The DNC Knows Not What It Seeks To Do

The battle over changing the presidential primary/caucus schedule is heating up.

While I'd certainly like to see New Hampshire retain its 'first in the nation' primary status, the path that the Democratic National Committee is leading us down is fraught with peril, something I've mentioned before.

The big problem with advancing the schedule as the DNC has proposed is that heavy front-loading of the schedule will actually hurt some of the candidates running for the nomination of their party. Only those candidates with deep pockets will be able even to consider a run for the presidency because with such a heavy schedule much of the one-on-one campaigning will cease because of the limited time that will be available. This will be a bad thing for the American electorate. However, not everyone agrees.

In comments to a post I linked over at Outside The Beltway, one commenter thought it would be a good idea in order to wrest selection of the nominees away from the “rich, white, New England liberals .”

My comment to the post that elicited such a response:

If the RNC is smart, they will distance themselves as much as possible from the DNC’s plan to front-load the schedule, even if it means running on an entirely different schedule.

The American voters don’t want a campaign of nothing but sound bites and campaign ads. They want to press the flesh with the candidates, one on one. With such a heavy schedule that won’t be possible. It also means those candidates with less than bulging campaign war chests but better ideas and messages won’t be heard, and that’s bad for everyone.

I have to agree with Brian that the campaign is already too damn long. The DNC wants to make it even more insufferable.

“Michael” responded with:

The DNC’s move isn’t intended to start the election season earlier. Once of the major complaints among democratic primary voters last year was that by the time Iowa and New Hampshire were done, the candidate was already chosen. It was after NH, I believe, that Dean made his famous “scream” speech which made all subsequent elections between Kerry and Edwards. The complaint was that rich, white, New England liberals were deciding the nominee.

The major change being made is to add in states from other demographics early in the election cycle, so that a broader base of the Democratic party has a say before all the other nominees drop out. Nevada will hold a caucus before New Hampshire’s primary, and after Iowa’s caucus, with South Carolina’s primary just days after Iowa. This will get at least some representation from the west and south in the early stages of choosing a Democratic nominee.

Keep in mind this is only for the Presidential nomination, so this won’t effect senate or house races. This will have little to no effect on the length of the campaign season, or the amount of political advertisements you see.

The very last statement in Michael's response is one I disagree with wholeheartedly. With less face to face campaigning the only alternative will be more political advertising, not less. My response to Michael:

That may not be the DNC’s intent, but it might be the result.

I don’t know about you, but by bunching up a number of primaries and holding most of them during the first four months of the year, I find that the campaign season stretches out forever. It also forces all of the candidates to go into “Turbo” mode, campaigning in multiple states simultaneously. This might be fine for after the conventions when each party has chosen its nominee, but not during primary season.

The perception that “by the time Iowa and New Hampshire were done, the candidate was already chosen” is just that, a perception. But it wasn’t so. It was still very much up in the air at that time and there were still lots of primaries and caucuses to go.

Changing the rules because of a mistaken impression isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But if the rule changes are only going to make it worse, then why change them?

Frankly, I don’t care who goes first. But I do mind that the push to make the same mistake as 2004, but only worse the next time, is a damn foolish thing to do. It’s only going to piss off more voters and make the campaign season seem even more interminable.

While the length of the campaign season may not be any longer this time, you can bet the farm that it probably will during the 2012 campaign. It's already too long, and with the front-loading and the following 'lull', the American people will be pretty damn bored with the whole thing by the time the party conventions are held. That was the case during the 2004 campaign.

When Election Day finally rolled around in November 2004, the response was one of relief - “Thank god it's here! Let's vote and bring all of this crap to an end!”

That's not the frame of mind we want in the American electorate. So why is the DNC trying so hard to bring it about?

Maybe hubris?

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