What Is, and What Is Not, a Primary Election?

Authored by: Alan Ware

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



Like many political concepts, the idea of a “primary election” has changed over time. As with both “liberal” and “conservative,” for instance, the transformation has been so great that a time traveler from the nineteenth century might struggle to comprehend its usage in some contexts today. Equally important, it has now become more open-ended in its application than in the earlier period, when its meaning was quite specific. The aim of this chapter is to explain how and why different meanings of the term “primary” or “primary election” developed over time, both within the United States and, much later, in other democracies. Unlike some American inventions, such as basketball, the original American model was subject to further modification once it was “imported” by other countries. However, and arguably more important, many changes had occurred within the United States itself before the use of primaries elsewhere. For that reason, the initial discussion here is exclusively about the U.S.

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.