chapter  9
19 Pages

How Parties Choose Candidates

In most democratic nations, party leaders or the party in government select their party's candidates. The extensive use of primaries has changed the American parties' relationships with their candidates. It limits party organizations' ability to hold elected officials accountable. For the first 110 years of the American republic, candidates for office were nominated by party caucuses and later by party conventions. The Progressives argued that voters should be able to directly select their party's candidates for each office; party leaders should not have that power. And in a few states, Democratic and Republican candidates for state and local offices all run on the same primary ballot, so a voter can select some candidates of each party. The names of candidates from all parties appear on a single ballot in the primary, just as they do in the general election, so that in contrast to an open primary, a voter can choose a Democrat for one office and Republican for another.