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A “race to be first” is emerging in the Presidential Primary race. In 2004, fourth place John Kerry shocked the longtime front-runner Howard Dean by winning the Iowa Caucus. The upset rolled over into the New Hampshire primary nine days later, handing John Kerry another upset victory. From there, reports of each Kerry victory made his winning the DNC nomination seem more and more inevitable. By the time the Primaries were held months later in states like Oregon (May) and South Dakota (June), there wasn’t any point in even voting because no other Democratic candidate could win enough states to defeat Kerry. The “vote” of people in those later states was essentially stolen from them. Their right to choose their own candidate taken away by states that held their primaries earlier.

It wasn’t always this way. When Senator John F. Kennedy found out he had won the Democratic Party’s nomination AT the 1960 Democratic National Convention, he didn’t even know who his Vice President would be. And except for the educated guesses of polls, no one knew “for sure” Kennedy had even won the Democratic nomination for president UNTIL the votes were counted AT the convention.

1960 DNC Convention
1960 Democratic National Convention

Over the past few elections, the Broadcast Television Networks (ABC/CBS/NBC/Fox) argue they they shouldn’t be forced to even broadcast the RNC/DNC conventions at all because “They aren’t news. They’re free three hour infomercials for the candidates without commercial interruption“. Broadcast TV is given the right to use the airwaves “for free” by the government. In return, the government requires that they use at least part of that time to “inform the public” by broadcasting the news. But now that there is no longer any mystery who each Party’s candidate will be by the time each holds its national convention, what happens at these conventions is arguably no longer “news”.

In 2004, the three major networks only broadcast one hours’ worth of convention coverage each of the four nights it was on. Fox only broadcast ONE hour on the final night of each convention, the hours of the candidate’s acceptance speeches. And the conventions themselves bombed in the ratings. No one watched because everyone already knew who had won.

Is it any wonder the states are fighting to move their primaries earlier and earlier (see video above), moving their elections up before other states make the decision for them? And is it any wonder the networks don’t want to broadcast the conventions, and no one watches when they do?

The solution to all this is simple: DO NOT ALLOW STATES TO REVEAL THE RESULTS OF THEIR PRIMARIES UNTIL THE CONVENTION. just as they did before television started broadcasting the result of primaries from coast-to-coast.

On election night every November of a National election, the media is prohibited from announcing the poll results of each state until ALL the polls have closed in the United States (I’m not sure whether Hawaii is included in that) to prevent the results of earlier East Coast states influencing the voting of states in the West. So does it make any sense to reveal the results of the PRIMARIES before later states have voted?

Had this rule of been in place back in 2004, the election almost certainly would of turned out differently. Former Governor Howard Dean had been the defacto front-runner for months. And had the results of the early primaries of not been announced, that perception certainly would of continued. And the announcement of the results at the DNC Convention would unarguably of been “news” and much more widely watched by the public at large.

It only makes sense. It’s time to stop announcing state primary results early. Wait until the Convention and there will be no need for every state to try and move their primaries earlier and earlier.

Nominating Conventions served an important political function for almost 200 years in this country. It’s time to make them relevant again.