Is there a Link Between Primary Competition and General Election Results?

Authored by: Robert G. Boatright , Vincent G. Moscardelli

Routledge Handbook of Primary Elections

Print publication date:  February  2018
Online publication date:  February  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138684089
eBook ISBN: 9781315544182
Adobe ISBN:


 Download Chapter



In recent years, discussion of primary elections, and in particular congressional primary elections, has frequently focused upon the potential for ideologically extreme factions within the parties to influence the selection of nominees. In particular, analyses of the 2010, 2012, and 2014 elections have alleged that the Republican backlash against President Obama’s agenda was felt both in general election opposition to Democrats and in efforts to “primary” Republicans who had supported various aspects of this agenda. There is, then, the possibility that general election surges might be accompanied by increased unrest in the primaries as well, but there is no established theory of patterns in congressional primary election competition over time. Our understanding of congressional general election competition has for decades been shaped by theories regarding partisan seat swing. Indeed, one could argue that the decisions of candidates and party leaders themselves rest on a small set of regular patterns – presidential coattails, midterm backlashes against the incumbent president, “waves” of party support, and so forth. In this chapter we explore the relationship between such general election voting patterns and competition in congressional primaries.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.