The Salt Lake Tribune, August 2023
Last week, the Utah Republican Party announced its decision to not hold a primary next year. Instead, it’s a return to old-school, in-person caucuses to decide its candidate for president of the United States of America. My colleague Robert Gehrke already wrote about the subject. His story included quotes from Gov. Spencer Cox about how the last time the GOP ran a caucus in 2016, those delegates selected “did not represent the Republican Party at all.”
My question is that really true? I think we all agree that caucuses are more inconvenient than their primary equivalents, especially when by-mail voting is the standard in traditional primaries. But how much does that actually change the electorate? Can we quantify those changes?
There’s no denying it caucuses are terrible for turnout when compared to standard primaries. As Gehrke noted, 177,000 Republicans participated in the 2016 Utah caucuses. When the party used a traditional primary in 2020, about 345,000 Republicans participated.