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C HAPTER 5. Nominations for State and Congressional Offices Although Americans pride themselves on having operated with free elections for over two hundred.

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Presentation on theme: "C HAPTER 5. Nominations for State and Congressional Offices Although Americans pride themselves on having operated with free elections for over two hundred."— Presentation transcript:

1 C HAPTER 5

2 Nominations for State and Congressional Offices Although Americans pride themselves on having operated with free elections for over two hundred years, the voter’s choice in general elections is severely limited  In most elections, citizens are faced with a limited choice between Republicans and Democratic nominees  American democracy, therefore, is affected in critical ways by the decisions the two major parties make in selecting their nominees  As a result, controversy has surrounded the parties’ nomination decisions since the advent of political parties in the United States

3 The Evolution of the Direct Primary  After the American Revolution, the legislative caucus (an informal meeting of all the party’s selected members of the state senate and house) became the main means of nominations  Considered unrepresentative, this method was replaced by a convention system of nomination, where a greater number of delegates participated  Still considered a process susceptible to manipulation, by the early twentieth century, the convention system was replaced in most states by the direct primary—nomination of party candidates by the voters directly

4 The Evolution of the Direct Primary  The direct primary took power away from the party organization, thereby lessening the power of party leaders over elected officials  In the South, the direct primary evolved as a means to permit popular government where interparty competition had ceased to exist  The direct primary, however, also delayed the development of two-party competition, by weakening the minority party through focusing public attention upon contests within the dominant party  By 1976, all states had adopted the direct primary

5 State Regulation of the Direct Primary  There is a tremendous diversity among the states in the operation of the direct primary  Although the direct primary is the predominant method of nominating candidates, thirteen states either permit or require a role for party conventions  There is also a wide variation among the states in terms of the party affiliation requirements imposed in order for a voter to participate in primaries  The states array themselves along a continuum regarding the severity of their party affiliation requirements (Table 5.1.)

6 Table 5.1. Party Affiliation Requirements for Voting in Direct primaries Closed: Party registration required; changes permitted within a fixed time period CT, DE, FL, KY, ME, NE, NV, NJ, NM, NY, OK, PA, SD Semi-closed: Unaffiliated voters permitted to vote in a party primary; or voters may change their party registration at the polls AZ, CA, CO, IA, KS, MD, MA, NH, NC, OR, RI, UT, WV, WY Semi-open: Voters must publicly declare their choice of party ballot at polling place on election day AL, AR, GA, IL, IN, MS, OH, SC, TN, TX, VA Open: Voter decides in which party primary to vote in privacy of voting booth HI, ID, MI, MN, MO, MT, ND, VT, WI “Nonpartisan”: Top two primary vote- getters, regardless of party, are nominated for general election LA Source: Federal Election Commission, “Party Affiliation and Primary Voting 2000.” Malcolm E. Jewell and Sarah M. Morehouse, Political Parties and Elections in American States (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2001), p. 103 Note: For more detailed differences within these groups, see the notes to table 5.1. in the book.

7 State Regulation of the Direct Primary Regulation of Candidacies and Cross-Filing  In addition to regulating which persons may vote in a party primary, states decide the qualifications a candidate must meet in order to run  Most states permit a person to run in only one party’s primary, and nine states allow cross-filing  Cross-filing tends to favor the dominant party to win the endorsements of both parties, benefiting from the generally lower turnout in primaries

8 State Regulation of the Direct Primary The Runoff Primary and “Sore Loser Laws”  In eleven states a majority (50% +1) of the vote in the primary is required for nomination, rather than a plurality of the vote (more than any other candidate)  If no candidate receives a majority, a second or runoff primary is held between the top two finishers in the first primary  The importance of a party nomination is enhanced if a candidate who loses a primary is not permitted to run in the general election as an independent  Such regulations, called “sore loser laws,” are enacted in twenty-seven of the states

9 State Regulation of the Direct Primary Regulating the Timing of Primaries  Because party primaries are administered by state governments, each state sets the date for primaries, and there is great variation among states in when the primaries are held (Figure 5.1.)  Some argue that late primaries will increase turnout in the general election by focusing the electorate’s attention for a shorter time period  Others argue that late primaries do not allow enough time for citizens to get to know the candidates, and that this potentially benefits incumbents

10 Figure 5.1. Timing of Congressional Primaries in 2006 FL, DE, AZ, NH, RI, MD, WI, NY, VT, MN, WA, MA, HI KS, TN, MO, MI, CT, CO, NV, AK, WY OK, GA NM, MS, CA, IA, MT, SD, AL, NJ, ME, SC, ND, VA, UT IL, OH, IN, NC, WV, NE, KY, OR, PA, ID, AR TX, IL MarchMayJuneJulyAugustSeptember Month Number of Primaries

11 Preprimary Endorsements Although one of the consequences of the direct primary has been to reduce party organization control over nominations, the use of preprimary endorsements by the party organizational leadership has retained some of its influence over the nomination process  In seven states, state law requires preprimary endorsement by party conventions  Endorsement carries with it the right to have one’s name placed on the primary ballot while other candidates might have to qualify by petition  In fifteen states, endorsements by one or both parties are allowed by party rules, while not required by law

12 Preprimary Endorsements Consequences of Preprimary Endorsements:  Preprimary endorsement reduces the amount of competition in primaries, since candidates who fail to gain endorsement often withdraw from the race  The ability of party organizational endorsements to give the winning edge to their candidates has declined in recent years, often because other candidates have larger funds or a more effective media campaign  A potential disadvantage of being the endorsed candidate is getting tagged with the label of being the candidate of the “bosses” or “king-makers”

13 Competition in Primaries It was the expectation of the reformers that the direct primary would stimulate competition among candidates for party nominations, but this hope has not been fulfilled  In a substantial percentage of the primaries, nominations either go uncontested or involve only nominal challenges to the front-runner  The two key determinants of intraparty competition in the primaries are the extent of the interparty competition and incumbency

14 Competition in Primaries The impact of interparty competition  Research shows that competition in primaries is greatest where a party’s prospects in the general election are the highest  Thus, where the opposition party is weak, competition in primaries tends to be greater The impact of incumbency  Because incumbents have an advantage in general elections, primaries where an incumbent is present tend to ward off any serious opposition, particularly in nominations for the U.S. House of Representatives

15 Voter Turnout in Primaries  Turnout rates in primaries tends to be quite low—an average of 24 percent in midterm elections from 1962 to 1994 (and as low as 17 percent in 1998), but with substantial regional variations  Like in general elections, primary voters tend to be better educated and older than nonvoters, and they tend to have a strong party identification  Party activists, who also have stronger ideological orientations, tend to have higher rates of turnout, and could thus possibly bias the primary results  Statutory regulations, such as whether the primary is open or closed, also affect turnout

16 The National Party Organizations and Nominations in the States  The national party organizations traditionally played only a minor role in candidate recruitment and nomination  This changed in the late 1970s and early 1980s because of the realization that candidate quality is a major determinant of electoral success  The national party committees now aggressively recruit candidates to enter primaries  This involvement could potentially create a pool of strong candidates with strong ties to national party, thus contributing to a stronger party unity

17 The Direct Primary and the General Election  The direct primary has significant implications for the general election, in that it narrows the field of candidates and the choice available to the voter  The outcome of a primary may also affect a party’s general election prospects—enhancing the prospects if a strong candidate wins and diminishing them if a weak candidate is nominated  Preprimary endorsements is one method of seeking to prevent divisive primaries  There are also cases when a contested primary may help the nominee, such as increased publicity and name-recognition before the general election

18 The Direct Primary and Political Parties  The institutionalization of the direct primary as the principal method of nomination is part of a long- term trend toward shifting power away from party leaders toward voters  Only in a few states are party organizations strong enough to secure an individual’s nomination through their endorsement  Although party support can be helpful to a candidate in gaining a nomination, it is rarely sufficient, but the candidate must build a personal organization  The direct primary has thus contributed to a candidate-centered type of politics in America


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