"This is shaping up to be an ugly presidential primary season, and the candidates have not even started getting ugly yet. [...] The presidential primary system is broken."
The New York Times, September 2, 2007
Voters Cut Out
With so few states in possession of a meaningful vote during the primaries, much of the country's voters never get to participate in a way that can affect the outcome. The issues of concern to politically important states are elevated on the agendas of presidential candidates at the expense of other issues important to the nation.
"Front-loading" refers to the phenomenon of states pushing their primaries earlier and earlier, so that the election is decided too quickly. The process has begun earlier every election for about two decades. This year, almost half the states will have moved to the earliest date allowed by the parties, on February 5th ("Tsunami Tuesday.")
A Rush to Judgement
In addition to a campaign season that begins ludicrously early, the primary elections can be over all too quickly. Candidates who do well, or better than expected, in first two states of Iowa and New Hampshire coast forward on a surge of momentum and a coushin of free media, into a rapid-fire series of primaries to follow. This slingshot effect removes all opportunity for deliberation and reconsideration.
Chaos and Political Consequences
With every state party, in conjunction with the legislature, free to schedule their own contests, any semblance of a cohesive national schedule rapidly falls into disarray. This year, the DNC and RNC found themselves in a battle with their own state parties. In fact the Democrats were caught in a fight with two swing states. Scheduling changes can also be made by lawmakers to help or hurt certain candidates.
See the our list of reform solutions.