Party Elites and Divisive Politics

Party elites, contrary to popular belief, greatly manipulate the presidential nomination process and streamline who Americans can vote for, yet this unwanted influence should be disconcerting for everyday Americans. Although legislation passed in the 1970s sought to curb these individuals’ power, “party elites have regained a large measure of control in presidential nominations.” (Cohen et. al, 36) Few notice the invisible primary where elites influence the nomination process and are able to push voters towards a particular candidate through endorsements .

Given that we know about this furtive process, we need to understand how this influence shapes the candidates who Americans vote for in November. Party elites, many of whom have held office at some federal level, are ideologically more extreme than voters who tend to be moderate, and these individuals select nominees who hold similar views (Polsby et. al, 122). The government serves to represent the people, not a few elite individuals, but Americans are not offered the chance to nominate a moderate candidate because of this system. Politics have become more polarizing as both the Democratic and Republican parties further separate from the ideological center, and perhaps party elites’ ability to choose the candidates before actual primaries have even started has led to this widening political divide (Crowder-Meyer, September 15, 2016).


3 thoughts on “Party Elites and Divisive Politics”

  1. This is a really interesting perspective! What do you think about the possibility that party elites, with an eye to the general election, might seek to support less extreme candidates than primary voters?


    1. Perhaps, however I believe some stubborn party elites will stick with their “extreme” values and support these candidates. This reminds me of the article for the last discussion day ( and how the number of moderate Republicans, such as Senator Lunger, in the Senate has decreased. It seems that politics, now more than ever, is divisive, and few party elites would be willing to accept a moderate.


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