Narrowing the Field
After potential candidates declare their interest in running for office, each political party determines who receives the party’s nomination. In the early 20th century, political machines largely controlled the nomination process, but as progressive reformers lobbied for greater popular control of the selection process, states began to adopt systems of primary elections. The new primaries shifted the nominating power to the voters.
Many of the cartoons in this section illustrate nomination contests just as progressive reforms had begun to wrest control of the nominating process away from political machines. However, popular primary elections brought more uncertainty about who the nominee would be. The primaries often did not produce a clear winner, so the candidate was not selected until the party’s nominating convention in the summer. Berryman captured many of these events as they unfolded for the first time, yet his insights are relevant to the nominating process today.