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McCain: Front-loaded primary schedule is "bizarre"

by Jack Santucci // Published June 19, 2007
Via New York's WNBC:

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Republican presidential candidate John McCain said Tuesday that Florida's decision to move up its 2008 primary to Jan. 29 was part of a strange national trend that gives voters little time to pick the best candidate for their party.

"We are now going to choose the nominees of our parties either in late January or in early February and our conventions are in August and September. That's a little bizarre," McCain said on the first stop of his two-day Florida fundraising sweep.

"In principle, this process should be drawn out a lot longer so people have a better chance to examine the candidates," McCain said, noting it also hurts candidates who do not take an early lead in primary races. "There is no way of coming back now if it's all the first week in February or even the last week in January."

Sen. McCain probably will not be alone in this sentiment. While the front-runners may not mind so much, front-loading can seem a problem to candidates wanting further "examination" by voters.

One bizarre consequence of one of the most front-loaded presidential primaries in history actually could be wider enfranchisement. Before, there were New Hampshire, Iowa and Super Tuesday - and those voters mattered more than everyone else. Super-duper Tuesday (or however it comes to be known) augurs the relevance of a bigger slice of the electorate.

It also augurs an even-more-drawn-out campaign season (consider that parliamentary democracies like the one up north does it in just five weeks), a new class of sidelined voters in latecomer states, an advantage for better financed contenders, not to mention boredom interspersed by mudslinging between the early winter primaries and late-summer conventions.

Just a few reasons FairVote supports the American Plan to randomize primaries with a sensitivity for state size and its attendant benefits.

Also, stay tuned for the roll-out of our Fix the Primaries initiative, announced this week at Take Back America.