Nominating Presidents: An Evaluation of Voters and Primaries

By John G. Geer | Go to book overview

7
A Few Rules of the Game

At this point we have a good deal of information about voters in primaries. How well these participants select candidates cannot be judged solely on the basis of the information presented so far, however. The rules governing the conduct of presidential primaries may affect the ability of voters in primaries to make good choices. For instance, a common complaint leveled against voters in primaries is that they cannot select "electable" candidates (see, for instance, Polsby 1983; Ranney 1975). The reasons offered in support of this claim are that voters are uninformed about the electability of potential nominees and that voters are unrepresentative of the rank and file. While Chapter 2 casts serious doubt on the accuracy of the latter, the former may have some merit, given the results in Chapter 4. I shall argue, however, that it is not necessarily the weaknesses of voters that prevent candidates with broad support from securing the nomination; it is rather the rules that may be preventing such contenders from capturing a majority of delegates.

This chapter recognizes that different rules can lead to different kinds of behavior by voters. Up to this point I have ignored, for the most part, how the rules may shape the way voters in primaries behave. This chapter and the next one will attempt to rectify that situation.


CAN VOTERS IN PRIMARIES CHOOSE CANDIDATES WITH BROAD SUPPORT?

As noted above, many scholars claim that the replacement of a politician-dominated system of presidential nominations by one dominated by rank-and-file voters has weakened the capacity of the national parties

-105-

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Nominating Presidents: An Evaluation of Voters and Primaries
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Political Science ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures and Tables ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Preface xv
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • Notes 11
  • 2 - The Representativeness of Voters in Presidential Primaries 15
  • 3 - Participation in Presidential Primaries 31
  • 4 - Information and Voters Presidential Primaries 45
  • 4 Information and Voters Presidential Primaries 57
  • 5 - Voting in Presidential Primaries 63
  • Notes 84
  • 6 - The Media and Voters in Presidential Primaries 89
  • Notes 103
  • 7 - A Few Rules of the Game 105
  • Conclusion 120
  • Notes 120
  • 8 - A Proposal for Reform 125
  • Notes 136
  • Appendix I Definition of Variables Used in Explaining Turnout 139
  • Appendix II Description of Survey Questions 141
  • Appendix III The Coding of the Open-Ended Comments 145
  • Bibliography 147
  • Index 155
  • About the Author 161
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