The 2020 presidential selection process is already underway. As the political parties finalize their nominating rules and the states jostle for an advantageous contest date, potential challengers are being identified and sized up by party insiders. Once again, media and popular attention will be disproportionately focused on the candidates’ performance in the first and earliest of the state nominating contests—and on how quickly the sequence of primaries and caucuses winnows the field and identifies the presumptive nominees. But what are the implications of a sequential and front-loaded nominating calendar that gives some voters outsized influence while leaving many others with a constrained choice—or no choice—in the selection of their party’s presidential nominee?
Reforming the Presidential Nominating Process: Front-Loading's Consequences and the National Primary Solution critiques the contemporary nominating process from the perspective of voters and their right to effectively participate in their parties’ selection of a presidential nominee. Employing both a common-sense and legal, rights-based framework to invite a constitutionally grounded conversation on the legitimacy of the current presidential nominating process, Lisa K. Parshall argues that timing of participation in the nomination goes hand-in-hand with the right to choose a candidate and the fairest way to restore the promise of meaningful and timely participation for all voters is by adopting a same-day national primary.
Viewed from the party membership perspective, this work illuminates the fundamental interests at stake that should be considered in any potential reform of the presidential nominating system.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Myth of Full, Timely, and Equal Participation in the Presidential Nominating Process 1. The Path to the Contemporary Nominating Process 2. The 2008 Nominations: Déjá Vu All Over Again 3. The 2012 Nominations: Reverting to Script 4. The 2016 Nominations: The Same Old Story with Unexpected Twists 5. The Inequalities and Ambiguities of Party Membership 6. Framing a Rights-Based Argument for Party Members’ Rights 7. The National Primary Solution
Lisa K. Parshall is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Daemen College in Amherst, New York, specializing in American Politics, Public Law, and Public Policy. She has served as an officer for the New York State and Northeastern Political Science Associations, as an Advisor for Vote Smart, and is a Richard P. Nathan Public Policy Fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government in Albany, New York (2018–2019).
'Building on work she began with the late Franco Mattei, Lisa K. Parshall provides an excellent critical analysis of the American process for Presidential nominations. This work presents a history of the political development of Presidential nominations, a factual discussion of nomination campaigns since 2008, and a telling critique of our front-loaded system of sequential Presidential primaries. Finally, she offers her endorsement of a national Presidential primary along with a full and fair discussion of arguments for and against that solution. This book is unique for its combination of political and legal analysis, particularly for its focus on a voting rights perspective to argue for democratization of way we nominate candidates for President. This is very useful and engaging reading for students, scholars, journalists and citizens alike.' - Arthur Paulson, Professor Emeritus, Southern Connecticut State University
'For those concerned about the United States' dysfunctional system of choosing presidential candidates, Reforming the Presidential Nominating Process provides considerable food for thought. In a thorough examination of the last three nominating contests, Lisa Parshall shows how the system has broken down, then argues that a national primary would solve many of the problems of the current system, presenting not only the evidence for her position, but also the best arguments of those who disagree.' - Bruce E. Altschuler, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, SUNY Oswego
'Political junkies and scholars of the presidential selection process will find this work to be an enjoyable trip down Memory Lane, informative, and a creative argument to solve our nominating conundrum. Lisa Parshall has written a detailed, lucid account of the history and current state of the process by which our major parties select their candidates for president. She also makes an intriguing argum