We're fast approaching either a resolution or a confrontation as to the final schedule for GOP presidential primaries. Arizona has already moved up its date, Michigan wants to go earlier, as does Florida. The RNC supposedly will penalize ANY state that goes out of turn with a loss of votes at the convention. Since the convention is in Tampa next year..well, the odds that Florida will lose votes are about the same as Buddy Roehmer getting the nomination. And Florida of course provides "cover" for any other state that goes rogue. Since Florida won't lose delegates, neither will any other state. ( Of course, they can look forward to hotel rooms in beautiful downtown Ocala..)
But seriously..why go through this hassle every four years? Call it states rights..whatever, but maybe it's time for the RNC to just let the states do whatever feels best for their needs.
This is all about the supposed need for the early three to retain that sequence.: Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. But why? Iowa is a caucus...turnout is much lower than a primary..and many aren't able to vote because of other demands..like showing up at work. Iowa's "success rate" as a predictor of the ultimate nominee is better tha Bob Shrum's winning percentage..but that's not saying much. Iowa..the straw poll, the caucus..it's more like spring training for the political chattering class..Yes, it makes mucho $$$ for the Iowa GOP..but that's not a determinative reason to be first.
New Hampshire is, well..in one word..quirky. Demographically, the state bears little or no resemblance to the rest of the country. And again..well..just look at past winners in NH. Duh? A small, rural state, the voters there apparently feel it's their inalienable right to personally have a cup of coffee with each any every person who's running. But why should the rest of the party, and the country have to defer to New Hampshire's inflated sense of self importance?
South Carolina is a different story. The GOP base is the south, the solid south, and S. Carolina is the first chance to see which candidate resonates, connects with that core Republican constituency. The state is small enough, and rural enough to provide a forum for retail politics, and the media costs are not prohibitive, so you don't need a whole lot of $$$ to be a player. It's the first real test of what the party base thinks.
Of course, if any other states do in fact move their primary dates up, Iowa and New Hampshire will play leapfrog. So the likely effect is that we'll be voting in December, maybe even Thanksgiving time. And what would be so bad about that? South Carolina, then Florida would follow, nd if Michigan, Arizona, and a few others, want to jump in also, why not?
We'd probably have a pretty clear idea of the favorite well in advance of Super Tuesday. And that's a good thing...because Super Tuesday is more about mone and organization than anything else. With an early, accelerated primary schedule, there's more of a chance for an inspirational conservative, not one of the early conventional wisdom favorites, to resonate with the voters of a few states, and then run the table.
Look at the debate in Tampa early this week. We have far to many candidates still on the stage..no one is culling the herd. And we have several debates more to endure. We'd be far better served as a party, and a country, if we accelerated the process, picked our nominee sooner, then focused all our resources and efforts on beating Obama.
Also, I should point out that if we had an accelerated process already in place, then Sarah Palin would have had to finally declare, or not, several weeks earlier. We would all be better off had that occured.
To slightly digress for a moment, rather than worrying about who gets to go 1st, 2nd, etc..the RNC would be far better served encouraging states to eliminate open primaries. There is nothing "democratic" about allowing MoveOn.org members to help decide a GOP nominee. Rush Limbaugh, in his brilliant 2008 "Operation Chaos" showed that it debases the process of picking our nominee. The primary process is the first beat of the democratic heart..we should encourage all to take it seriously.
So, it's time for the RNC to let the chips fallwhere they may, let the several states do what they choose...hold their primaries at they best see fit. I think it will work out just fine..