Honors College

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date



Frustration over the undemocratic nature of the 1968 Democratic Party presidential nominating contest set forth a reform movement that forever changed the Democratic Party and America’s political system. The resulting Committee on Party Structure and Delegate Selection (better known as the McGovern-Fraser Commission), at the direction of the 1968 convention, opened the Democratic Party to those outside of the Democratic establishment. The next 14 years would see a struggle between the Democratic Party establishment and “outsiders” over who would control the Democratic Party and its nominating process.

This study examines the four major Democratic Party nominating process reform commissions over the 1970s and 1980s (McGovern-Fraser, Mikulski, Winograd, and Hunt) and whether or not each commission responded proportionately to perceived challenges from preceding election cycles. Additionally, this document provides analysis through the lens of the most recent Democratic Party nominating contest to prove that despite a strong role for the Democratic Party establishment, the current nominating system does not conflict with the original goals of Democratic Party reformers.