Choosing the Presidential Nominees
When the republic began, prospective presidential candidates needed to impress their colleagues in Congress, because presidential nominees were chosen by the congressional party caucuses. The selection was usually done in a series of party-controlled meetings, called caucuses, held first at the local level and then in statewide conventions. The results dramatically transformed the process by which the Democrats select their presidential nominees. Many state legislatures responded to the new Democratic rules by changing state election laws to require primary elections in both parties. Each state's party organization decides how and when its voters will select their delegates to the national nominating conventions, within limits set by the national party. The party organizations' interests in the nominating process are not necessarily the same as those of the presidential candidates. State and local parties want a nominee who will bring voters to the polls to support the party's candidates for state and local offices.