Can Early Primary Elections Be A Problem?

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Many observers believe that holding so many presidential primary elections at such an early point is a serious problem. How strong is this argument?Can contributions be seen as a form of protected expression?

Apr 29th, 2015

Several states have rescheduled their primaries for earlier in the election season in the belief that the earlier a state holds its primary, the more significant the results will be.  There are some historical precedents to support this idea:  In 1952 and 1968, the incumbent president decided to drop his re-election bid after finishing poorly in the New Hampshire primary.  However, wins or losses in early primaries are not always an indicator of a candidate's ultimate success in the quest for a party's nomination.  The problem with early primaries is that they offer an advantage to well-funded candidates who can afford to stage a "media blitz" to win votes, so that the candidates with the most to spend can reach the maximum number of voters.

On the issue of contributions and protected expression, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against limits on campaign contributions on several occasions, notably Citizens United v. FEC in 2010, and McCutcheon v. FEC in 2014.  In each case, the majority rulings indicated that limiting contributions is tantamount to limiting the right to participate in the electoral process; however, the majority opinions held that removing the limits damages the process by allowing large contributors to exercise undue influence.

I hope this is helpful. 

Apr 29th, 2015

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