Our state’s next presidential primary, in 2020, will be held in March. The filing period will begin in December of the previous year. That seems awfully early to start all the political hooting and hollering, but it’s the right thing to do. Our long tradition of May primaries was kicking voter interest to the curb.
While in off years, the date of the primary doesn’t matter all that much — turnouts are likely to stay low no matter when the vote is held — in presidential years, it makes a world of difference. Even the mundane and not-useful Iowa caucuses draw enormous attention, simply because they’re early in the presidential election cycle. The nation’s voters want to make sense of the horse race that’s unfolding in front of them, and the early primaries draw the nation’s attention and get big turnouts from state voters.
But by May, in most years, the horse race is over and the front-runners are loping along to the summer conventions. It’s hard to get voters excited about that trip to the polls.
March is different. Just a couple of months into the presidential race, we’ll know that our votes will mean something, that we’ll have a hand in deciding the winners and losers.
So we’re pleased to see that the General Assembly has signed off on a measure that permanently moves the North Carolina even-year primary to March.