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Notre Dame ReSource: Schmuhl criticizes primary system

Author: Arts and Letters


Bemoaning recent developments in the nation’s electoral system, Robert Schmuhl, Annenberg-Joyce Professor of American Studies and Journalism at the University of Notre Dame, asks:“Is this any way to choose a president?”

In an op/ed piece in today’s edition of USA Today, Schmuhl argues that “the process for selecting the highest office is hopelessly confusing, constantly changing and seriously flawed.”

Schmuhl is particularly troubled by the fact that some 20 states are seeking to increase their electoral potency by planning primaries and caucuses for next Feb. 5, “creating, in effect, a national primary day.” This “front-loading,” he believes, will evaporate the influence of other states and result in a slate of hastily chosen “insider” candidates embarking on a debilitating 10-month campaign before the general election in November.

“Winning the nation’s (and world’s) most significant office should never be a cakewalk,” Schmuhl says. “But gaining the Democratic or Republican presidential nomination shouldn’t be a political pentathlon or a maze-like gauntlet that excludes so many citizens from direct participation.”

Contact: Professor Robert Schmuhl 574-631-5128 or

Originally published by Michael O. Garvey at on March 15, 2007.