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More Than Half of U.S. Voters Think the Presidential Primaries Are ‘Rigged’

April 27, 2016, 7:44 PM UTC
Donald Trump (left) and Bernie Sanders
Donald Trump (left) and Bernie Sanders
Photographs by Mike Stone and Jay Paul--Reuters

GOP frontrunner Donald Trump isn’t the only American who thinks the country’s election process isn’t on the level.

More than half of U.S. voters said they think the country’s current voting system for presidential primaries and caucuses is “rigged” against certain candidates, according to a new poll from Reuters and research company Ipsos, the results of which were published on Wednesday.

Reuters said that roughly 51% of likely voters who responded to the poll between April 21 and April 26 agreed that the presidential nomination process is “rigged,” while more than a quarter of respondents said they don’t understand how the primary process works.

Those polling results suggest that it’s a lot more than just foil-hat-wearing cranks who think the fix is in with regard to presidential nominations. The poll also sheds some light on why candidates like the billionaire and former reality TV star Trump and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders—each of whom has questioned the validity of the nomination process—are resonating with voters who claim to be wary of so-called establishment politicians.

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Those candidates’ attacks on the country’s political system have been met with enthusiasm from voters, many of whom also feel that the current setup means their votes count for less than they should. According to Reuters, about 71% of respondents to the recent poll said they would prefer to have a direct vote decide their party’s nominee, as opposed to using delegates as is the case with the current system.


Both Sanders and Trump have been especially critical of the role of delegates in the electoral process, with Trump complaining about the number of delegates awarded to his rivals in states where he won the popular vote. Sanders and his backers, meanwhile, have taken aim at the Democratic party’s use of “superdelegates,” party insiders who can swing their support to any candidate they like, regardless of popular voting results. In the current Democratic primary, Sanders trails frontrunner Hillary Clinton by a wide margin in terms of superdelegates, with only 39 compared to her 519.