A few of us in the newsroom were a little stunned to hear the state was moving the date of the presidential primary to April 24, 2012. The 2008 Connecticut presidential primary was so much earlier: February 5th, right in the thick of the primary season.
As journalists, we were also a little surprised by this comment about the new date from Secretary of the State Denise Merrill:
“Pushing the primary date back a little will allow Connecticut to have more regional clout, especially since our neighboring states are also moving their primaries to that day. This helps both state parties and the voters, who are already paying close attention to the critical process of choosing our President.”
I’m not sure moving our primary to late in the calendar serves the voters well. The historic fact is, as each week goes by, more candidates will drop out. By the time April rolls around, the menu of candidates offered to voters in Connecticut will have far fewer choices than the array offered to voters in New Hampshire.
Speaking of New Hampshire, why don’t we fight to have an earlier primary so we can be more relevant in the selection of a president? Connecticut is more diverse than New Hampshire, more populous, and a more accurate microcosm of the country.
The 2008 campaign was one of the most exciting primary seasons in years because there was no incumbent running. Even still, Connecticut only had a handful of visits from candidates, and our primary was fairly early in the process. Barack Obama spoke to a full house at the XL center on the eve of the primary. The President won’t have any challengers for the nomination in ’12, and a repeat of that downtown Hartford hoopla is highly unlikely. He’s already assured victory in the Democratic primary, and has no need to campaign here.
It will be up to the Republican candidates to provide some excitement for Constitution State primary voters, but don’t count on it. The odds are the GOP nomination will be clinched by the time the Connecticut presidential primary is held 3 weeks into the baseball season and two weeks after Easter. The last time a Republican presidential primary race was still being decided in April was 1980.