Race for party nomination will be over by February

AMERICANS will know who will hold the Democrat and Republican presidential tickets in the dead of winter next year.

By next February, the crucial race for the party nomination is likely to be over, paving the way for what could be the longest general election campaign in US history.

More than half the 50 states have moved up their primaries – preliminary polls that decide which candidates will lead the Democrat and Republican parties – to Feb5, or are considering the date that has been christened Super Duper Tuesday.

Vote-rich New York and New Jersey on the East Coast and California on the West are among the many that have jumped onto the bandwagon.

Traditionally, the presidential nomination process gives disproportionate power to a handful of states that hold the earliestprimary contests – a month earlier – such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

But with more states catching on to the idea that the early state gets greater clout, the dynamics of the primaries look set to change.

Unlike the old, drawn-out primary system that could stretch from January to June, the new schedule will end the nomination process as quickly as it began. That has significant implications for those running for the White House.

Earlier primaries mean a rush for funds – as demonstrated over the last six months as Democrats and Republicans work the ground to generate cash reserves sooner rather than later to fight several fronts across the country.

Front-loading benefits those with a huge war chest – and gives little chance for a surprise candidate to emerge.

Mr Daniel Casse of the White House Writers Group wrote recently: “What will be new in the 2008 system is the elimination of momentum… In past years, a decisive win or even an unexpectedly strong showing in Iowa or New Hampshire could electrify a campaign and fuel fund raising. But in 2008, there simply won’t be enough time for a candidate to build on his earlier successes.”

Observers note that in 1992, after losing earlier primaries, Democrat Bill Clinton went on to win the Democratic nomination and the presidency.

2008 is unlikely to spring a similar surprise.

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