The tradition in American politics has been for campaign season to unofficially kick off on Labor day, as candidates, campaigns, voters and journalists return from August vacations and focus their attention on the remaining nine weeks before Election Day. However–just as the presidential nomination process starts earlier and earlier–Congressional and gubernatorial campaigns are now beginning to follow a similar trend. Add to that this year’s increased Democratic motivation to take advantage of low presidential approval ratings, as well as Republican efforts to maintain control of the legislative branch, and the political environment is heating up faster than early summer temperatures.
Each major party’s national committees are focusing energy and resources on the special elections and primary races that have taken place–and will continue to–this year, in hopes of generating real or perceived momentum for the fall. This past Tuesday, June 13, was no different, as several more states selected party nominees in contests for Senate and governor:
In some cases, these primary contests simply serve as an official verification of the de facto party standard-bearer, and as a result voter turnout is even lower than usual. In others, a party may be deciding between moderate and more ideological candidates, and the result will have a lot to do with the character of the general election race. Regardless, it’s always worthwhile to keep an eye on these summer primaries–kind of like the conference tournaments before March Madness, there’s often surprise, excitement and plenty of drama.