Saturday, May 03, 2003

Is the campaign season to long?

Every election cycle it seems that things get started earlier and earlier. We are already having the first Presidential debate and its still nine months to the first primary! I was thinking about this some this morning when I was struck by one of the biggest dangers in having such a long campaign season: journalistic boredom. Consider this: the vast majority of voters don't start paying attention to the campaign until a couple of months before an election (for some it only starts to sink in a couple of weeks before hand). But political journalists have to cover it from the very first hint from any potential candidate that they might run. This can be 2-3 years before the average voter even becomes aware of the campaign. So, by the time Joe and Jane citizen are starting to ask questions about the candidates the journalists who are supposed to be providing them with the answers have already spent thousands of hours with these guys and already been exposed to these questions over and over and over and over and over again. By the time the voters show any curiosity on the subject they are more then ready to be over and done with it all. Is it any wonder the journalists who cover these races start getting a little punch drunk by that time? Is it any wonder that they latch onto meaningless, but fresh, stories about the candidates at a time when their audience is just starting to pay an interest in the story? Maybe we need to switch to a system like they have in other countries where it is outright illegal to campaign for political office more then a few weeks before any election. I'm sure both journalists AND voters would appreciate the change.


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