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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: September 2020

7 - Primary Day: Why Presidential Nominees Should Be Chosen on a Single Day

Summary

Why do we have an Election Day but not a Primary Day? No aspect of the presidential nomination process causes as much controversy as the primary calendar. The calendar starts off in January or February and ends in June of each election year. A total of 57 states and territories hold their primaries and caucuses over the course of these months. The Iowa caucuses always start off the calendar, followed by the New Hampshire primaries. The results of these contests invariably eliminate some candidates and bestow momentum on others. Many more candidates participate in the first few presidential nomination contests than in the many later ones. As a result, disproportionate power is given to voters whose states hold early nomination contests, while the citizens of states with later nomination contests have less or sometimes no voice in choosing their party’s presidential nominee. In most years, a party’s presidential nomination contest ends months before citizens in the late-voting states have ever had a chance to cast their ballots. To gain more influence and a greater voice, a number of ambitious states have tried to move their primaries and caucuses forward, creating a phenomenon that has come to be known as “front-loading.”

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