Using U.S. Presidential Primary Elections in Electoral Geography Research

Authors: Matthew Balentine*, University of North Carolina - Greensboro
Topics: Political Geography, Quantitative Methods
Keywords: Electoral geography, primary elections, factor analysis
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Virginia B, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Electoral geographers have dedicated little scholarly work to the study of primary elections with limited but notable exceptions coming in the form of guest editorials, book chapters, and atlas chapters. The impetus for the paper stems partially from the inability of general election analysis to provide much understanding of the 2016 contest. For instance, the 2016 presidential election campaign and results is considered a historical aberration on many accounts, but recent spatio-temporal analyses do not distinguish it from others within the most recent electoral epoch. This is the first paper in a wider project to explore how traditional methods of electoral geography may be applied to analyze primary elections. The purpose of this paper is to compare the spatial and temporal patterns derived from primary data to those found in existing literature concerned with general election results. Factor analytic techniques are applied to state level Republican proportions in general election and primary election returns, and the results are compared to identify deviations in trends. Special scrutiny is given to the 2016 election to determine if the uniqueness that eludes general election research is captured by analyzing its primaries.

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