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Saturday, February 27, 2016

The elongated presidential campaign season

If you feel this Presidential campaign cycle is taking way too long, you are not alone. From the first candidate announcing his candidacy, which happened to be Ted Cruz, to the general election,  the official campaign season will last 596 days. This huge number looks even bigger when you consider the U.K has campaign length is 139 days, Canada is 78 days, and Japan is 12 days. This doesn't even include the unofficial season, which future candidates raise money and attack voters and staff members needed to have a strong primary. Why is our campaign season two years while other developed countries have campaign seasons have less than a year?
        This why question can't be answered in a single blog post, but understanding the history of our nation's primaries can help answer this question. In the early years of our history, Congress choose the presidential nominee. There was a shift in the mid-1800's, when party conventions, held in mid-June, took shape. But this conventions weren't like the conventions you see in our cycle. Candidates back then didn't need to have vigorous campaigns. The nomination all came dow to the convention, where selected elites came to gather to choose someone. This led to "back door deals" and "smoked filed rooms". This allowed dark horse candidates to win the nomination. In 1910, Oregon was the first state to hold a primary to elect delegates for the nomination.
         However, those votes lack decisiveness because the big vote came in the convention and delegates were known for changing their vote. However, there was a major turning point in the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago. In that convention, Hubert H. Humphrey won the nomination without winning a single state. This lead to a system where delegates per state were proportional to state's population. Also, state parries moved to more open procedures for choosing delegates rather than letting party leaders picking them in secret. This shifted the focus of the season from the convention to the state primaries. As a result, states wanted their primary to be the ear lies so it has the biggest impact There are now rules in place so every state can't vote in February.