AUTHOR'S NOTE: For help in assembling the data base on which this article is based, I would like to thank the staff of the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, especially Lois Timms-Ferrara. Thanks also to Andy Baker, Byron Shafer, and Amy Logan for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.
Retrospective Voting in Presidential Primaries
Version of Record online: 5 OCT 2010
© 2010 Center for the Study of the Presidency
Presidential Studies Quarterly
Volume 40, Issue 4, pages 660–685, December 2010
How to Cite
MAYER, W. G. (2010), Retrospective Voting in Presidential Primaries. Presidential Studies Quarterly, 40: 660–685. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-5705.2010.03805.x
- Issue online: 5 OCT 2010
- Version of Record online: 5 OCT 2010
Though retrospective performance evaluations are now widely appreciated as a major influence on voting in general elections, their influence in presidential primaries has rarely been noticed. Using exit polls conducted by major media organizations over the last nine election cycles, this article shows that retrospective voting is an important, indeed dominant, factor in two types of situations: when an incumbent president is running for reelection, and when an incumbent vice president is seeking to become his party's next presidential candidate. This finding, in turn, helps explain two significant institutional features of the contemporary presidential nomination process: why most recent presidents have been renominated without much difficulty, and why the vice presidency has become such a good launching pad for presidential candidacies.