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“Presidential Primary Turnout 1972–2016.”

Dr. Lonna Atkeson and Dr. Cherie Maestas

Cover of “Presidential Primary Turnout 1972–2016.”

We explore the implications of sequential presidential primary elections for turnout in selecting the presidential party nominees. Drawing from a micro-level theory of participation in sequential elections, we develop a set of aggregate-level hypotheses that tease out different ways that candidate mobilization efforts as well as the legal and institutional structures within a sequential contest influence turnout in presidential nomination contests. Using data from all state primary elections from 1972–2016, we find that electorates facing winnowed candidate pools, and those with contests after the effective endings to presidential contests have substantially reduced turnout that effectively disenfranchises voters in many states. Sequenced primary elections lead to lower overall turnout and less meaningful participation for many voters during presidential nominations contests.

Atkeson, Lonna Rae, and Cherie D. Maestas. 2016. “Presidential Primary Turnout 1972–2016.” PS: Political Science & Politics 49(04): 755–60.