This year Florida will hold its primaries on August 24th just 11 weeks before the general election. Only a few other states hold their primaries after Florida. The Sunshine state also has one of the longest primary seasons. The deadline for filing for the primary is just under 4 months out from the election. Primaries this long and this close to the general election may not be an ingredient in the recipe for success for either party in Florida. It also may be part of the reason Republicans aren’t faring well in the Governor’s race and Democrats aren’t doing so well in the Senate race.
If the Republicans lose the governorship it will likely be in part because of the primary. The primary has been brutal and long. As soon as the primary is over the general election will take off in full swing, Rick Scott will have no time to recover and Alex Sink will be able to take advantage of the foul taste left in voters’ mouths. Republicans had the upper hand before they started swinging fists at each other, if there was more time following the primary they might be able to remind voters of their original loyalties.
The Democrats are suffering from something different in the Senate race but the cause may be the same. Neither Democrat has been able to emerge as the leader. Democrats are falling deep in the shadows of the Crist/Rubio drama and have been left without a defined leader to forge ahead. The party hasn’t united behind a candidate and they won’t be able to until the primary is over. The longer the wait the higher Crist and Rubio will climb.
Both of these races are complicated by the fact that only one party is holding a primary. So while one candidate is able to rally his or her base, save money and campaign on the offensive another candidate is on the defense, proving his or her merits to the party.
Illinois has the earliest primary on February 2nd, 9 months before the general election and Hawaii has the latest on September 18th only a month and half before the election. Candidates in Illinois have seven and a half more months to travel the state, formulate their agenda and rally their supporters. They also have seven and a half more months to spend money, be forgotten, launch negative campaign ads and have their lives unwound. Maybe we should look to the June 8th states (SC, NJ, IA, VA, MT, CA, SD, ND, ME and NV) for inspiration.