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Why starting a presidential campaign early is better

Why it’s better to start a presidential campaign early

Why starting a presidential campaign early is better

Nikki Haley's announcement that she will run in the GOP primary appeared to put the fledgling presidential campaign for the year 2024 into a higher gear this week. Along with former President Donald Trump, he is the only major rival to declare that they will run for president. The former governor of South Carolina and a former ambassador to the United Nations is joining the race.

My mind started racing after I read Haley's remark, especially in light of the fact that President Joseph Biden and a number of other Republicans, like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, had not made any such statements as of yet. If a candidate wins a primary, does that candidate typically enter the campaign for president early or late?

The response to this question is dependent on the other candidates. It is to your advantage to have an early start in a primary election if there is not an incumbent in the race; nevertheless, this factor is of much less significance when there is an incumbent candidate.

The opportune moment to start running

The contemporary period of the primary election began in 1972 for the Democrats and in 1976 for the Republicans on both sides of the political aisle. Since then, hundreds of prominent contenders have either made the decision to run for president or have at the very least established exploratory committees with the Federal Election Commission. I made a note of the date that came first for each of them to determine whether or not there was a consistent trend.

It has been shown that the date of March 16 of the year prior to the general election has been the median date for candidates to enter a presidential primary in which there is not an incumbent. From one year to the next, there has been a significant amount of difference in that regard. In some years, the candidate who finishes in the middle of the pack enters the race very early (January 2007 for the 2008 cycle on both the Democratic and Republican sides), while in other years, it doesn't happen until much later (August 1991 for the 1992 cycle on the Democratic side).

There is no clear association between how late or how early a field forms and the performance of the ultimate nominee in the general election. This holds true for both the Democratic and Republican nomination processes. Even though they got their campaign off to a considerably later start in 1992, Democrats nevertheless managed to win the president both in 1992 and in 2008.

The timing of a candidate's entry into the campaign in comparison to that of their opponents is one factor that appears to be important for primary victory. Ten of the winning candidates in the seventeen primaries held since 1972 that did not involve an incumbent entered the race earlier than the median contender in that year's election. Two of the winners were chosen from among the candidates who placed in the middle. Five candidates entered the contest later than the candidate who is considered to be the median.

There were six candidates who launched their campaigns at least one and a half months or more before the median candidate for that season. In the 1972 election season, Democratic candidate George McGovern began his campaign nearly an entire year before the typical candidate in that election period.

McGovern is the first major-party contender who has ever received fewer than five percent of the vote in early national polls, while the polling leader has consistently had more than twenty percent of support. When compared to when the primary elections really take place, the fact that McGovern's campaign was so successful is one of the reasons why primary campaigns appear to begin so early.

The three most important aspects of a successful presidential campaign are having an early presence in the public eye, accumulating financial resources, and constructing an organisation. That could turn out to be a catastrophe if you get too far behind schedule.

Even candidates who you might "believe" entered the race late frequently got in the race much sooner than you might have thought. The official statement that Trump made in June 2015 became famous due to the fact that he made it while riding down an escalator. Less well known is the fact that he launched a presidential exploratory committee in March of 2015, despite the fact that he was already running for office at the time.

There is, of course, no assurance of victory simply by entering a contest for the presidency early on. Both former Florida Governor Reubin Askew in the 1984 cycle and former Maryland Representative John Delaney in the 2020 cycle submitted their candidature for the Democratic primary with the FEC fewer than twelve months after the previous election for president. Neither one was very successful.

Yet, getting involved early is preferable to participating later on in the game. After all, the winners who entered the contest later did not enter the contest until a significantly later time. The most recent one, for instance, was the Republican Ronald Reagan during the campaign of 1980. He started his application process fewer than three months behind the average candidate.

In the 2020 election cycle, Joe Biden was the only other successful candidate who entered the race more than 15 days after the median candidate.

Both Biden and Reagan shared some characteristics that only a select few people possessed. They were already well known on a national level and had previously ran for president, so they did not require any time to establish their name recognition or to construct a campaign and fundraising machinery.

What we've seen increasingly frequently is the late-entering "saviour" candidate who enters on a white horse — and ultimately fails to win. Consider the campaigns of former Senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee in the 2008 election cycle and Governor Rick Perry of Texas in the 2012 election season. Both Republicans made a big splash when they entered the race, but in the end, they won no primaries between them. The same thing happened with the Democratic candidate Mike Bloomberg in the 2020 election, despite the fact that he won American Samoa.

Advantage incumbents

For incumbents, on the other hand, there is a much increased window of opportunity during which they can delay making it publicly known whether or not they will seek reelection.

Since 1976, the 30th of April of the year prior to the general election has been the date that most presidents either organise an exploratory committee or announce their candidature for the office of president. That is almost a month and a half later than the time when the typical challenger gets their campaign up and running.

It is true that several presidents have left office before their time. The beginning of the end for Trump's campaign to be reelected in 2020 began the moment he moved into the White House. (On the day of the inauguration, he established an exploratory committee.)

However, the rule of thumb for incumbents is to wait until later. It wasn't until October 1983 that Ronald Reagan officially kicked off his reelection campaign in 1984, which went on to be extremely successful. In a similar fashion, George H.W. Bush kicked up his campaign for reelection in 1992 in October 1991.

It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that incumbents can afford to go later in the balloting process. They almost never face any significant challengers for the nomination of their party. Because of their widespread brand recognition, incumbents do not require the same amount of time to build up the infrastructure of their campaigns in order to gather funds.

It would appear that everything fits in line with what Biden is going through at this moment in time. In point of fact, there are certain sources that predict he will most likely declare his candidature for reelection in the month of April.

Yet, for Republicans who are debating whether or not it is too early to launch their campaign, history provides a rather definitive answer. It is in your best interest to get started as soon as possible; else, you may be too far behind to catch up.

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