I found this entry on Thomas Knapp’s blog, Kn@ppster, and found it quite interesting. Here is an excerpt; you can read it in its entry in its entirety at the link:
I’m not one for silver bullets—no one thing will put third party candidates into contention for the presidency—but some changes just make sense. One of those changes is nominating earlier. My recollection is that the Libertarian Party used to nominate its presidential candidates the year before the election. Andre Marrou was nominated for president in 1991. Ron Paul was nominated in 1987. And so on, and so forth. It was only in 1996 that the LP moved its nominating convention into the year of the election itself.
Late nominating conventions handicap third parties. We can’t expect the kind of pre-nomination media coverage that “major party” candidates get. The sooner a party positions itself behind a nominee, the sooner that nominee has access to the party’s full pool of presidential contributors and can get to work reaching beyond the party to the American public. It’s all well and good to hope that a pre-nomination third party candidate will “break out” and catch the mainstream media eye … but it seldom works out that way.
I think Tom Knapp makes a very good point. As far as I can see, the only downside to nominating earlier is that third parties won’t get any media attention at all during the primaries. Right now they don’t get much, but it does get them at least mentioned in many newspapers.
Then again, can the third parties overcome that negative, and list their presidential nominee on the primary ballot, as just one candidate for that office? I’m honestly not sure. If so, it would look in the press as if that one candidate has a great deal of support within the party, rather than as it is now when it appears to the public that each candidate receives a little support here, and a little support there. Making third party candidates appear to have overwhelming support during the primaries can only be a good thing.
On the other hand, many third party voters wouldn’t even bother to vote during the primaries, if they knew their candidate had already been chosen, so there may be no reason to mention them at all in the mainstream media.
It’s a complicated issue, and one which should be thoroughly explored.
Originally posted on Adventures In Frickintardistan