Analysis: Why Are GOP Primaries Such a Mess?

While Florida gives its delegates winner-take-all, the largest prize -- California -- splits it's delegates by congressional district. Texas, which controls the second-largest number of delegates behind California, allocates its delegates proportionally.

What's not clear about Texas is when the primary will occur. Federal courts have rejected the new GOP-drawn legislative maps in an ongoing legal fight. Texas Republicans have moved the primary back at least twice and is still not 100 percent certain of the probable, court-recommended May 29 date.

The rules for running for president in a major party are messy, byzantine and different down to the local level, in some places.

Counting of ballots can be spotty, as in Iowa, or ineffective. It took the Nevada GOP nearly two days to count the caucus votes from the same number of people that attend an average Major League Baseball game.

The local and state party systems are the backbone of the national parties, grooming candidates for offices at the state level and for Congress. They are the key pieces of infrastructure that help get out the vote for both parties. But they're also ungainly webs of bureaucracy with their own internal politicking.

It's not an issue that's isolated to Republicans, although their foibles have been showcased this year because there is not a major challenger to President Obama. But four years ago, remember the superdelegates?

Then, as now, one of the main problems was Florida, where both statewide parties have made sport of moving their primary up in violation of national party rules.

Democratic candidates Obama and Hillary Clinton pledged in 2008 not to campaign in Florida, but conducted surreptitious activities anyway. Florida had been stripped by the national committee of all of it's delegates.

There is a chance the primary campaign could have had a different outcome if Clinton had been given all of the state's delegates to begin with. The voice of Floridians supporting her candidacy was not heard at the convention. But all of the state's delegates ultimately got to go to the party anyway. The DNC surely didn't want to turn off all the party officials in the swing state of Florida.

This year, expecting, perhaps the RNC would reinstate its delegates eventually, too -- the convention takes place in Tampa, Fla., after all -- Florida Republicans broke the RNC's rules and moved their primary date up into January. That created a leapfrog of states moving up their primaries, shortened the campaign season, and led Iowa, which wanted to go first, to hold it's caucus Jan. 3.

There is always the argument that the democracy is not supposed to be a clean and smooth-running business. The will of the people is supposed to trickle up to Washington rather than trickling back down from the national leaders. But the lack of ballot access for some major candidates, the problems in counting votes and late-changing rules have created a system of confusion that has arguably hurt the party.

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