Florida Republicans for Obama: Why moving the primary is a bad idea

The real motivation here may be the traditional desire among party elites to settle the nomination early, lest Republicans fight among themselves for too long. Many party pros have already signed up with one candidate or another, and they dread a drawn-out contest that they think will weaken the eventual nominee.

But a drawn-out competition didn’t seem to hurt Barack Obama in 2008, and this year of all years Republicans should want a long vetting process. It’s already October 3, and a rushed calendar means the primary campaign would be over in four or five months. This would help the well known and well-heeled candidates, or those who have been running for years. But it may not help the GOP select the best nominee for this consequential election season when voters are looking for a candidate who can win, rather than the one who is merely next in line.

Republicans should want an extensive audition that introduces their candidates to more voters for a longer period. Larger states like Florida complain that small electorates like those in New Hampshire or the social conservatives in Iowa have an outsized nominating role. But truncating the primary season will only enhance their influence by making it harder for a candidate to recover from even a second or third place finish in either small state.

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