Public Media for Central Pennsylvania
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Democracy Works: Primaries, Parties, And Gatekeepers

David Karol
University of Maryland

The 2020 primary season officially begins today with the Iowa caucus, followed by the New Hampshire primary on February 11 and the South Carolina and Nevada primaries at the end of the month.

It's easy to forget that the primaries have not looked like they do now. In fact, it was not until 1968 that things really began to morph in to the system of state-by-state elections that we know today. Before that, nominees were largely chosen by party leaders in preverbal smoke-filled back rooms.

While the parties once ruled the primary process, they seem to have lost much of that control, particularly in recent years. Donald Trump, a candidate the Republican Party opposed for much of his candidacy, received the nomination in 2016. Bernie Sanders is at the top of the Democratic candidate field, even though he does not align with the party's positions.

David Karol is an associate professor in the Department of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland. He is an expert on primaries and the role that the political parties play in them and join us this week to help make sense of how we got here and where things might go moving forward.

Jenna Spinelle is the Communications Specialist for the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State. She is responsible for shaping all of the institute's external communication, including website content, social media, multimedia, and media outreach.