More than any election in the past, the 2008 Presidential Primary race started early – with some candidates declaring their intentions to run even before the 2006 Congressional elections had been completed. So, what has the early campaigning achieved? Not much. Millions of more dollars have been spent, and we are seeing more advertising earlier, but, with a few exceptions, the race still looks remarkably similar to the way it did in February or March.
The problem seems to be that politicians can campaign all they want, but they simply can’t force the voting public to pay attention. Earlier campaigning has not convinced voters that they should be picking who to support any earlier than they normally do. Recent polls show that only about 25% of people are actually paying attention to the race at this point, and an even smaller number are set in their choice. The most recent debates have gotten terrible ratings, and, at least on the Republican side, the leader is most national polls is “undecided”.
Even if the race does see major changes – such as a lower-ranked candidate rising to take the nomination from the frontrunner, it will have to happen between now and the convention – no earlier than in past. All the early campaigning has done nothing for anybody, which leads me to believe that 2008 will mark the end of candidates trying to out-do each other by starting earlier than everybody else.