Since 1962, the percentage of eligible voters picking Democratic and Republican nominees for governor and U.S. Senate has been declining to less than 10% per party. The percentages are even lower for U.S. House and state legislature primaries, Gans says.
A ripple effect on national politics is possible. Michael McDonald, a political scientist at George Mason University, believes the partisan nature of most primaries for local office has had an impact. "There's a recruitment chain," McDonald says. "If you're punishing moderates in the farm leagues, they're never going to make it to the big leagues."
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