Choosing Presidential Nominees

February 3, 1984

Report Outline
Demand for Change
Effects of Reform
Rules Rolled Back
Special Focus

Demand for Change

Party Control or Mass Participation

The Jan. 10 Republican precinct caucuses in Michigan and the Feb. 20 Democratic precinct caucuses in Iowa mark the official beginning of the process to select delegates to the parties' national presidential nominating conventions this summer. President Reagan, who announced Jan. 29 that he would seek re-election, is unlikely to have any serious Republican challenger at the GOP convention Aug. 20–23 in Dallas. For the Democrats it is a different story. Eight candidates are actively seeking the presidential nomination. The big question for them is whether former Vice President Walter F. Mondale, the acknowledged front-runner, will be able to sew up the nomination before the Democratic National Convention begins July 16 in San Francisco.

To the casual observer, the nominating process will appear to be much like that in recent years. A party-prescribed number of delegates and alternates to the national conventions will be selected in each state either through party primaries or in precinct and state caucuses. The GOP events are likely to be calm affairs. Reagan is not expected to mount an active primary campaign; instead his organizers will work quietly to ensure that the delegates chosen will endorse his renomination. The Democratic candidates, on the other hand, will be rushing from primary campaign to precinct caucus to win delegates in what some have described as an exhausting, “crazy quilt” system.

The Democrats will not only be working in a crowded field; they will be working fast. Noting the heavy publicity advantage enjoyed by states holding early events, several states have moved their primaries or caucuses up to the beginning of the campaign season. According to some analysts, the schedule is now so “front-loaded” that a strong candidate could wrap up the nomination by the third week in March.

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