Reforming the Presidential Nomination Process

Since the creation in the 1970s of the modern, primary-election dominated process for nominating presidential candidates, there has been little scholarly or public commentary devoted to large-scale re-assessments of that system or consideration of major structural changes to it.

Discrete issues within this system have, of course, received attention, such as what the appropriate sequencing of primaries in various states ought to be, or whether open rather than closed primaries should be used.  Recently, however, NYU hosted the first major reconsideration of the populist turn in the 1970s to the primary-dominated system, a bipartisan process that included leading party figures experienced in the presidential nomination process, along with academic scholars.  That process produced many provocative and intriguing suggestions for reform, such as re-instating the two-thirds requirement for nomination; limiting primary contests to two candidates, chosen by national conventions that come before the primaries; introducing a role for ranked-choice voting; restoring a greater role for party figures within the convention voting process, and other ideas.

The papers will be published next year as a Symposium on the Presidential Nomination Process in the NYU Law Review.  An online video of the presentations is now available here, which also features a keynote address by former Senator and candidate for the Democratic nomination in 2000, Bill Bradley.

A list of the program is below.  My own paper, which I have blogged about before here, is posted on SSRN here.


Panel One – A Historical and Comparative Look at Nominations Systems


Benjamin Ginsberg, Partner, Jones Day

Paper Presenters:

John Frederick Martin, Partner, Bancroft Private Equity

Richard Pildes, Sudler Family Professor of Constitutional Law, NYU School of Law

Panel Two – The 2016 Experience: Rules, Parties, and the Media


Beth Myers, Co-Founder, Esplanade Strategies

Paper Presenters:

Bob Bauer, Professor of Practice and Distinguished Scholar in Residence, NYU School of Law

William Mayer, Professor of Political Science, Northeastern University

Panel Three – Thinking About Reform


Donna F. Edwards, former U.S. Representative, Maryland’s 4th Congressional District (2008-2017)

Paper Presenters:

Elaine Kamarck, Director of the Center for Effective Public Management, The Brookings Institution

Bruce Cain, Professor of Political Science, Stanford University

Keynote Address

Bill Bradley, former US Senator for NJ (1979-1997) and candidate for the Democratic nomination for President (2000).


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