Before the Convention: Strategies and Choices in Presidential Nomination Campaigns
Campaigns to win the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations are longer, more complex, and more confusing to the observer than the general election itself. The maze of delegate-selection procedures includes state primaries and caucuses as well as the traditional "smoke-filled room." Complicated federal election laws govern campaign financing. Sometimes many candidates enter and drop out of the race, while sometimes a stable two-way contest occurs: the 1976 nomination campaigns of Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford exemplified each extreme. Is it possible to propose general principles to explain the apparent chaos of our presidential nomination system? Can those principles account for two such starkly different campaigns as occurred in 1976? In Before the Convention, political scientist John H. Aldrich presents a systematic analysis of presidential nomination politics, based on application of rational-choice models to candidate behavior. Aldrich views the candidates as decision makers with limited resources in a highly competitive environment. From this perspective, he seeks to determine why and how candidates choose to run, why some succeed and others fail, and what consequences the nomination process has for the general election and, later, for the President in office.
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2 Who Runs for the Presidency and Why
3 The Institutional Context and Campaign Resources
4 The Citizens Participation and Choices in the Nomination Campaigns
5 Some Dynamics of Campaigns
6 Where Candidates Compete