Almost everyone agrees on one thing about today's presidential campaigns. They take too long.
Voters show little appetite for a two-year presidential campaign. Political bloggers love politics, but even they complain this race started too early. And Karl Rove, who knows something about winning presidential campaigns, said last week it's all too much, too soon. He warns that politicians risk "wear[ing] out their welcome," which he also knows something about.
Now reporters are getting into the act, lamenting a process that "starts too early, takes too long, and ends too abruptly." (Never mind that the media lengthens the campaign with tons of early, speculative coverage.)
And over at The Nation, we're kicking off our 2008 campaign blog, Campaign Matters, a whopping 11 months before the Iowa Caucus and 21 months before the general election. So I think the least we can do is brainstorm some ways to shorten this campaign. Here are two ideas.
First, the political parties should just reschedule their primaries much later in the year. When the Iowa caucus began in 1976, there was no year-long pre-season for presidential campaigns. As late as the 1990s, candidates still didn't officially announce until the final months before the January caucus. Bill Clinton announced in October 1991. So it still was reasonable to hold the first primary in January of the campaign year.
But now that politicians campaign for a full year before the primary begins, the January caucus ensures a long war. Move the goal posts, and the campaigns will start later.
Second, too many candidates sidestep campaign finance restrictions by funding their early campaign activity with money from "exploratory" committees, Senate re-election funds and PACs. But everyone knows they're running for president. Congress should require they only use money raised for a presidential campaign. That could delay some of the early blitzes.
If you have other ideas, put them in the comments section -- we have plenty of time to think of something.
Originally posted at Campaign Matters, The Nation's new blog covering Campaign '08 from the White House and Congress to the grassroots and the netroots.
UPDATE: John Nichols has a new Campaign Matters post about Hillary Clinton winning the endorsment of "two of South Carolina's most prominent black Democrats," one of whom said that nominating a black candidate for president would "kill" Democratic chances in 2008.