Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D. in Political Science

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

John M. Bruce

Second Advisor

Jeffrey Jackson

Third Advisor

Marvin King

Abstract

The way in which political parties in the United States choose to nominate presidential candidates is a dynamic process. States operate with a great deal of autonomy as to when and what type of contest to hold, strategic candidates seek to enter the race at an advantageous time, and voters adjust to the electoral environment presented to them. The movement of statewide contests earlier in the nomination calendar, the shortening time between subsequent contests, and the expedited conclusion that is often reached before the official nominating convention has led to a compression of the nomination contest. This compression of the presidential nomination campaign has altered the dynamic structure that underlies the decisions made by key actors. I utilize compression as a chief independent variable in three empirical analyses, assessing its impact over time to the key actors in a nomination campaign. Using data compiled from FEC candidate filling, I use a robust regression model to demonstrate a correlation between state movement of contests and candidate disbursements in that state. Next I explore the impact of compression on candidate entry into the nomination race using a log-logistical model of duration to test a unique data set of political, environmental and candidate qualities. I demonstrate the viability of these findings in a case study analysis of the 1984 Democratic and 2008 Republican nomination campaigns, before presenting a logit analysis gauging the familiarity with challengers that front-runner supporters demonstrate in those same contests in the final empirical chapter.

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