Since 1948, there has been a marked revival of interest in the presidential primary. In all probability this has come about because of the cleavage between the bulk of the regular Republican leadership, most of whom favored Taft, and the rank and file of the Republican party, who, together with many independent voters, favored Eisenhower. Concurrently, in the Democratic party there was in 1952 a “free convention” for the first time since 1932. As a result, there was revived interest in the presidential primary, and in the system of selecting delegates to the national nominating conventions, during the preconvention campaigns of 1952. Since the untimely heart attack suffered by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1955, interest in the nominating process for the presidential candidates of the major parties is again at a high point. This article, after reviewing briefly recent developments with respect to presidential primaries, discusses in some detail the legislation enacted in 1955 by the state of Florida.
During the period of the 1952 contest, interest in the presidential primary was expressed in four ways. In the first place, Eisenhower's decisive show of strength in primary contests in New Hampshire, Minnesota, and New Jersey drew public attention to the contrast between the preference primary and the methods of delegate selection in other states. Texas is a prime example of the manipulations that characterized the worst use of the convention system.