The Democrat and Republican parties wanted to shuffle around the primary season this year and start things off early. The plan – especially for the Democrats – has backfired. Both parties were hoping to start early to get a clear general election candidate, but at the same time they hoped the other would not have a winner early in the process.
Plans developed after the 2004 primary season when it took John Kerry until the second week of March to lock up the nomination. Bush’s nomination on the Republican side was set by default, and since the battle between Kerry, Edwards, Dean, Clark, et al. (there were nine Democrat contenders) took time – and cash – away from fighting the fight against the dreaded W, it was time to rethink primary strategy.
The idea was to start early and get all of the primary and caucus stuff out of the way to make room for the general election. If it was clear-cut, they would not be spending as much cash to defend candidates against opponents from the same party. If it worked, a 2008 nominee could be declared by the first week of February, adding almost 40 days to the general election campaign season as compared to 2004.
Unfortunately for the Democrats, the Republican nominee, John McCain, sewed up his position in the first week of February, and Obama and Clinton are heading to a possible brokered convention this August in Denver; only 68 days prior to the general election.
My not-so-new math is telling me that of the 693 delegates from states, commonwealths and other places that still need to vote – Pa., Ind., N.C., W.Va., Ky., Ore., Mont., S.D., Guam and Puerto Rico – Obama needs 414 and Clinton 545 to get the required 2024.5. This will be an interesting couple of months, but when June 3 comes around and neither has the required delegates, that will be a really interesting 80 days.
Will someone drop out for the good of the party? Will they join forces and flip a coin? Will John Edwards ride into the convention as savior?
The last brokered conventions were in 1948 and 1952. The 1968 convention might have been brokered if it had not been for the assassination of Robert Kennedy. Since nobody in either campaign has probably ever been to one of these, who knows what will happen.
So, we ask, why did they want to start this circus early?
I’m convinced that they wanted the already too long campaign to last even longer so the candidates could enjoy years on the campaign trail instead of months.
These nutty politicians love to campaign. No matter what they say, they love it. They love to have handlers. They love having media personalities follow them around with cameras. They enjoy the attention, the speeches, the pancake breakfasts, the celebrity love, and the Sunday morning interviews. If they can start the campaign one month earlier, they can bring in millions of dollars to finance a campaign manager, writers, staff, food, new clothes and of course – a private jet.
Politicians want to keep the party atmosphere going, and since the end of the party has a defined date – Nov. 4 – the only way they can do that is start the festivities early.
And so they did.