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Conservatives also say the early primary schedule necessarily followed by an extended general election campaign is boring to death to an already restless electorate.

“The problem with the front-loading is that the nominee is decided very early in the cycle and people tend to lose interest prior to election day,” Mrs. Blackburn says. “I personally think the public is well served by having the time to get to know a candidate’s philosophy of life and politics. Engaging in the process serves both the public and the candidate well.”

Disputing party officials who say the big states must move up their contests to stay relevant, Mr. Pauken says the shift only “diminishes the influence of states like Texas, which once played a significant role in the process with its May primary, as did California with its June primary. It encourages a stampede mentality better get on the train now before it’s too late.”