Today established Republican party leaders are frowning – glumly wishing there was a path to victory aside from a political fight at the convention. Conservative Republican insurgents harbor similar feelings. If all segments of the Republican party are sincere (and their sincerity can certainly be doubted), a reformation of the present system of presidential primaries is in order. Francis Barry, writing for Bloomberg View, recently proposed a few possible ideas, all of which should garner discussion. Unfortunately, the best idea was not included: a limited nationwide runoff.
A limited nationwide runoff would work like this: one or two weeks after the final primary or caucus, every state with a plurality winner would have a runoff between the two most popular candidates nationwide. The beauty of this reform lies in its fairness: every state would have a say about the top two candidates, and highly fractured electorates across the country would be given the opportunity to clarify their preference.
Since numerous states could not award their delegates until after the runoff vote, the Republican party would be forced sacrifice early certainty for overall clarity. Party leaders should make the sacrifice. Otherwise, Republicans risk offering general election voters a weak candidate chosen by a plurality of his or her party in 2020.