Primary Politics: Everything You Need to Know about How America Nominates Its Presidential Candidates

Primary Politics: Everything You Need to Know about How America Nominates Its Presidential Candidates

by Elaine Kamarck

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The 2020 presidential primaries are on the horizon and this third edition of Elaine Kamarck’s Primary Politics will be there to help make sense of them. Updated to include the 2016 election, it will once again be the guide to understanding the modern nominating system that gave the American electorate a choice between Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton.

In Primary Politics, political insider Elaine Kamarck explains how the presidential nomination process became the often baffling system we have today, including the “robot rule.” Her focus is the largely untold story of how presidential candidates since the early 1970s have sought to alter the rules in their favor and how their failures and successes have led to even more change. She describes how candidates have sought to manipulate the sequencing of primaries to their advantage and how Iowa and New Hampshire came to dominate the system. She analyzes the rules that are used to translate votes into delegates, paying special attention to the Democrats' twenty-year fight over proportional representation and some of its arcana.

Drawing on meticulous research, interviews with key figures in both parties, and years of experience, this book explores one of the most important questions in American politics—how we narrow the list of presidential candidates every four years.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780815735281
Publisher: Brookings Institution Press
Publication date: 11/13/2018
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 251
Sales rank: 1,189,564
File size: 7 MB

About the Author

Elaine C. Kamarck is a senior fellow in the Governance Studies program at Brookings and the founding director of the Center for Effective Public Management. She is a public sector scholar with wide experience in government, academia, and politics. Kamarck is an expert on government innovation and reform in the United States, OECD countries, and developing countries. In addition, she focuses her research on the presidential nomination system and American politics and has worked in many American presidential campaigns.

Table of Contents




1. The Good Old Days? When Parties Controlled Nominations and Primaries Were to Be Avoided at All Costs

2. Sequence as Strategy: How Jimmy Carter “Got It” and Taught Subsequent Presidential Candidates the New Rules of the Road

3. The Fight to Be First: Why Iowa and New Hampshire Dominate Presidential Nominating Politics

4. Proportional Representation: Why Democrats Use It and Republicans Don’t

5. Devil in the Details: How the Delegate Count Shapes Modern Nominating Campaigns

6. Do Conventions Matter Anymore? Why No One Could Stop Trump

7. The Loss of Peer Review



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