Early Primaries

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The presidential election campaign calendar has never been like what we're about to see. In 2000, nine states had voted in primaries or caucuses by the end of February. In 2004, that number jumped to nineteen. In 2008, that number could hit thirty or more.

States from New York to California are jamming their primaries forward to get in on the action. The result is more like a big bang than a primary season. Money matters more than ever. And the way Americans get to know and sort their options is being transformed.

This hour On Point: the primary pile-up, remaking the race for the White House.

Quotes from the Show:

"Well, we have a primary process that is really fundamentally transforming. ... What this tends to do by concentrating so many states closer to the front is paradoxically increase the influence of those inevitable first two states, Iowa and New Hampshire, because the momentum you get there can cascade over what comes next." Ron Brownstein

"It's hard to see how having a two-year presidential campaign is in the best interest of the country." Ron Brownstein

"Behind this are two trends. One is the trend of reform, post-68, in the parties, and the other is the change in the electorate toward the dealignment, increasing dealignment of the electorate, people moving away from the parties toward what Marty Wattenberg calls candidate-centered politics." Jack Beatty

"What's going on now is more like the primary but without the elections so we don't get the chance to see how the voters really evaluate the candidates except through the polls, and polls, especially in primary season, can be very volatile because there's a very small number of people that are going to vote in the primaries." Michael McDonald

"We don't want 2008 to be a mess. We'd like it to work out ok even given the frontloading of the calendar. But our hope will recognize and say 'hey, we really do have a problem.' We have to have a better way to do this and that both parties, their leadership, the academics, will come together." Trey Grayson


Ron Brownstein, columnist, Los Angeles Times

Michael McDonald, professor, George Mason UniversityTrey Grayson, has served as Kentucky's Secretary of State since 2004 and chairman of the Republican Association of Secretaries of State;
Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst

This program aired on April 10, 2007.


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