If so, the luxury of taking one's time with picking a favorite GOP candidate is about to go away:
In a bombshell this afternoon, New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner raised the strong possibility of a December first-in-the-nation presidential primary.
In a statement entitled “Why New Hampshire's Primary Tradition is Important,” Gardner, who has full authority under state law to set the date of the presidential primary, called Dec. 13 and Dec. 6 “realistic options.”
New Hampshire is blaming Nevada, which has decided to move its GOP primary up to January 14th, largely because Nevada is tired of having Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina always be first in the primary schedule. New Hampshire wants Nevada to push it back to January 17th, and Nevada's saying that it won't, and at least one candidate - who isn't Mitt Romney* - is totally taking New Hamphire's side, and... OK, look, it's high school all over again, you understand? God help me for having to describe this dispute in such terms, but it's the best analogy that fits.
So. This means that the nomination process may start in six weeks, not ten. Mind you, ten weeks is also too early - but we've been watching the process stretch out for some time now. The primary season in 2008 started at the beginning of January; in 2004, it started in mid-January; in 2000, late January; and in the halcyon days of the Eighties and Nineties the whole thing started up in February. I have not noticed that the Republic has been notably improved by having the dates get pushed back earlier and earlier; I have noticed that we're not exactly adding new states to the Union these days, which means that there tends to be longer and longer times each election cycle between the last primary contest and the national conventions that traditionally remind the American people that, right, we're electing a President this year.
I'm not going to tell you how or who to vote for in the Republican primaries, folks: but if you're planning to be strategic about it then I have to tell you that you're almost out of time to play strategist. If you want Candidate X - or, more likely, you just don't want Candidate Y - then you need to be dispassionate about what that entails, and you need to not assume that the Lord will provide. The Lord has already provided; what you see is what you've got to work with. And you have a tighter deadline than you think.
On the bright side, if you're supporting Candidate X for ideological/philosophical reasons, you could care less when New Hampshire has its primary anyway. Lucky you.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
PS: Let me just forestall a likely response: yes, it would undoubtedly be better all around if Candidate Z conceded the inevitable and dropped out of the race now. Candidate Z will not drop out. The problem still remains.
*Mitt Romney benefits from early primaries, mostly because his primary... primary... strategy is to offer Republican voters an echo, not a choice. Actually, his primary primary strategy is to offer as many echoes as possible and hope that Father Unemployment Rate wins Romney's war for him in the general election.