won’t be four government-paid-for primaries?”

      Because Trump, that’s why; at least as far as Matt cares.

    2. Because there will still be primary elections, there just will not be any voting for presidential candidates for the Rs. All the other offices that are elected on that cycle will be on the ballot, so this does not save any local government any money.

    3. Because there’s a big difference between four states doing this FOR one of the DeRps and either a)the political parties doing this themselves everywhere or b)all the states doing this TO the DeRps.

    4. I agree that the states shouldn’t be running and paying for party primaries. But if they do take that role on, they shouldn’t act as organs of the parties and decide when there are “serious” candidates and when there aren’t. That’s even worse. If there are candidates who qualify and follow the legal process to be on the ballot, then have the election.

      1. Political parties can be whatever asshole entity they want to be. Weird to see you vigorously defend internet companies with screams of “private company” but claim here. Ultimately political parties are private and can set up whatever rules they want. They’ve been fairly consistent in protecting incumbents, so who gives a shit here except for orange man bad acolytes?

    1. Can you link flat earth videos next, tony?

    2. Silly faggot, no one will click on your link. We don’t trust you anymore than Kiddie Raper.

  8. Really Matt?
    Citing Politico?
    Citing Politico citing unnamed sources?
    Conflating the actions of a private political party with government run actual ‘elections’?
    Can we do whataboutism and talk about the dems setting debate thresholds, and do a contrast and compare on that?
    Can we ask if anyone actually cares?

    1. Welch was forced by reality to lose his Beto Boner, so hard feelings.

    2. Tech companies – private companies!
      Private political parties – orange man bad!

      The party isnt even acting abnormal here. This is basically par for the course for incumbents.

      1. It’s strictly about Matt and the gang hating Trump. Not logic, or principals.

  9. If Bill Weld doesn’t win the Republican nomination, it won’t be because the Republican Party deprived him of the primaries.

    If anything, Bill Weld is being deprived of the primaries because he’s such a piss-ant that no one cares enough to balk at it.

    If Weld didn’t want libertarian leaning registered Republicans to never even consider supporting him–because if there’s anything libertarian about him, it’s only a coincidence–maybe he shouldn’t have used them like toilet paper.

    Here’s Kennedy on that topic:


    If Weld didn’t want non-libertarian Republicans to never support him because he was effectively stumping for Hillary in the last days before the 2016 election–undercutting support for the Libertarian Party ticket–maybe he shouldn’t have done that either.

    I suspect he was as heartbroken as anybody when Hillary lost. Why should Republicans cry over his spilt milk when he spilt it himself and on purpose, too? If you want to go to war with the Republican party over giving someone a fair shake in the primaries, why don’t you find a candidate who hasn’t repeatedly committed political suicide instead?

    1. Was that the same Libertarian Party which you didn’t – and never – support?

      1. Are you still a troll?

        1. Tony doesn’t change his spots with usernames.

  10. Wait, wait, wait. I thought these are private organizations and we shouldn’t criticize their decisions. Isn’t that lolbertarian perspective?

    1. The parties should be private organizations. But when the states become involved in running their selection process, it becomes something else.
      I’d be all for the parties running (and paying for) their own primaries, or selecting their candidates however they want.

      1. So tell the states to stop funding it then. Why does it elevate your ire here?

      2. The States run the election(s) which is a function of government.
        The political parties (i.e. private, non-government corporations) determine the rules for who they will run or not run for elected positions.

        I would note that it is normal for the incumbent President’s political party to allow their State associations to determine if they will allow opposition to the nomination. More State political parties chose not to run opposition against Bush41, Clinton, Bush43, and Obama than those choosing to not oppose Trump. Just as the political parties quite often will choose whether other elected positions will run unopposed or not.

  11. That’s OK. In California, Trump won’t appear on the primary ballot either. But probably his challengers will.
    Got to love people who defend democracy by outlawing bad people so we won’t be tempted to vote for them.
    The Republican party can decide how it wants to do business with registered Republicans, but in California, the Democrats decided for the Republicans.

    1. I doubt CA rules can pass constitutional muster. States cannot unilaterally add requirements for the Presidency.

      1. I am sure you are right. But can’t you applaud the effort?

        1. Smells of desperation.

          Lefties know that Election 2020 will likely spell the end of the Democrat Party as they know it. There are too many Democrats leaving the Party of slavery for it to be able to control national politics anymore.

          1. If the Democratic party disintegrates, so will the GOP. Haven’t you ever seen “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”?

    2. The bestest part of it is, California also outlaws write in votes. So if they decide to ban somebody from the ballot, you can’t even write their name in.

  12. Trump bootlickers inbound to defend their dear leader and this process, per usual.

    1. Someone’s still butthurt that their queen Hillary lost.

    2. Lefty buttlickers hate that Trump will be reelected 2020.

  13. “Quoting “three GOP officials who are familiar with the plans,” the paper said that South Carolina, Nevada, Arizona and Kansas, which between them comprise around 7 percent of the overall delegate haul, will simply wave away political competition rather than let the likes of Bill Weld, Joe Walsh, and perhaps Mark Sanford take a David vs. Goliath swing at an incumbent president whose Gallup approval ratings among Republicans has been between 87 percent and 91 percent all year.”

    Reason coming out against political parties wasting money on fait accomplis.

    Yeah, makes sense.

  14. Unprecedented collusion was Hilly in 2016… You seriously saying anything current tops that?

    1. Hillary LITERALLY controlled the DNC’s money completely in 2016. Every penny of it.

      Trump is not.

      1. “Trump is not.”
        You don’t really believe that do you?

        1. We have no evidence he is. We have undeniable proof Hillary did.

          So, no, I don’t believe he is. I am open to be dissuaded with proof, though.

  15. Political parties can do whatever it wants. Frankly I wouldn’t mind if all primaries were eliminated. Take a private vote or something and be done with it.

  16. There are no state wide elections in 2020? It’s one thing to nominate Trump by acclamation of the back room cigar crowd, but primaries are still needed for other races. Unless republicanism has been thrown out entirely in favor of the back room cigar crowd.

    p.s. I’ve been in the smoke filled back room. I find this move to be so outrageously anti-Republican that I doubt the party can survive past the final term of the current personality candidate.

  17. As a small-government libertarian, I feel it necessary to suspend all elections and make Trump dictator for life, so that we can achieve the small-government goals of a border wall, indefinite unconstitutional detention of committers of the civil infraction of unlawful presence, and sticking it to the geeks at NOAA with the clever use of Sharpies. You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs. That magical (R) stands for (R)oad to freedom!

    1. Small government doesn’t mean they can force political parties to choose their candidates a specific way.

      1. “Small government” doesn’t mean anything at all.

        1. It’s almost like it’s something people say in order to get elected, but which noone actually wants.


      Tony is not now nor has ever been a Libertarian.

      Hahahah. Tony is so desperate.

      1. Neither have you, so fuck off.

  18. Eliminate all primaries. They’re a ridiculous charade that drives down the quality of candidates.

    1. The Libertarian party can nominate Weld (again) or Walsh. Your choice on who you want to head the ticket.

    2. And take all references to party affiliation off of ballots. Get rid of guaranteed access for parties.
      I think we are probably stuck with the party system, but that doesn’t mean states have to work to keep it that way. At least make people do a little work if they want to be pure partisan team players.

      1. I would prefer taking the candidate names off the ballot and voting for the party.

  19. Do I think Walsh and the rest are serious challenges, and that Trump has anything to gain by engaging with them? No. Do I like the idea of the Republican party just greenlighting a candidate without getting their constituents take on the matter? Hell no. That sets a bad precedent.

  20. Why waste time and resources providing a stage for a couple of attention hogging clowns like Walsh and Weld to strut upon?

    They can publish newsletters on their own dime if they want to get their story out.

  21. Republicans has been between 87 percent and 91 percent all year.

    That’s slightly below Venezuela numbers. Can’t we get some more competition in this GOP cult? You clowns are making Madura look bad.

  22. Honestly, I just shook my head when I read the article. Canceling a POTUS primary when the incumbent is of your own party has been done before. Multiple times, by Team R and Team D. Why is this an issue now? One wonders…. Pffffft!

    Secondarily, why does anyone care what a private organization they don’t even belong to does? I mean, is it illegal? No. Are they breaking any rules? No. Are Walsh and Weld getting harmed? No, they can still win the nomination by winning remaining delegates.

    To me, on a practical level, it is a smart money conserving move. Less chance of intra-party inflicted wounds. Less money spent in the primary is more money available for the general election. The primaries are brutal on POTUS candidates, physically. If the RNC thinks the election is going to be close, and holding the Senate is a priority, then every dollar saved by not doing a primary goes toward down ballot candidates for Congress.

    I mean legally, what prevents the RNC from saying, “You know what…fuck it; we don’t need a primary. The Republican Party chooses their candidate(s) and that is done at the convention”? The optics are terrible, but could they do it?

  23. The Wikipedia at least has good coverage of the Fuehrer’s 1933 Enabling Act speech at the Reichstag, with German and English side-by-side. So anyone who wants to have electricity and is not in favor of firing automatic weapons into Planned Parenthood clinics can join the Libertarian party. The Germans didn’t have that option, more’s the pity.

  24. “unprecedented collusion between the Republican National Committee and President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign”

    So Reason exists, in part, to troll the commenters?

    1. If by that you mean, lie about publicly verifiable facts, yeah, apparently.

  25. This is called fascism.

    It is ironic, at least, watching the republicans who used to hate the USSR now embrace similar totalitarian tactics. The republican party has proven the old adage “You become what you hate.”

  26. “amusemens”

    Is that why female comedians aren’t funny?

    Or is it just a sign that even Reason Magazine has dwindling competence at proofreading articles?

  27. Maybe if the Libertarian Party had run on a platform which promised to build a wall around the nation to protect it from all the socialistic foreigners who come here and vote for Democrats, y’all might have kept my vote and gotten more votes. But, no, the Cuck-Libertarians had to fight tooth and nail for open borders, as if having no borders was the best way to protect liberty. Cuck-Libertarians believe in the liberty of the jungle, and not in the ordered liberty and the rule of law based on moral principles required to run a complex civilization.

  28. This is amazing to see a Christmas Tree Farm like that. I just wish both of them a Merry Christmas and all the best for their Christmas Tree Farm Plan.

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