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3 Benefits of Bumping California's Primary

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    NEWSLETTERS

    David Parkinson via National Weather Service Data

    Political junkies, news organizations, and campaign strategists may hate it, but they'll be just about the only ones who are unhappy if the California legislature moves back the 2012 presidential election to June.

    Legislators are seriously thinking of returning to the traditional June format for all offices. Along with saving a few bucks, there may be other benefits.

    First, a June presidential primary will help reduce the cost of campaign expenditures, something particularly important to Republicans, who are more likely to have difficulty attracting funds to oppose Democratic incumbent Barack Obama.

    Second, with no Republican front-runner in sight at a time in the election cycle when candidates traditionally are off and running, voters for Republican candidates will have more time to look over the pack and make their decisions.

    Third, if the Republican field remains crowded into late spring 2012, California voters will have a rare opportunity to play a defining role in the outcome. And inasmuch as California has almost 20 percent of the votes necessary to win the nomination, several candidates will be all but renting second homes here next year.

    Six other states either have enacted or are also considering moving primaries.

    In 2008, California joined several other states and moved up its presidential primary to February separately from the June election for state offices and Congress.

    Legislators hoped that the early primary would increase the state's influence on the outcomes.

    Whether that happened is a matter of conjecture. But one thing is certain, namely the bifurcation confused some voters who didn't participate in June because of their belief that the February primary was the only nominating election.

    It also cost the state an additional $100 million--$100 million that it doesn't have in the midst of a $26 billion budget shortfall.

    It's always hard to know the time in a presidential primary season when a state will have more or less influence on the outcome. In 2012, the miseries of the state budget deficit may dictate the answer instead of political strategy.