For all the obvious annoyance with too-much-too-soon 2016 coverage, there is a type of political story that should be written early and often. Candidate profiles can be far more insightful if the reporter gets out there before the media hordes. Not only is it possible to get access when Bobby Jindal or Martin O’Malley is not pursued by 40 other reporters, but also the anecdotes about these ambitious governors are apt to be fresher when long-friends and political enemies are not recycling the same quotes they gave to The Washington Post or BuzzFeed. In addition, several possible 2016 contenders like Andrew Cuomo and Mark Warner will be running for reelection in 2014, thereby enhancing the news value of early profiles.

(Dr. Politics should mention that, under a pseudonym, “Walter Shapiro,” I wrote a book on the early skirmishing for the 2004 Democratic nomination called One-Car Caravan. My logic for such early-bird journalism was that the candidates would be the same people two years before the election that they would be in the fall of 2004. The difference was that by getting out there in 2002, I could spend an entire day with John Kerry or Howard Dean without another reporter in sight. Of course, this arduous advance work did not prevent me from fatally misjudging John Edwards but that was another type of problem).

So, sadly, Politicked Out in Plattsburgh, to say that there is an off-season in presidential politics any more is like saying the Christmas selling season still kicks off when Santa is sighted at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.

The relevant standard for all 2016 articles is whether they tell you something fresh about the character, background, or policy views of possible presidential contenders. If it is just horse-race journalism, then you can freely ignore it until the leaves take on their 2015 autumnal hues in Iowa and New Hampshire. But if the story is an insightful profile about a 2016 White House dreamer, then Dr. Politics says with no embarrassment, “Bring it on.”


Walter Shapiro just chronicled his ninth presidential campaign. He writes the “Character Sketch” political column for Yahoo News. Follow him on Twitter @WalterShapiroPD.