Congressional Primaries

I have written three books on congressional primary elections, and edited another. 

Cover for 

Reform and Retrenchment

My most recent book on primary elections, Reform and Retrenchment:  A Century of Efforts to Fix Primary Elections, was published by Oxford University Press.  It is a comprehensive history of efforts to change primary election laws from the 1920s to the 1970s, and an effort to connect the history of primary election reforms to contemporary efforts to open primaries or establish alternate voting systems in primaries.  You can listen to podcasts where I discuss the book here and here.


Cover of Getting Primaried - The Changing Politics of Congressional Primary Challenges

My first book on primaries, Getting Primaried:  The Changing Politics of Congressional Primary Challenges, was published by the University of Michigan Press in the spring of 2013.  In the book I argue against the conventional wisdom that primary challenges to incumbent members of Congress are on the rise.  I show that Primary challenges are not becoming more frequent, nor are they more likely to succeed than in the past.  The most successful of today‚Äôs primary challengers have, however, been able to nationalize their races, drawing upon national fundraising base of ideologically motivated citizens and internet-based interest groups.


I’m also the author of Congressional Primary Elections, a historical account of congressional primaries and the literature on them, published in 2014, and designed for classroom use.  And I’m the editor of the  Handbook of Primary Elections, published by Routledge in 2018.  The book’s 27 chapters include discussions of primary election voting and outcomes, the history of primary elections, presidential primaries, the use of primaries in other countries, and evaluations of primary election reforms.

Routledge Handbook of Primary Elections (Hardback) book coverCongressional Primary Elections book cover

Here is a sampling of the media coverage of Getting Primaried:

Watch my presentation on this material on C-SPAN, October 2009

Watch my presentation on this material at the Brookings Institution, November 2013

National Journal‘s list of the best books of 2013

Op ed for Politico, March 2014

An interview with me in the Washington Post, June 2014 (discussing Eric Cantor’s primary defeat)

And another piece for the Washington Post, August 2014, on Republican Senate primaries

Op-ed for Talking Points Memo, July 2014

Symposium for the Scholars Strategy Network on the future of the Republican Party, July 2014

Interview with, July 2014