History Matters Series Focuses on American Political Primaries

On the eve of the New Hampshire primary, undergraduate students and a panel composed of Wesleyan faculty gathered in the Public Affairs Center for a discussion on the history of American political primaries. The event, “Primary Lessons,” was a part of the History Matters Series sponsored by the History Department.

On the eve of the New Hampshire primary, Feb. 9, undergraduate students and a panel composed of Wesleyan faculty gathered in the Public Affairs Center for a discussion on the history of American political primaries. The event, “Primary Lessons,” was a part of the History Matters Series sponsored by the History Department.

In his comments, Professor of History Ronald Schatz delved into the history of American political primaries. Beginning just after the Civil War, he covered several pivotal moments of the 19th and 20th century that shaped this fundamental component of the American electoral process.

In his comments, Professor of History Ronald Schatz delved into the history of American political primaries. Beginning just after the Civil War, he covered several pivotal moments of the 19th and 20th century that shaped this fundamental component of the American electoral process.

Visiting Professor of Government Sam Rosenfeld explored the consequences of ideological polarization among political parties on contemporary primaries. Citing the campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, Rosenfeld explained how recent candidates have appealed more to their party's ideological base rather than to swing voters.

Visiting Professor of Government Sam Rosenfeld explored the consequences of ideological polarization among political parties on contemporary primaries. Citing the campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, Rosenfeld explained how recent candidates have appealed more to their party’s ideological base rather than to swing voters.

Afterwards, students posed a variety of questions to the panelists.Afterwards, students posed a variety of questions to the panelists.

The panelists welcomed questions from the audience.

Students introduced topics such as the legitimacy of the Iowa caucus, the origins and effects of super-delegates, and the campaign prospects of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Student introduced topics such as the legitimacy of the Iowa caucus, the origins and effects of super-delegates, and the campaign prospects of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. (Photos by Rebecca Goldfarb Terry ’19)