The Journal of Politics

Research Notes

Measuring the Consequences of Delegate Selection Rules in Presidential Nominations

Stephen Ansolabeherea1 and Gary Kinga2

a1 University of California, Los Angeles

a2 Harvard University

In this paper, we formalize existing normative criteria used to judge presidential selection contests by modeling the translation of citizen votes in primaries and caucuses into delegates to the national party conventions. We use a statistical model that enables us to separate the form of electoral responsiveness in presidential selection systems, as well as the degree of bias toward each of the candidates. We find that (1) the Republican nomination system is more responsive to changes in citizen votes than the Democratic system; (2) non-PR primaries are always more responsive than PR primaries; (3) surprisingly, caucuses are more proportional than even primaries held under PR rules; (4) significant bias in favor of a candidate was a good prediction of the winner of the nomination contest. We also (5) evaluate the claims of Ronald Reagan in 1976 and Jesse Jackson in 1988 that the selection systems were substantially biased against their candidates. We find no evidence to support Reagan's claim, but substantial evidence that Jackson was correct.

(Accepted January 23 1989)

(Received September 10 1989)

Stephen Ansolabehere is assistant professor of political science, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90024-1472.

Gary King is professor of government, Department of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138.