U.S. Presidential Primaries and the Caucus-Convention System: A Sourcebook

By James W. Davis | Go to book overview

15 Proposed National Primary

Over the years, proposals for a national presidential primary have surfaced periodically. Under the proposed national primary the present "mixed" system of presidential primaries and caucus-delegate contests for seats at the national convention would be replaced by a single national presidential primary in each party. This election would be held across the country in all fifty states on the same day, with voters expressing their individual preferences for the party nominee in the November election. All votes would count equally in the national primary. Under a national primary, there would be no convention delegates or intermediaries between the voters and the candidates. The first-round caucuses in Iowa and the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary would vanish.

If American voters were asked to approve a national presidential primary to select presidential candidates, they would most likely endorse the proposal. Gallup polls since the 1950s have showed consistently that approximately two thirds of the respondents favor a national primary over the present system (see Table 15.1). Over the years the Gallup poll has asked respondents the following question: "It has been suggested that presidential candidates be chosen by the voters in a nationwide primary election instead of by political party conventions as at present. Would you favor this?"


HISTORY OF PROPOSED NATIONAL PRIMARY

Federal legislation to establish a national presidential primary dates back to the Progressive era. The first bill to federalize the legal machinery for nominating presidential candidates was introduced in 1911 by Congressman Richard P. Hobson (D-AL). 1 Under his plan, presidential candidates

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U.S. Presidential Primaries and the Caucus-Convention System: A Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Preface ix
  • Notes xii
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • 1 - Presidential Nominations-- American Style 1
  • Introduction 8
  • 2 - History of Presidential Nominations (1789-1968) 9
  • Notes 18
  • 3 - Party Reform 20
  • Notes 32
  • 4 - Presidential Primaries in the Postreform Era (1972-1996) 34
  • Notes 44
  • 5 - The Caucus-Convention System 45
  • Notes 57
  • 6 - National Convention Delegate Selection Before and After Mcgovern-Fraser Reforms 59
  • Notes 66
  • 7 - Who Are the Delegates? 67
  • Notes 81
  • 8 - Nominating Strategies 83
  • Summary 98
  • Notes 99
  • 9 - Nominating Finance 101
  • Notes 122
  • 10 - Supreme Court Decisions and Presidential Nominations 125
  • Notes 132
  • 11 - Primaries, Caucuses, and the Mass Media 134
  • Notes 144
  • 12 - Primary Debates 146
  • Notes 155
  • 13 - Polls and Primaries 157
  • Notes 170
  • 14 - Voter Participation in Primaries and Caucuses 172
  • Notes 192
  • 15 - Proposed National Primary 195
  • Notes 205
  • 16 - Regional Primaries 206
  • Notes 213
  • 17 - National Preprimary Convention Plan and Other Recent Reform Proposals 215
  • Notes 221
  • 18 - National Nominating Conventions 223
  • Notes 251
  • 19 - Presidential Nominations: The Perot Model 254
  • Notes 261
  • Appendixes 263
  • Glossary 269
  • Selected Bibliography 275
  • Index 283
  • About the Author 295
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