Saturday, January 5, 2008

Indiana Shifts Focus to 2012

Stuck on a first Tuesday in May date again for the 2008 cycle, Indiana is among the first to begin thinking about moving its presidential primary for 2012 (Granted, many of the states that moved for the 2008 cycle moved permanently as opposed to the temporary move the NY legislature used in the 1990s.). State Rep. Suzanne Crouch (R-Evansville) has said recently that she plans on introducing a bill during the general assembly's 2009 session to move the state's primaries (all of them) to an earlier date.

I found it odd that Rep. Crouch would wait until next year when momentum may no longer be behind moving the primary. The assembly does meet every year unlike some states out west (eg: Oregon), which meet only every other year. So that wasn't the issue.

As the above article indicates several measures moving the primary have been proposed in the past only to fail. The difference this time seems to be that Rep. Crouch is advocating moving not only the presidential primary but the state and local primaries as well. Not to toot my own horn, but my own research has found that this is a major obstacle to a state frontloading its presidential primary. States that hold those two sets of primaries together are confronted with either moving everything or with creating an entirely new election for the presidential primary. Both cost money and states in this position are often hesitant or unwilling to make the jump.

So when we talk about frontloading, we are often talking about a state's ability to actually make the move. Those states with separate presidential and state/local primaries have a much easier job than those states where laws exist wedding the two primary types together. Indiana falls into this category. Once a state shows the willingness to move though, subsequent moves are all the easier to push through later (if need be). Maryland is a good example here. The state requires their primaries during a presidential election year to all be held at the same time. The state had already made the move to hold its presidential (and all others) on the traditional Super Tuesday (the first Tuesday in March) and when Super Tuesday moved up a month to the first Tuesday in February, the Maryland legislature had little trouble in inching its primaries up to maintain its position. Though, I should note that the legislature opted to move the primaries to the week after Super Tuesday (the second Tuesday in February).

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