I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m already hearing the complaints, so here we go again.

The battle for the 2016 Democratic nomination for president started some time ago.

The battle for the 2016 Republican nomination probably started during September, during the stretch where Mitt Romney was down in the polls and seemed to many to have little chance of changing that; it may have started even earlier in a less serious way, but it surely began by midnight last night, at any rate.

To be sure: both of these fights are very much in the preliminary stages. It’s very possible that the eventual nominee really hasn’t started doing anything yet, and won’t for another year or more. But some candidates are actively thinking about it, beginning to sound out staff, beginning to seek support from various party groups, beginning to judge which issues and what rhetoric will appeal to the people who will determine the nomination. And organized groups and even activists are beginning to work to make sure that their interests and preferences will be represented by the party in the next presidential election.

All that happens, whether the press (or other blogging observers) talk about it or not.

Now, we can talk about it sensibly or not…polling Iowa and New Hampshire right now is a silly stunt, not that I have any problem with it. But this is real politics, and if it’s happening — and judging from past cycles it surely is — then of course the press should cover it.

[Cross-posted at A plain blog about politics]

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Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist who writes about American politics, especially the presidency, Congress, parties, and elections.