Party animal : the front-runner in the presidential invisible primary
Jackson, Joseph Christopher
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The presidential invisible primary has become an increasingly important battleground since the electoral reforms of the 1970s. In the invisible primary, one candidate will usually begin to dominate all the others. This candidate, referred to as the front-runner, almost always wins the subsequent primary elections and the party presidential nomination. This paper seeks to explain how a particular candidate becomes the front runner during the invisible primary. It does this through the use of voter polls, electoral records, and fundraising record from 1980 to 2000. It demonstrates that front-runners develop an early lead based on positive name recognition. The front-runner can then use that early lead to demonstrate the electability that party voters desire in a candidate. In the rare case that there is no front-runner, other factors determine who wins the invisible primary. Particularly influential is fundraising ability and electoral prospects in the first primary in New Hampshire.