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Study Notes

Invisible Primary

AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

An invisible primary, sometimes known as a money primary, is the period of time between a candidate’s declaration or expressed interest in running for an elected office and the start of the primary season.

During the invisible primary, from declaration to the first official primary, candidates will raise money and gather support through grassroots campaigns. It is here that they will seek to create an initial burst of momentum going into the first primary. They will seek also to create an air of inevitability surrounding them, so that the voting population will hopefully get on board behind their candidacy. The idea is to approach the primary with a well stocked campaign war chest which they can utilise throughout the primary process.

Furthermore during this period, Political Action Committees and Super PACs will be more active than candidates official campaigns. It is during this time that they have the most freedom to coordinate with the official campaigns. PACs and Super PACs will typically make up the bulk of the advertising on behalf of their candidates.

To ‘win’ an invisible primary candidates will have typically have raised the most money in their official campaigns, have a sizable PAC and Super PAC contributions behind them and be polling consistently ahead of the rest of the field.

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