Early primaries

Frank DiTaglia writes,

Do you know of any research into the influence of early primaries? I’ve been wondering about the extent to which bandwagon effects give the first few primaries undue weight, but it seems like a relatively difficult problem to study. Any thoughts?

My reply: I agree that this is a difficult problem to study. I think, like most people, that early primaries are more influential because of the winnowing process as the number of candidates get reduced. There’s “bandwagon” (which I interpret as voters supporting a candidate because they hear good things about the candidate, or even because the fact that the candidate gets support indicates that he or she has something good to offer. And then there’s “electability” and there’s “strategic voting” (or, as the say in England, “tactical voting”) which is related but slightly different. I expect there’s lots of research on these topics.