Campaigns to win the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations are longer, more complex, and more confusing to the observer than the general election itself. The maze of delegate-selection procedures includes state primaries and caucuses as well as the traditional "smoke-filled room." Complicated federal election laws govern campaign financing. Sometimes many candidates enter and drop out of the race, while sometimes a stable two-way contest occurs: the 1976 nomination campaigns of Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford exemplified each extreme. Is it possible to propose general principles to explain the apparent chaos of our presidential nomination system? Can those principles account for two such starkly different campaigns as occurred in 1976? In Before the Convention, political scientist John H. Aldrich presents a systematic analysis of presidential nomination politics, based on application of rational-choice models to candidate behavior. Aldrich views the candidates as decision makers with limited resources in a highly competitive environment. From this perspective, he seeks to determine why and how candidates choose to run, why some succeed and others fail, and what consequences the nomination process has for the general election and, later, for the President in office.
Aldrich begins with a brief history of the presidential selection process, focusing on the continuing shift of power from political elites to the mass electorate. He then turns to a detailed analysis of the 1976 nomination campaigns. Using data from a variety of sources, Aldrich demonstrates that the very different patterns in these races both conform to the rational-choice model. The analysis includes consideration of numerous questions of strategy. Is there a "momentum" to campaigns? How does a candidate identify and exploit this intangible quality? How do candidates decide where to contend and where not to contend? What is the nature of policy competition among candidates? When does a candidate prefer a "fuzzy" position to a clearly stated one? Other topics include reforms in campaign financing and the expanded and changed role of news coverage.
Before the Convention fills a significant gap in the literature on presidential politics, and therefore should be of particular importance to specialists in this area. It will be ofinterest also to everyone who is concerned with understanding the "rules of the game" for a complicated but vitally important exercise of American democracy.
Brian Duffy has been poking fun at the Iowa caucuses for just about as long as they’ve been a media circus, since the 1970s. Now, the longtime editorial cartoonist has gathered a selection of his best images lampooning the politicians on their quadrennial stampedes through Iowa’s fields and towns.
Whether you’re anticipating or dreading the onset of another caucus season in 2016, this book will put it all into perspective. From Jimmy Carter’s innovative 1976 effort to Barack Obama’s come-from-behind win in 2008, from George H. W. Bush’s storming to victory in 1980 to George W. Bush’s coasting to his win in 2000, from Gary Hart’s peccadillos in 1988 to John Edwards’s missteps in 2008, from Elizabeth Dole’s determination to breach the White House boys’ club in 2000 to Hillary Clinton’s fall from frontrunner to third place in 2008, here is American presidential campaigning in all its glory. With pigs.
Enduring Controversies in Presidential Nominating Politics retraces the more than two hundred-year history of presidential elections in the United States to provide a primer on how the process has evolved from the days of the founders, through the heyday of nominating conventions, to today’s overwhelming interest in early primaries.
Original essays by the editors introduce, critique, and occasionally even refute a wide variety of historical readings including Alexander Hamilton’s defense of election procedures, excerpts of individual states’ nominations of candidates in 1824, an overview of the impact television has had on nominating conventions, and calls for a national rotating primary scheme in 2004. As a whole, the collection reveals the common threads that run through the history of the nominating process, and points out that today’s litany of complaints is not at all new.
Although some people refer to Iowa as “flyover country,” presidential candidates and political reporters in the national press corps have no difficulty locating the state every four years at the beginning of presidential primary season.
When Iowa Democrats pushed forward their precinct caucuses in 1972, the Iowa caucuses became the first presidential nominating event in the nation. Politicos soon realized the impact of Iowa’s new status and, along with the national media, promoted the caucuses with a vengeance. The Iowa Precinct Caucuses chronicles how the caucuses began, how they changed, and starting in 1972 how they became fodder for and manipulated by the mass media. Hugh Winebrenner and Dennis J. Goldford argue that the media have given a value to the Iowa caucuses completely out of proportion to the reality of their purpose and procedural methods. In fact, the nationally reported “results” are contrived by the Iowa parties to portray a distorted picture of the process. As presidential primaries have grown in the media spotlight and superseded the parties’ conventions, Iowa has become a political proving ground for the confident, the hopeful, and the relatively unknown, but at what cost to the country?
The third edition of this classic book has been updated to include the elections of 2000, which saw the first winner of the Iowa caucuses to reach the White House since 1976; of 2004 and the roller-coaster fortunes of Howard Dean and John Kerry; and of 2008 and the unlikely emergence of Barack Obama as a presidential contender.
The presidential primary season used to be a long sequence of elections. In recent years many states have moved their presidential primaries earlier in the year in the belief that this increases their influence over the choice of presidential nominees. Similarly, in the past most voters have gone to a polling place and voted on election day. Now an increasing number of voters are not voting on election day but are using mail-in or absentee ballots to vote, often weeks before other voters.
Does the movement to a large number of early presidential primaries reduce the ability of voters to learn about the candidates? Do voters who vote early miss important information by not following the entire campaign, or are they, as some argue, more partisan? In a unique study Rebecca B. Morton and Kenneth C. Williams investigate the impact these changes have on the choices voters make. The authors combine a formal, theoretical model to derive hypotheses with experiments, elections conducted in labs, to test the hypotheses.
Their analysis finds that sequence in voting does matter. In simultaneous voting elections well-known candidates are more likely to win, even if that candidate is the first preference of only a minority of the voters and would be defeated by another candidate, if that candidate were better known. These results support the concerns of policy makers that front-loaded primaries prevent voters from learning during the primary process. The authors also find evidence that in sequential elections those who vote on election day have the benefit of information received throughout the whole course of the campaign, thus supporting concerns with mail-in ballots and other early balloting procedures.
This book will interest scholars interested in elections, the design of electoral systems, and voting behavior as well as the use of formal modeling and experiments in the study of politics. It is written in a manner that can be easily read by those in the public concerned with presidential elections and voting.
Rebecca B. Morton is Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Iowa. Kenneth C. Williams is Associate Professor of Political Science, Michigan State University.
Outsiders and Openness in the Presidential Nominating System examines the relationship of outsiders to the presidential nominating system since the late nineteenth century. He studies in depth the campaigns of Estes Kefauver, Barry Goldwater, George Wallace, Eugene McCarthy, George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Gary Hart, Paul Tsongas, Jerry Brown, and Ross Perot.
Throughout the contest for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, politicians and voters alike worried that the outcome might depend on the preferences of unelected superdelegates. This concern threw into relief the prevailing notion that—such unusually competitive cases notwithstanding—people, rather than parties, should and do control presidential nominations. But for the past several decades, The Party Decides shows, unelected insiders in both major parties have effectively selected candidates long before citizens reached the ballot box.
Tracing the evolution of presidential nominations since the 1790s, this volume demonstrates how party insiders have sought since America’s founding to control nominations as a means of getting what they want from government. Contrary to the common view that the party reforms of the 1970s gave voters more power, the authors contend that the most consequential contests remain the candidates’ fights for prominent endorsements and the support of various interest groups and state party leaders. These invisible primaries produce frontrunners long before most voters start paying attention, profoundly influencing final election outcomes and investing parties with far more nominating power than is generally recognized.
Reflecting on 2016, it might seem that the national parties have little control over how the presidential nominations unfold and who becomes their presidential candidate. Yet the parties wield more influence than voters in determining who prevails at the National Conventions. Although the reforms of the late 1960s and 1970s gave rank-and-file party members a clear voice in the selection of presidential candidates, the parties retain influence through their ability to set the electoral rules. Despite this capability, party elites do not always fully understand the consequences of the rules and therefore often promote a system that undermines their goals. The Primary Rules illuminates the balance of power that the parties, states, and voters assert on the process. By utilizing an original, comprehensive data set that details the electoral rules each party employed in each state during every nomination from 1976 to 2016, Caitlin E. Jewitt uncovers the effects of the rules on the competitiveness of the nomination, the number of voters who participate, and the nomination outcomes. This reveals how the parties exert influence over their members and limit the impact of voters. The Primary Rules builds on prior analyses and extends work highlighting the role of the parties in the invisible primary stage, as it investigates the parties’ influence once the nominations begin. The Primary Rules provides readers with a clearer sense of what the rules are, how they have changed, their consequences, and practical guidance on how to modify the rules of the nomination system to achieve their desired outcomes in future elections.
This is the story of a revolution without fanfare, a hidden struggle for party reform that produced a new era in national politics. From this struggle emerged the greatest deliberately planned and centrally imposed change in the mechanics of delegate selection, and hence presidential nomination, in all of American history. The success of this revolution heralded the arrival of new political coalitions that would alter the very character of presidential politics, from campaign organization to grass-roots participation. The battle for reform raged within the Democratic party from 1968 to 1972, although it would quickly affect the Republican party as well. It was intense, intricate—and nearly invisible. Yet its chronicle is essential background for political practitioners, professional commentators, and interested citizens alike. And it is the basis for understanding the subsequent course of national politics and the current shape of presidential politics. Quiet Revolution provides the first definitive account of this struggle for reform, an account that is at once modern political history and an illuminating analysis of contemporary American politics. Based on candid interviews with numerous key participants and on extensive archival material, this compelling narrative offers the fascination of political maneuvers closely observed, the drama of momentous events unfolding, and the challenge of a new politics newly interpreted.
If Barack Obama had not won in Iowa, most commentators believe that he would not have been able to go on to capture the Democratic nomination for president. Why Iowa? offers the definitive account of those early weeks of the campaign season: from how the Iowa caucuses work and what motivates the candidates’ campaigns, to participation and turnout, as well as the lingering effects that the campaigning had on Iowa voters. Demonstrating how “what happens in Iowa” truly reverberates throughout the country, five-time Iowa precinct caucus chair David P. Redlawsk and his coauthors take us on an inside tour of one of the most media-saturated and speculated-about campaign events in American politics.
Considering whether a sequential primary system, in which early, smaller states such as Iowa and New Hampshire have such a tremendous impact is fair or beneficial to the country as a whole, the authors here demonstrate that not only is the impact warranted, but it also reveals a great deal about informational elements of the campaigns. Contrary to conventional wisdom, this sequential system does confer huge benefits on the nominating process while Iowa’s particularly well-designed caucus system—extensively explored here for the first time—brings candidates’ arguments, strengths, and weaknesses into the open and under the media’s lens.