Presidential Primaries

Florida enacted the first presidential primary in 1901. The Wisconsin primary of 1905 was the first one to provide for the mandatory direct selection of national convention delegates. In 1910 Oregon implemented the preferential presidential primary with delegates legally bound to support the primary winner. By 1916, 26 states had either direct election of delegate primaries or presidential preferential primaries or both. Interest in the primaries, however, began to wane and by 1935, eight states had repealed them. After World War II interest in them picked up. By 1976, 26 states plus the District of Columbus had some variant of a presidential preference primary. By 1980 there were 37 states with presidential primaries. However, by 1984 the number was down to 25. Some primaries have been winner take all and other have used a proportion system for allocating delegates. The Democrats adopted a minimum floor of 15 percent of the vote for allocating any delegates to a candidate. In some cases candidates file to be in a state primary but in other cases the candidate name is entered without his/her permission.

Types of Primaries

Presidential preference with no vote on delegates who are elected in state and district conventions
Presidential preference with vote on delegates
Delegate selection primary in which voters elect delegates to the national convention either pledged or unpledged

Criticisms of Primaries

Make election too long
Weakens party control
Low voter turnout
State competition to set early primary dates

Suggested Changes

Regional primaries - have been held on a limited basis; the largest one currently is the Southern states Super Tuesday regional primary; They were joined in 2000 by a regional primary composed of several western states.
National primary - Democratic Study Commission rejected such due to 1) strip party leadership of any role in the nominating process 2) increase media role to lessened party role, 3) could encourage more third party contestants

While political parties could continue to hold national conventions, with the presidential nomination process not a party of them, the media would pay much less attention. Too, this would rob the parties of an opportunity to parade their platforms before the American people.

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