Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Shortening the horse race

Larry Sabato explains why we should blame Jimmy Carter and Florida for our long campaigning schedule. And he ends up about where I am on this - if this is worth changing, the parties can't do it. Some sort of federal law or a constitutional amendment are necessary, but unlikely.
A statute or constitutional amendment establishing a system of March-to-June regional primaries—with rotating order so that every state gets to be part of the first group every fourth election—would help. Even better, why not have the order of the regionals determined by lottery on New Year's Day of the election year, so that candidates wouldn't know until then where to begin their ground efforts? That would shorten the campaign season.

Of course, this reform is likely to be enacted on the 12th of never. Until then, we'll just have to content ourselves with a crazy-quilt, eternal campaign—an electoral purgatory of our own creation.
I'm not quite sure why such a law is so unlikely. States other than Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, and probably Florida would have an incentive to have a standardized schedule that gives them an opportunity go first. This isn't a crucial issue for Congress, but it is something that they could work together on in a bipartisan basis and, at least, defy the perception that there is nothing that they can do together.