Author (Your Name)

Cassidy HolzerFollow

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Government Dept.


L. Sandy Maisel

Second Advisor

Nicholas Jacobs


Abstract: The 2016 election posed a series of interesting questions about outsider candidates: Who are they? Why do they run? How do they affect the party? What party mechanisms either foster or hinder outsiders? To answer these questions, I look at every election after 1968-- the year the McGovern-Fraser reforms flipped the Democratic nomination system on its head. I classify every competitive candidate in every post-1968 election as an outsider, an establishment-like, or an establishment candidate, evaluating their political experience and reliance on small-donors. I find that Iowa and New Hampshire serve a pivotal point for all candidates, encouraging a retail-politics campaign strategy. The two states are unrepresentative of the United States, and therefore their stronghold over the nomination system is undemocratic. Furthermore, I find that in the post-reform era, there are more outsider candidates, and they are increasingly competitive with establishment candidates. The research suggests that the longer an outsider remains competitive, the more likely they are to become a sore loser.


Presidential Nominations, Democratic Nominations, Outsiders, Establishment, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders