The Party's Choice

The Party's Choice

The Party's Choice

The Party's Choice

Excerpt

One basic truth about American politics emerged yet again from the 1972 election: presidential nominations are more important than presidential elections. In this analysis of the nominating process, Williarn R. Keech and Donald R. Matthews examine the events leading up to the nomination of the major parties' candidates in the last ten presidential elections. They find that the crucial period for most presidential aspirants is the three years between one election and the opening of formal campaigning for the next. The search for a consensus candidate often produces a leader whom the press, the polls, and party leaders recognize as the unofficial nominee before the first primaries, and such candidates usually survive with their advantages intact. Rarely are the primaries instrumental in developing candidates who go on to win nomination. However, when no early consensus candidate is identified, when the preferences of party leaders and the rank and file differ sharply, or when political amateurs are active, the formal machinery of the selection process becomes significant in the choice of a nominee.

The mechanics of the nominating process are examined here as they affect the chances of contenders inside and outside the party in power. The informal nominating process before the primaries begin is examined first from the perspective of the incumbent president's party, then from that of' the opposition party. The primaries are treated similarly. Finally, the convention's role is examined in relation. to the extent of agreement that prevailed when the convention began. The authors believe that the system of nominating presidential candi-

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