State primaries and caucuses, which were once held over three or four months, are today mostly crammed into a six-week period at the beginning of the delegate selection calendar commencing on January 19. This year the Democratic nominee could be identified as early as February 3, or at least by Super Tuesday on March 2.
Critics of the system argue that this calendar denies most voters an opportunity to participate in selecting their party's nominee and weakens the ability of the parties to make considered choices.
On Wednesday, January 14, Brookings convened a public forum with three experts on presidential elections to discuss the practice of front-loading the primaries and its impact on the 2004 presidential elections. One of the panelists, William G. Mayer, is co-author with Andrew E. Busch of a new Brookings book, The Front-loading Problem in Presidential Nominations (Brookings, 2003).