The idea for this book took root in Stanley Kelley's seminar on party politics in the spring of 1982. During that term I began to read about both the present and past arrangements for nominating presidents. This strategy afforded me the opportunity to read not only the work of political scientists like James Ceasar, William Crotty, Nelson Polsby, and Austin Ranney, but also scholars like James Bryce, Woodrow Wilson, M. Ostrogorski, and Edward Sait. Much to my surprise, every nominating system since the inception of the Constitution has come under attack by political observers of the time. Interestingly, a common theme of those attacks was that the decision-makers, whether congressmen, party leaders, or the rank and file, were not qualified to choose presidential nominees. There were generally two problems with these claims. First, many of the arguments (both past and present) lacked a sound empirical foundation. Second, these criticisms appeared often to be motivated by partisan considerations. So, for instance, one reason local politicians viewed the congressional caucus as "unrepresentative" was that members of Congress, not these local officials, were nominating presidential candidates.
The following pages have two objectives that I hope begin to develop answers to whether the current set of decision-makers, voters in primaries, are qualified to choose presidential nominees. The first objective is to develop standards to judge the qualifications of voters in primaries. This task is fraught with pitfalls because any number of standards might be deemed reasonable by political scientists. I have tried to give good reasons for my particular criteria, but I am sure some will take issue with them. Such criticism will surely be justified, but the more important