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Political science prof studies consequences of close primaries

JACKSON, Tenn.Oct. 29, 2002 – With the general election just days away, and the results of the recent West Tennessee political primaries still reverberating in voters’ minds, Sean Evans, assistant professor of political science at Union University, is posing a question: if the primary is more competitive, is it more difficult for that primary’s winner to regroup his or her party to win?

“People thought that Ed Bryant and Lamar Alexander ran such a competitive campaign that it would be difficult for Bryant’s people to switch over and support the Alexander camp in the race against Clement,” explained Evans, using the Bryant-Alexander Republican primary as an example.

Following the primary in August, Evans’ sent out surveys to political activists in various state house and state senate races including the governor’s race. He will re-survey them following the November election to see how their attitudes and behaviors have changed.

“What I am really interested in is seeing whether supporters of losing primary candidates work for the primary winner, work for another candidate of the same party, work for the general election opponent or drop out of politics altogether,” said Evans.

Through interviews with state legislative candidates, Evans’ has learned how the candidates handled the divisive primary, the methods and theories with which they ran their campaigns and discovered some divisions particularly within the Republican Party.

Results of his research will be announced in December.

Media contact: Sara B. Horn, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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