How Parties Nominate Presidents

William G. Mayer

in The Oxford Handbook of American Political Parties and Interest Groups

Published in print January 2010 | ISBN: 9780199542628
Published online May 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of American Politics

How Parties Nominate Presidents

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  • Politics
  • US Politics
  • Political Institutions



This article reviews the evolution of the presidential nominating process and the role of party in securing presidential nominations from the founding to the modern era. It also describes the understanding of how voters reach decisions in presidential primaries and the larger consequences of the presidential nomination process for the functioning of the American political system. It starts by presenting a brief history of presidential nomination procedures. Two major ideas underlie most of the changes instituted by the McGovern-Fraser Commission. The most conspicuous consequence of the new rules was a significant increase in the number of presidential primaries. No matter what the rules, ambitious candidates and other actors find ways to make them work to their advantage or, at least, to neutralize the disadvantages. Party leaders have found ways of exerting influence in the post-reform nomination process.

Keywords: presidential nomination; voters; American political system; McGovern-Fraser Commission; presidential primaries; party leaders

Article.  8373 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Political Institutions

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