Would you like the American presidential campaign season to be shorter?

Like, no primaries or caucuses until July 1, no exceptions; no party conventions before October 1; only one month of real head-to-head campaigning between the nominees.

I think it’s pretty much like that in most democracies. Or maybe even shorter.

Congress would not have the authority to decree that, but if both parties just made a gentleman’s agreement . . .

The campaign season already starts a full year before the first primaries. All that this would do is make it start a year and a half beforehand.

Exactly. A better question might be, “during what periods of the campaign do we seem to have the best signal-to-noise ratio in terms of learning about where the candidates stand, and how best can we extend those periods and shrink others?”

The conventions and the debates are good, but it would be silly to expand the conventions, and the best way to get more debates between the two finalists would be to move the conventions earlier - something that the parties are free to choose to do.

The problem with the primaries is that we have, as ultrafilter said, this whole year of campaigning before the first primary. I’d add that part of the problem with that period is that there’s no limit to the number of ‘vanity candidates’ that can participate in intraparty debates during that period, reducing the amount of time that the more viable candidates get on stage. IIRC, there were something like 20 Democratic debates before Iowa, and few afterwards.

My counterintuitive solution would be to move the first few primaries and caucuses well into the year before the election. If Iowa and New Hampshire had had their caucuses and primaries in June and September of 2007, followed by Nevada and South Carolina in October and November, debates in the fall of 2007 would have been among a shrunken candidate pool - either because minor candidates would have dropped out, or because the debate organizers would have had concrete grounds to exclude them. At that point, the debates would have told us a great deal about the best 3-5 candidates, rather than a little bit each about eight or nine candidates.

Oh yes, please.

I’m tired of this campaign enough to consider a quick match of Russian roulette a good way to decide who will be the new POTUS. And I’m not even US citizen!

I have two objections to this idea. Firstly, the “real” problem is the amount of unofficial (sometimes vanity) campaigning that goes on before the primaries.
Secondly, if we did shorten the campaign season, only one month of real head-to-head campaigning is too short. I don’t care if other countries do it that way successsfully, it’s not what we’re used to, and I think my ideal timeframe for an election is more on the lines of 6 months.

Hell, I’d have been happy if the campaign has just started by last Autumn. It was starting in the freakin’ Spring!

I don’t mind the primaries starting Jan/Feb(?). I do mind the race being decided by the time of the primary here (Indiana), although it did free me up to vote for Hillary. I’d like to see them arranged somehow so that all the states could decide the race.

You might be interested to read this article by a Canadian on the US election cycle by John Ibbitson.

Strikes me that extended election cycles allows for a much more transparent vetting of candidates. Though to be fair, once a party leader is elected, Canadians do get to see more of their future leaders in action than Americans.

Aye, it’s the same in Spain - the “pre campaign” starts over a year before the first posters get stuck to walls. It seems to keep getting longer, too, any year now we’ll start talking about the n+1 candidates of the main parties before the n election posters get put up.

It isn’t so much the length of the campaign that bothers me–every democracy is pretty much a permanent campaign–but the length of the voting. We’ve started voting for President in January, more than a year before Inauguration Day. That’s ridiculous.

However . . .

As we’ve discussed before, the parties have little control over their own nominating process. As long as they rely on state-run primaries to select the majority of their convention delegates, they’re at the mercy of 50 state legislatures, each of which has a vested interest in holding its primary earlier.

The only certainty is that the 2012 primary season will start earlier still.

Something should be done. This election has been going on so long I’ve forgotten about it for weeks, paid attention for weeks, and forgotten about it for weeks again, many times over already. I’ll probably forget about it for a few weeks again (at least I hope I can) before it’s all over. Primaries should take place within 2 weeks of each other in late spring. Campaigning before that should be strongly discouraged.

Yes – but almost every member of those legislatures has either a D or an R next to his/her name.

Something should be done. This election has been going on so long I’ve forgotten about it for weeks, paid attention for weeks, and forgotten about it for weeks again, many times over already. I’ll probably forget about it for a few weeks again (at least I hope I can) before it’s all over. Primaries should take place within 2 weeks of each other in late spring. Campaigning before that should be strongly discouraged.

But they act as state legislators, not as members of some national caucus. Compressing the primary schedule would require not just a “gentleman’s agreement” between the parties, but an agreement to which legislators of both parties in all 50 states adhere. That’s a much tougher row to hoe.

Sweet Jesus, yes. If you can’t make up your mind who you’re voting for within 6 weeks, you’ve got real problems.

Pffft. The federal executive is too important to be left to telegenic volunteers. Candidates for the cabinet should submit their applications by mail & qualify based on scores in a double-blind testing system. Plebiscite voting for a limited-term quasi-monarch to appoint the lot by patronage is so last centu–actually, who does that other than the USA? It’s dumb, is what it is.

IMO, the campaign itself is a reasonable length for choosing the best person to fill the office of President. By which, I’m talking from the first primaries in February until the general election in the first week of November.

What appears to annoy people the most, and is unstoppable legally, only through widesprad public presure, is the 3.2 years of pre-campaign, in which the Deputy Attorney General for Northern New Mexico, the Junior Senator from West Bumblefuck, and virtually anyone else with a public office higher than Snowplow Operator is examined incessantly as a Presidential Hopeful. Watch – by February 1, 2009, someone will hav done a column, blog, or news article on who’s likely to run in 2012.

It goes too long. The whole shebang should be 4 months.
The networks love it. Political programs all night long paid for by political parties. Large viewership, tons of pundits. The News networks exist for this stuff.

Will never happen because there is too much money tied up in the entire process. Go on, tell the networks that you’re going to cut hundreds of millions of dollars from their budget and see how much coverage they provide for your campaign.

The average public would love it, but there is just too much of an incestuous relationship between media coverage /advertising dollars for it to have a chance.

Well, we probably could do with a lot more party discipline in this country, too, but that’s a whole 'nother thread.

Voting in America drags on so long it is kind of like finding a mate. You court potential boy/girl friends for a couple of years, then you narrow it to two picks and you hope you get to keep the cuter and smarter one (although they are both probably not what you’d really want). Then, each of them gets knocked up and another person suddenly enters the picture who you really didn’t know much about before and have to quickly get adjusted to. (vice president candidate = child). As you follow this courtship path you are flooded with so much mundane information about all four of them you probably know them better than your real life family or possibly even your own self. Then the big day comes when the two of them force you to decide between them and you realize no matter which you pick you’re going to regret it. You pick one anyways due to societal pressure to do the right thing. Crap, you picked the ugly one! Unbelievable, you had 4 years and you still screwed it up. Out of respect for the country’s feelings you’ll marry the ugly one come February but you just know its going to be a bad marriage and you can’t wait until the divorce papers come through in four years. Let that countdown begin. In the meantime lets see if we can’t find someone better…