As Deval Patrick throws his hat into the ring and Michael Bloomberg takes steps to join the presidential race, their prospects are questionable. According to an historical analysis by Jeff Greenfield, late entries fare poorly. Even more evidence that our nominating process is seriously faulty. It’s not good for candidates or the public if people come too late to the campaign a year before Election Day.

Candidates have to devote too much time to campaigning and too little time to more productive activities. As a result, many very qualified people decide against running, And locking in the field more than a year in advance greatly limits the ability of voters to update their preferences on the basis of current information.

One might worry that a shorter process would favor established candidates with greater name recognition. There’s some truth to that. But the Framers of the Constitution were right to want people to ascend to the presidency after a distinguished career of public service. Other countries have figured out how to keep campaigns to a few months or less. So should we.

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