The strife-torn 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago marks the dividing line between the traditional nominating campaigns and those of the postreform era. In retrospect, few of the anti-Establishment reformers at the tumultuous 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago could have realized at the time how successful their demands for party reform would be and how soon they would be implemented, at least in their own party.
Shortly after the loss of the White House to the Republicans, new Democratic National Chairman Senator Fred Harris of Oklahoma appointed a reform commission headed by Senator George McGovern of South Dakota to review the entire presidential nominating process. McGovern and his fellow commission members held a series of hearings in the nation's capital and across the country before issuing their report, Mandate for Reform, 1 to the Democratic National Committee. The report was accepted and approved with minimal changes in May 1970, well in advance of the 1972 nominating season. Among the unanticipated consequences of the McGovern-Fraser Commission's work, the reforms unintentionally spawned the rapid spread of presidential primaries to more than a dozen new states, bringing the total number of primary states to twenty-nine in 1976 and thirty-five states in 1980. Thus, instead of nearly three quarters of the national convention delegates being chosen in the caucus-convention states, as was the case in 1968, the ratio was almost completely reversed. By 1980, almost three quarters of the national convention delegates were now elected