Redefining the Third Face of Parties: Multiple Donor Networks in the Invisible Primary Stage of Presidential Nomination Campaigns, 2003-2011
29 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2012 Last revised: 31 Aug 2012
Date Written: August 2012
While a number of attempts have been made to document the relative importance of different elements within political parties in the presidential nomination process (Cohen et al. 2008; Dowdle et al. 2009), the role of party activists has been difficult to track. As a first attempt in measuring their patterns of support, we examine the role of individual donors who contribute to multiple candidates during the pre-primary stages of the presidential nomination process. These multiple donors can be examined using network analysis and principles of social network analysis (SNA), with the candidates as nodes and the number of shared donors as relational ties. These multiple donors represent brokers in the SNA literature and should prove as useful proxies to the various camps of support in the nomination process.
In examining the multiple donor networks of the nomination for all candidates in the Democratic nomination of 2004, both parties in 2008 and the Republicans in 2012, a considerable amount knowledge can be gained both in terms of the state of the party going into an election year as well as predictions of how the nomination and general elections will play out in the upcoming months from these multiple donors. In using this technique, the eventual nominee for the major parties is revealed in three of the four cases from data of the year preceding the general election. Additionally, the unification process of the party can be revealed and the relative strength of each party can be discussed for the general election that follows.
Keywords: Social networks, presidential nominations, political parties
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