...take Three Giant Steps Backward?
If there's one reform of the presidential nomination process that I think absolutely everyone agrees to in principle, it would be getting every state to back up a bit -- to moving the primaries and caucuses from January to March, where they were in 2008, to something like March to June. Or, as Josh Putnam's Frontloading HQ reports, from February. Well, it's something.
The problem is that there's a huge collective action problem involved, or really multiple problems. Every state believes that going early is better than going late, so they all have an incentive to move their dates up...leading to an earlier and earlier start date every time. However, all states are better off if they all back up from winter to spring, keeping everything else constant. The problem is that there are a lot of independent players involved: two national parties, fifty state governments, one hundred state parties, and a handful of candidates on at least one side. So we'll see if they can pull this off, but it's nice to see that they're at least trying. I know of no justification at all on the merits for deciding the nominations (at least, the part of deciding that goes on in primaries and caucuses) in the winter, instead of the spring or even the early summer. That's especially true because many of the key decisions are made not by voters, but by party elites -- and it makes no sense for their decisions to be pushed back well out of the election year. Granted, some of their decisions will be made well in advance in any case, and there's nothing wrong with that, but the onset of voting and the first few rounds of voting are hard deadlines. Deadlines that everyone would be happy to see later in the year.
So, good news that there's movement in the right direction. We'll see, of course, whether it sticks.