As we come out from the presidential election cycle, I think that we are all as weary as the candidates. Two years have passed since the Republicans began sending up trial balloons and courting potential candidates, and Democrats began positioning for a re-election campaign. A year has passed since the first Republican debates gave us a long pre-primary candidate exposure, and the administration wrung its hands over the collapse of the Super Committee. The year began with various smaller states tripping over each other to hold their primary elections and caucuses before other states. Both Romney and Obama were actively giving campaign speeches, and SuperPAC were spewing toxic, negative adds, well before the party conventions. In my opinion our presidential campaign cycles have become way too long.
To be direct, I propose a different timeline. The two weeks of party conventions, followed by two months of campaigning are quite sufficient for voters to view the candidates and make a decision. Well that was easy.
The real problem is the way-too-long primary season. I propose to truncate this into June and July. No jockeying for position or campaigning should occur the year before the election. January to June of a presidential election year could be used by prospective candidates to start lining up support, forming their local and state organizations, and filing with each state’s election commission. June 1st would be the opening of campaigning season in preparation for four regional primary dates.
To eliminate having states setting their primary dates ahead of other states, hoping to gain some influence, the country would be grouped into four regions, including both metropolitan and rural areas into each region. These four regions would hold their primary elections or caucuses on each Tuesday, starting with the last week of June, then the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Tuesdays in July, leading up to the party conventions. No elections would be held on the 1st week of July, to allow us to enjoy the 4th of July holiday, and maybe contemplate the reasons for that holiday. The candidates could participate in up to four debates, one held the Thursday the before each of the primary dates. The four primary regions would be rotated on a 16-year cycle, such that each region would have the first dates once every fourth election. By holding primary elections regionally, candidate could consolidate their travel to each region in one week, rather than running from Iowa to Florida, et al in the same day.
Six months to pull together an organization, two months for the primary election season, two weeks of party conventions, and ten weeks for the candidates to campaign is plenty of time for the voters to make up their minds. Okay folks, we have three years to pass legislation in 50 states to get everyone on board.