Choosing Presidential Candidates

Archive Report

New Methods of Selection

Primaries: The New Politics of Attrition

Is this the best way to choose presidential candidates? That is the question many political analysts are asking now that the primary season is over. Twenty years ago, John F. Kennedy needed only two big primary victories — Wisconsin and West Virginia — to persuade party leaders to support him for the 1960 Democratic nomination. But since then, the power of political parties has been diluted as the nominating system has changed to emphasize mass participation. While the change is primarily an outgrowth of extensive Democratic rules changes in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the widening of the delegate selection process has had an impact on Republicans as well, most notably in the proliferation of ...

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