Proposed Reforms of Presidential Nominating Methods

July 2, 1924

Report Outline
Criticism of the Convention System
Proposed Reforms
Conventions as Platform Makers


Twelve years ago, as a result of the rejection of Roosevelt's candidacy by the administration controlled convention at Chicago and the elimination of Champ Clark after he had secured a majority. of the votes at Baltimore, widespread dissatisfaction with the convention method of nominating candidates for the presidency developed throughout the country. The presidential primary system, which various states had recently sought to graft upon the convention system, was called a “farce” and it was widely asserted that “the people of the United States have as much influence in selecting the president as the British have in choosing a crown prince.”

Due to the current criticism and distrust, many observers believed in 1912 that the country had seen its last old-fashioned political convention. President Wilson's recommendation in his first annual message that national conventions be radically reorganized and cease entirely to function as nominating bodies was welcomed by many voters who had lost confidence in the representative character and responsiveness of national conventions.

Distrust of congressional caucuses as nominating bodies during the first quarter of the last century led to the dethronement of “King Caucus” after 1824 and the substitution of national conventions. One of the principal objections brought against congressional caucuses was that the legislative branch, having arrogated to itself the power of conferring office, would come to dominate the whole government, thus upsetting the constitutional system of checks and balances. The same objection is sometimes made to national conventions when they are dominated by congressional or senatorial cliques.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Presidential Candidates and Campaigns
Jan. 15, 2021  The Biden Presidency Updated
Jan. 31, 2020  Presidential Primaries
Nov. 16, 2018  The Presidency
Jan. 06, 2017  Trump Presidency
Mar. 06, 2015  Presidential Power
Feb. 03, 2012  Presidential Election
Jan. 30, 2009  The Obama Presidency
Aug. 08, 2008  Political Conventions
Jul. 18, 2008  Race and Politics
Apr. 20, 2007  Electing the President
Dec. 30, 1988  Promises vs. Problems
Jul. 10, 1987  Presidential Nomination Process
Feb. 03, 1984  Choosing Presidential Nominees
Jun. 06, 1980  Choosing Presidential Candidates
Apr. 09, 1976  Presidential Campaign Coverage
Feb. 23, 1972  Political Conventions
May 27, 1964  Foreign Policy Issues in Election Campaigns
Sep. 21, 1960  Voting in 1960
Jan. 06, 1960  Presidential Primaries, 1960
Jan. 04, 1956  Campaign Smearing
Nov. 30, 1955  Presidential Possibilities, 1956
May 09, 1952  Open Conventions
Jan. 16, 1952  Presidential Primaries, 1952
Oct. 12, 1949  Modernization of the Presidential Election
Jan. 14, 1948  Presidential Primaries
May 01, 1944  Foreign Policy in National Elections
Jan. 01, 1944  Choice of Candidates for the Presidency
Apr. 08, 1940  Republican Candidates for the Presidency, 1940
Apr. 01, 1940  Democratic Candidates for the Presidency, 1940
Jun. 19, 1939  Selection of Nominees for the Presidency
Aug. 19, 1938  Nomination by Primary
Mar. 11, 1936  Voting in Presidential Elections
Feb. 18, 1936  Presidential Candidates, 1936
Mar. 03, 1932  Decline of the Presidential Primary
Aug. 25, 1931  Presidential Candidates, 1932
May 05, 1928  National Nominating Conventions
Sep. 03, 1927  Presidential Candidates—1928
Jun. 14, 1927  Patronage Influence in Nominating Conventions
Sep. 11, 1926  The Future of the Direct Primary
Jul. 02, 1924  Proposed Reforms of Presidential Nominating Methods
Jun. 04, 1924  The Machinery of the Political Conventions
Mar. 15, 1924  Presidential Candidates and the Issues
Sep. 05, 1923  The Passing of the Second Term
Campaigns and Elections