Don’t expect much pomp and circumstance as Washington’s primary results come in tonight. Republicans have all but chosen their candidate, and for Democrats, the results don’t count.
Editor’s note: The above video contains some vulgar language and humor (it is an HBO show, after all). Discussion of Washington state’s voting system begins around the 4:30 mark, right after one such joke.
Don’t expect wall-to-wall CNN coverage today of Washington state’s primary, which might be most notable for its anticlimax and for being joke fodder on late-night television.
Donald Trump has all but sealed up the Republican nomination, while Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders continue to duke it out for delegates. But in Washington, none of that seems to matter, which drew comedian John Oliver’s attention Sunday.
“The Democrats’ presidential primary in Washington doesn’t count. They have one, and it’s this Tuesday, but all pledged delegates were decided to their caucus months ago,” the comedian said on his show, “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.”
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“You know your awful friend who says he doesn’t vote because he doesn’t feel like his vote counts? If he’s a Washington Democrat participating in the primary — he’s right. He’s still awful, but he’s right,” Oliver joked.
Of course, the primary is less of a laughing matter to Washington taxpayers, who pay $11.5 million for the primary, or for those arguing about the accessibility of party voting.
Voters created the primary in 1989, but Democrats have never used it, and instead rely on a caucus, which was held March 26. Fewer than 6 percent of registered voters attended the caucus, which Sen. Bernie Sanders won handily.
Republicans also have a caucus, which was held back in February, but it’s just for show this year.
The state’s GOP convention met last weekend to select delegates to represent Washington state at the party’s national convention. Supporters of Sen. Ted Cruz, already ousted from the race, won 40 of 41 elected delegate slots. Once Tuesday’s primary results are in, those delegates will find out whom they must cast their ballots for at the national convention this summer.
Unsurprisingly, the two parties are at odds over the merit of having both ballot systems.
Democrats argue that the primary is a waste of money and doesn’t encourage participation. Democrats “enjoy the opportunity at least once every four years to sit down and talk to their neighbors,” state party chair Jaxon Ravens told Seattle Times reporter Jim Brunner.
State Republican Party chairwoman Susan Hutchison contends that Democrats are behind the times.
“The caucus system is old and outdated,” she told Brunner. “There are just too many people who can’t participate.”