Presidential Primaries

January 14, 1948

Report Outline
Primaries in the 1948 Presidential Race
Rise and Decline of Presidential Primary
Primaries and the Selection of Nominees
Special Focus

Primaries in the 1948 Presidential Race

Centering of Attention on Republican Primaries

Primary elections and presidential preference votes, scheduled during the spring in more than a dozen states, will step up activity in the political campaign of 1948 and afford the first official tests of popular sentiment toward various condidates for the nation's highest office. Because it is taken for granted that President Truman will be his party's standard bearer, interest in the Democratic primaries will be limited to the size of the preference vote polled in states where the President's name appears on the ballot. On the Republican side, however, the presidential primaries will be closely watched for indications of the standing with the voters of the several contenders for that party's nomination.

In two-thirds of the states delegates to the national conventions are chosen by party conventions. Delegates directly elected by primary vote are not sufficiently numerous, even if united for one candidate, to control the national convention's choice of a nominee. Twenty years ago delegates from primary states were in the majority in national conventions, but the presidential primary system never brought about in practice anything approaching direct nomination of candidates for the presidency. However, the primaries, even though restricted to a relatively small number of states, sometimes exert an influence on the course of presidential contests.

The fact that presidential primaries may have little, or no, effect on the final selection of nominees does not diminish public interest in the voting results. During the pre-convention period, public and politicians alike eagerly scan the political horizon for signs of the relative progress of rival candidates. Although all candidates are not entered in all primaries, a victory here or a defeat there provides material for a mounting volume of political speculation as convention time draws near. In that respect, 1948 will be no different from other presidential years. From early March, when New Hampshire opens the primary season, to June 1, when California, New Jersey, and South Dakota close it, the outcome of state contests will feed conjecture as to whom the Republican national convention at length will choose to challenge President Truman in the general election.

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Jun. 19, 1939  Selection of Nominees for the Presidency
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Mar. 11, 1936  Voting in Presidential Elections
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May 05, 1928  National Nominating Conventions
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