If you're looking for someone to blame for the ever-expanding length of the presidential campaign season, Larry Sabato has a suggestion: how about Jimmy Carter? Sabato points out in The Wall Street Journal that from 1920 to 1972, the primary season didn't even start until mid-March on the calendar year of the election. Carter's campaign changed all that when, after he left office as governor of Georgia in 1975, he "practically became a resident of Iowa," where the country's first nominating contest was being held. The strategy was successful, and it has become the campaign norm today, causing states to jockey for influence by moving their primaries ever earlier (Iowa's 2012 caucuses are tentatively scheduled for Jan. 3.) Some have proposed reforms to reverse this trend, but Sabato isn't hopeful: "We'll just have to content ourselves with a crazy-quilt, eternal campaign—an electoral purgatory of our own creation."
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