The Representativeness of Voters in Presidential Primaries
One of the most common and troubling criticisms of voters in primaries is that they are unrepresentative of the party following. V. O. Key ( 1956) was probably the first to voice this concern about participants in primaries, arguing that "the effective primary constituency . . . may come to consist predominantly of the people of certain sections of a state, of persons of specific national origin or religious affiliation, of people especially responsive to certain styles of political leadership or shades of ideology, or of groups markedly unrepresentative in one way or another of the party following" (p. 153). While Key presented some aggregate data to support his suspicions, subsequent scholars have contended that voters who participate in the 30 or so presidential primaries are better educated, better paid, and more ideologically extreme than the party following ( Ranney 1972; Ladd 1978; Lengle 1981; Polsby 1983; Keeter and Zukin 1983; Crotty and Jackson 1985).
If these critics are correct, serious questions arise about relying on voters in primaries to choose presidential nominees. If voters in primaries, for instance, are more ideologically extreme in their orientation to politics than the party following, the candidates chosen by voters may reflect this ideological bias ( Lengle 1981). Such nominees could have a difficult time winning general elections since they would have limited success in appealing to the moderate voters who are essential to a victory in November. Given that a major objective of any political party is to win elections, these kinds of outcomes would be troublesome. A further implication of these claims is that if ideologically extreme elements of each party dominate the nominating process, parties in general may not be responsive to the electorate at large. As Everett Ladd ( 1978) ar-