A Quote on Primaries

Apropos of my previous post, I just came across this while working on the index of A Different Democracy:  American Government in a 31-Country Comparison:

“Primaries mean that the ability of party leadership to shape a party in a particular direction in terms of philosophy or party choice is quite limited.  Rather, the process is one of self-selection by candidates, who choose to adopt a party label and run in the primary, which is then validated or rejected by voters on primary day” (316).

FILED UNDER: Democracy, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. gVOR08 says:

    A good point. I assume you’re offering this in the context of recent Republican Tea Party v incumbent primaries. Anybody can file papers and say he’s a Republican. Brat in VA is an example of somebody doing it on a shoestring. But for the most part, the candidate has to pick up significant funding. I expect they’re getting a lot of small donations, but my impression is they also get a lot of their money from outfits like Freedom Works, the Club for Growth (sic), Norquist’s bunch, etc. This is not just lone Tea Partiers. They get support from factions of elite Republicans.

  2. @gVOR08: It is relevant (and illustrated) by the Tea Party faction of the GOP, yes (although it is a basic statement of how primaries effect parties). It is worth noting that no other party system in the world uses primaries like we do–this helps shape our parties/party system.