With President Bush and presidential hopeful John Kerry already trading jabs, the remainder of the presidential primary season seems like little more than a formality.
Kerry has essentially sewn it up with 1,626 of the 2,162 delegates needed to win his party's nomination already under his belt, and all of his chief rivals out of the race. However, five more states will weigh in this week, and in all, 21 states have yet to hold their primaries.
If the clock seems a bit off to you, you're not alone.
"The process is too compressed," U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona told MTV News. "It's way too compressed. Here we're going to decide by March, and the election isn't until November."
Four years ago, McCain was in the thick of a Republican primary season that eventually saw George W. Bush take his party's nomination. Many feel that Kerry's early lock on this year's race for the Democratic nomination will give Dems time to rally around their candidate, but McCain thinks the Democrats would be well advised to extend their time in the spotlight.
"I think the longer this goes on for the Democrats, the better it is for them because it's the longer they dominate the news," McCain said. "Who's been dominating the news for the last month and a half with the Democratic primary process? I'm sure that's not Kerry's view ... but it's good for them to have a longer process."
Kerry essentially wrapped up the nomination before states such as Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Oregon and Colorado had a chance to hit the polls, but McCain opposes a single national primary day, where every state would weigh in on the same day. McCain would prefer that early litmus tests in Iowa and New Hampshire retain their import in the process.
"I don't like [the idea of a national primary day]," McCain said. "I think the people of New Hampshire [and other states early in the process] take their responsibility seriously."
In fact, it's the immediacy of those races early in the primary process that McCain misses as he watches this year's race from the sidelines. "I miss it, but the thing you'd be surprised that I miss about it is the remarkable people you have a chance to see ... to have a chance to travel all across the country and meet all kinds of people: young people, old people, different ethnic groups. That's kind of what I miss more than election night where you see where you won or lost. ... But I miss the excitement of it. It's like anything else in life, you've got to put it behind you. You just move on."
For more political news, insight into the 2004 presidential election and information on registering to vote, check out Choose or Lose.