The invisible primary is the contest before the presidential primaries start. It consists of potential or declared candidates visiting early primary states, talking, occasionally staking out positions, occasionally attacking one another, wooing donors, and most of all wooing the important party players who have influence on swathes of voters, usually within one state.
I've learned a lot about the Republican invisible primary, but not so much about the Democratic version. Maybe in 2020 it will be in play, but 2016 isn't looking too likely.
Here are links to some of good posts on the invisible primary. If you don't know this concept yet, you have a wonderful learning experience in store:
- Bernstein on watching the developing party agenda.
- Long but great article about the GOP invisible primary. Very readable.
- How someone decides to jump in.
- Related to Rand Paul.