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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Vote in the primary—the country depends on it

On Tuesday March 5, Massachusetts will hold both its Republican and Democratic presidential primaries. For the Democrats, Biden faces Minnesota congressman Dean Phillips, while on the GOP ballot, Trump is being challenged by former South Carolina Governor and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley. Several ward, town and state committee candidates will appear on the ballot as well. While at first glance, the 2024 election is portrayed as a repeat of 2020—the same candidates, the same polarization and the same issues—it doesn’t have to be. As college students, we have the power to influence the nominees of both parties.

In Massachusetts, we hold semi-open primaries. This means that if you are a registered Democrat, you must vote in the Democratic primary, while registered Republicans must vote in the Republican primary. However, if you are an independent voter, also called “unenrolled,” you can select which ballot you vote on. While Massachusetts is a solidly liberal state in presidential elections, the Massachusetts State Government reported that 61 percent of our registered voters are unenrolled. That’s 2,920,375 voters as of Feb. 1, 2023 [1]. Nearly three million voters have the choice to vote in either the Democratic Primary or the Republican Primary, and while most are likely to abstain from primary voting altogether, I argue that voting in this primary is more important than voting in November. 

Let’s face a simple truth: Joe Biden is deeply unpopular. Reuters shows his disapproval rating at an astonishing 57 percent at time of writing, worse than his 50 percent disapproval in the wake of the Afghanistan withdrawal [2]. While not directly facing criminal charges, he is struggling to reign in over two dozen governors who have disregarded his failed border policies, faces the threat of impeachment regarding the border, and was recently determined to have willfully retained and disclosed classified documents after his term as vice president. White House Special Counsel Robert Hur implied in his recent report that Biden lacked the “mental willfulness” required to convict him of a felony, contributing to growing concerns over the president’s limited mental capacities [3].

Donald Trump remains more popular with voters than Biden: FiveThirtyEight polls the former president at 52 percent disapproval as of January 2024 [4]. However, Trump has recently been barred from doing business in the state of New York; in addition, he faces 91 criminal charges across four separate cases, and was twice impeached as president. He has suffered several severe gaffes, which have also called into question his mental capabilities [5]. This is to say that neither Trump nor Biden should be their party’s presidential nominee. It is time for a new era of leadership. 

Enter Nikki Haley and Dean Phillips. Both are regarded as long shots, and frankly, Phillips is. According to FiveThirtyEight, he maintains a polling average of less than seven percent [6]. However, he offers an alternative for Democrats to rally behind, as he holds a mix of progressive and traditional Democratic values while also promising to be a bipartisan president. The candidate who has the best chance of upsetting the status quo is Nikki Haley. Haley is a more moderate Republican who Trump said is “permanently barred from the MAGA camp,” according to The Hill [7]. Haley’s coalition of voters is primarily suburban families, college educated voters and moderate Republicans who are tired of the Trump-induced chaos. For many independent voters, she is a strong alternative to the “lesser of two evils” dynamic that we faced in 2016 and 2020. More importantly, a Haley nomination will prevent Trump from appearing on the ballot in November. 

In both the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire Primary, Haley had a robust performance amongst independent voters. Her campaign consistently has momentum, with donors and voters flocking to her cause. The challenge, however, is combatting the MAGA vote. Twenty-six states have open primaries, and it’s up to voters in these states to vote in their primaries and deny Trump the nomination; these are only long shot candidates if we don’t support them at the ballot box. Here’s what you can do. 

First and foremost, register to vote. If you’re not registered to vote, you can register on the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website before Feb. 24 to vote in the March 5 Primary. For our out-of-state Beacons, if you reside in Massachusetts for school, you can register to vote here—go to the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts website to learn more [8]. Registering to vote or updating your party information is about a five minute process, and all you need is an ID or the last four of your Social Security Number. Also, make a plan to vote. All polling places in Massachusetts will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., with some polling places opening earlier. If you need a ride to a polling place, call your local election office and see what resources they have.

Make the right choice on the ballot. Whichever party you vote for, vote for the candidate that you believe will give our country, and our democracy, the best chance of survival. There are clear right and wrong choices on this ballot, and I encourage you to vote your conscience and not blindly follow your party. 2024 does not have to be the third election where we chose between “the lesser of two evils.” It is up to each and every one of us to vote in the primary election. We’ve got a country to save.



[1] https://www.sec.state.ma.us/divisions/elections/download/research-and-statistics/enrollment_count_20230201.pdf  

[2] https://www.reuters.com/graphics/USA-BIDEN/POLL/nmopagnqapa/  

[3] https://apnews.com/article/biden-memory-age-special-counsel-report-doj-f4232bc8316e556ed467185b67c3e0a8 

[4] https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/polls/favorability/donald-trump/  

[5] https://apnews.com/article/nikki-haley-trump-mental-fitness-pelosi-522c3cddcaf7b85df5a64658c5041e96  

[6] https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/polls/president-primary-d/2024/national/  

[7] https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/4428148-trump-warns-haley-donors-will-be-permanently-barred-maga-camp/  

[8] https://www.sec.state.ma.us/OVR/