Sore Loser Laws in Presidential and Congressional Elections

Authored by: Michael S. Kang , Barry C. Burden

Routledge Handbook of Primary Elections

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

Print ISBN: 9781138684089
eBook ISBN: 9781315544182
Adobe ISBN:


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Sore loser laws – which restrict candidates who lose primaries from running in general elections – are a virtually ubiquitous feature of American politics, but are almost never studied seriously by political scientists or election law scholars. In this chapter, we build on our earlier studies of sore loser laws (Burden, Jones, and Kang 2014; Kang 2011) in two new ways. First, we expand on our findings on the polarizing influence of sore loser laws as applied to congressional and state legislative candidates by looking at the actual incidence of sore loser candidates where they were permitted by law. Second, we survey the state-by-state application of sore loser laws to presidential candidates.

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