tional convention delegates be chosen in caucuses. But rather than engage in another costly confrontation in 1988, the Democratic National Committee backed down and accepted the results of the Wisconsin open primary and its proportional allocation of delegates based on the primary vote.
The rapid spread of presidential primaries to more than two thirds of the states has, it must be conceded, helped eliminate many credentials challenges because the voters decide the issue in the primary. It becomes simply a matter of counting votes of the various contenders; all factions and groups supporting delegates within the party have a fair and open chance to win. As political scientist Louise Overacker noted more than seventy years ago in her early study of the presidential primary system, after the voters have spoken on primary day, the competing delegates know that they have won or lost fair and square. 21
Connecticut, the last state to adopt the direct primary, found one aspect of its closed primary law challenged by the state Republican Party in the early 1980s. The dispute constituted the first time a political party had challenged a closed primary law on First Amendment grounds. 22 Until recently, state law determined the type of primary, including presidential primary, in each state. If party officials wished to change or modify the primary, they had to do it through the legislature. In Connecticut the Republicans, outnumbered in this heavily Democratic state, decided that their best hope of building their party was to attract unaffiliated, independent voters to their primary election. But the state's closed primary law banned this action. The GOP first tried to change the law, but they were frustrated by the Democratically controlled legislature in 1984 and by a gubernatorial veto the following year. Consequently, they turned to the federal courts for relief. 23
In a 1986 decision, Tasbjian v. Republican Party of Connecticut, 24 the Supreme Court upheld the action of the Republican Party in Connecticut to open up its closed primary to political independents. In a five to four decision, the High Court ruled that the state of Connecticut had violated the First Amendment "right of association" of the state's Republican Party. The justices upheld the authority of the party rather than the state to control its own nominating process. 25 As a result, state parties are now allowed to determine the eligible electorate in primaries. In the process, they may also have a greater voice in determining who the party nominee will be.