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Early Presidential Primaries, Viability, and Vote Switching in 2008
Unformatted Document Text:  Research on Presidential Primaries Previous research on presidential primaries in the U.S. shows that there are key differences in models explaining voting behavior in primary and general elections, respectively. General election models often include candidate qualities, ideology, issue preferences, and most importantly, partisan identification as explanatory variables in voter decision making (Stone, Rapoport, Abramowitz, 1992). However, unlike general elections, voters in primaries lack partisan—and to a lesser extent ideological—cues in determining their vote, therefore decision making may be more complex. As a result, research on and models explaining presidential primary voting behavior have not necessarily found consistent findings. This is due, in part, to a lack of state-by-state consistency in the nominating process that makes extrapolation challenging. That is, an analysis of the presidential primary process in Washington State may produce entirely different results and models than an analysis in Georgia or New Hampshire. Furthermore, to name a few of the myriad challenges: some states such as Iowa and New Hampshire vote early in the process whereas other states vote several months later, some states have caucuses while others have primaries, participation rates can vary widely by state, rules vary by state, and some candidates drop out as the campaign progresses (Stone, Rapoport, Abramowitz, 1992). The specific studies attempting to explain voting behavior in presidential primaries have generated mixed results. While Wattier (1983) suggested that ideology is an important explanatory variable, many studies demonstrate that voting behavior in primaries is determined primarily by candidate preference (based on either policies or 3

Authors: Barreto, Matt., Collingwood, Loren. and Donovan, Todd.
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Research on Presidential Primaries
Previous research on presidential primaries in the U.S. shows that there are key
differences in models explaining voting behavior in primary and general elections,
respectively. General election models often include candidate qualities, ideology, issue
preferences, and most importantly, partisan identification as explanatory variables in
voter decision making (Stone, Rapoport, Abramowitz, 1992). However, unlike general
elections, voters in primaries lack partisan—and to a lesser extent ideological—cues in
determining their vote, therefore decision making may be more complex.
As a result, research on and models explaining presidential primary voting
behavior have not necessarily found consistent findings. This is due, in part, to a lack of
state-by-state consistency in the nominating process that makes extrapolation
challenging. That is, an analysis of the presidential primary process in Washington State
may produce entirely different results and models than an analysis in Georgia or New
Hampshire. Furthermore, to name a few of the myriad challenges: some states such as
Iowa and New Hampshire vote early in the process whereas other states vote several
months later, some states have caucuses while others have primaries, participation rates
can vary widely by state, rules vary by state, and some candidates drop out as the
campaign progresses (Stone, Rapoport, Abramowitz, 1992).
The specific studies attempting to explain voting behavior in presidential
primaries have generated mixed results. While Wattier (1983) suggested that ideology is
an important explanatory variable, many studies demonstrate that voting behavior in
primaries is determined primarily by candidate preference (based on either policies or
3


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