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The American Direct Primary
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  • 14 tables
  • Page extent: 288 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.59 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 324.273/0154
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: JK2071 .W37 2002
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Primaries--United States--History
    • Political parties--United States--History
    • United States--Politics and government

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521814928 | ISBN-10: 0521814928)

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$113.00 (C)

This is the first major study of the origins of direct primary elections in the U.S. since the 1920s. It rejects the widely held view that primaries resulted from a conflict between anti-party reformers and so-called party "regulars." Instead, it shows that the direct primary was the result of an attempt, starting in the late 1880s, by mainstream party politicians to subject their previously informal procedures to formal rules. Politicians turned to the direct primary because it proved impossible to make effective changes to the caucus-convention system of nominating candidates.


1. Introduction; Part I. How the Direct Primary Arose: 2. The catalytic effect of ballot reform; 3. Legal control of party activity; 4. The spread of direct nominations; Part II. Why the Direct Primary was Introduced: 5. Reformers versus urban machines?; 6. The impact of party competition; 7. Explaining an 'irrational' reform; Part III. What Happened Next?: 8. Reaction and aftermath.

Prize Winner

CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title 2003


"...a very important book...a nuanced, informative study that should be read by all those interested in American political parties, American political development, the Progressive era, and comparative parties." Political Science Quarterly

"A must-read for those interested in American parties and elections. Essential." Choice

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