Sore Loser Laws in Presidential and Congressional Elections

Routledge Handbook of Primary Elections (2018)

11 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2019

Date Written: February 1, 2018


Sore loser laws – which restrict candidates who lose primaries from running in general elections – are a virtually ubiquitous feature of American politics, but are almost never studied seriously by political scientists or election law scholars. In this chapter, we build on our earlier studies of sore loser laws in two new ways. First, we expand on our findings on the polarizing influence of sore loser laws as applied to congressional and state legislative candidates by looking at the actual incidence of sore loser candidates where they were permitted by law. Second, we survey the state-by-state application of sore loser laws to presidential candidates.

Keywords: sore loser laws, primary elections, polarization, presidential sore loser laws, political parties

Suggested Citation

Kang, Michael S. and Burden, Barry C., Sore Loser Laws in Presidential and Congressional Elections (February 1, 2018). Routledge Handbook of Primary Elections (2018), Available at SSRN:

Michael S. Kang (Contact Author)

Northwestern Pritzker School of Law ( email )

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

Barry C. Burden

University of Wisconsin - Madison ( email )

716 Langdon Street
Madison, WI 53706-1481
United States

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