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All are Welcome: Combating Party Extremists in Congressional Primaries

Sat, November 9, 2:00 to 3:30pm, Wyndham Philadelphia Hotel, Floor: Lobby Level, Jefferson


While the institution of primary election types (closed, semi-closed, open) have been analyzed extensively at the presidential level, state and local nominating systems are an understudied area of research. This paper attempts to address the puzzling behavior of why states choose certain nominating systems over others on a macro level. We argue that depending on the ideological divergence between state party leaders and their citizens, party leaders will select certain nominating systems over others in order to better control candidates selection. Party leaders goals are to utilize a candidate selection process that is most likely to nominate a candidate closer to their ideal points at the lowest possible cost to the party and party elites. Accordingly, the further left (right) primary electorates are from the Democratic (Republican) leadership, the more likely state party leaders are to open the system to non-partisans and opposition party members. In this manner, party leaders are able to dilute the voices of extremists in order to select more favorable candidates.