When first enacted at the start of the twentieth century, primaries were to decrease the power of party bosses to dominate the choice of who ran for office. Primaries were a feature of the progressive agenda to limit political corruption and democratize party politics. One hundred years later, party organizations remain powerful arbiters of candidate selection. Candidates who aren't backed by the party rarely fare well.
In his new book, The Party's Primary: Control of Congressional Nominations (Cambridge University Press, 2018), Hans Hassell shows the way that parties use their resources to influence primary elections. Through money, staffing, and information, parties retain control over who runs, both in the House and Senate and for Republicans and Democrats. He uses extensive interviews with party leaders and analysis of over 3,000 nomination contests for the House and senate.
Hassell is assistant professor of American politics at Cornell College.