David Broder laments the rush of early primaries in the 2008 election, saying we’ll be deprived of “a steady progression of contests, challenging and whittling the field of contenders…” I have mixed feelings about the new calendar that moves us much closer to a national primary day. On the one hand, having a steady progression of primaries provides the oppourtunity for voters in early states to personally interact with candidates, whereas now we’re looking at a system in which voters in most states will only meet the candidates through TV ads. On the other hand, under the system of staggered primaries, a few states have an outsized influence in choosing the nominee. So, even though a lot of people will miss out on seeing the candidates up close under the uber-Tuesday system, most Americans are already deprived of such an oppourtunity, only now at least they’ll have a vote that actually matters. I do agree with Broder, however, that with the nominees likely decided by the end of February, and the conventions not until late August/early September, we’ll be looking at 6 very boring months in between. Perhaps another option is to move toward a national primary sometime in June. That would give candidates half the year to campaign from coast to coast, and it would contract the time between the nominees being chosen and the conventions. Also, perhaps it would mean the campaign wouldn’t be starting two years in advance, as it has this cycle.
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