Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Who's Happy with a the Parties' Tentative Outline of a Primary Calendar for 2012?

Well, the early states, of course.

In New Hampshire, they are taking the news that the state will be spared its customary quadrennial battle over its first-in-the-nation primary status with a grain of salt. To Granite stater residents being exempt by the parties to hold a February primary while everyone else (except Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina) goes after the beginning of March, but...
First, it’s only 2009 and anything could happen. President Barack Obama didn’t win New Hampshire last year, so his loyalty to the local cause may not be as urgent as we would like. It’s possible too, of course, that he has other things on his mind. Additionally, who knows which late-calendar state is quietly plotting against us? Remember Michigan? Remember Delaware? Challenges to New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation status can come from anywhere at any time, regardless of what the party leaders are saying today.
I don't know that I buy the "Obama didn't win here, so he might not care one way or the other about our primary status" logic. The president will need New Hampshire in the general election in 2012. [It is one of only three states that flipped sides between 2000 and 2004, after all. New Hampshire is likely to be competitive.] And the Democratic Change Commission has not even considered stripping the Granite state's of its distinction. In most years, there has at least been some discussion of why New Hampshire, and that was true of the Change Commission's discussion as well. However, that action was never a vital part of the mission of the group. Now, it could be that the Democratic Rules and Bylaws Committee looks at the Change Commission's recommendations and decides that New Hampshire and the other exempt states are too favored when they decide on the rules for 2012 over the summer, but there is absolutely no indication that that is going to happen.

On the second point, all FHQ has to add is what we have been saying all along. For there to be true reform of the primary process or at least meaningful sanctions for rules violators, the parties will have to coordinate their efforts and represent a united front. This is something New Hampshire and its citizens should be highly interest in. Both parties are letting the New Hampshire/Iowa question slide for this cycle, and as such, the only real threats to the Granite state's status are rogues states like Florida and Michigan. And even if the parties cannot offer a cohesive rules regime on the 2012 presidential nominations, the Granite state still has the easiest time of shifting its primary date as any other state. The secretary of state, Bill Gardner, has the ability to place the primary wherever he wishes while most other primary states have to get such a change through the state legislature and past the governor -- something that is easier said than done.

But New Hampshire isn't the only early state with its eyes on the 2012 calendar rule-making. South Carolina is also keeping watch (...and also, like their Granite state brethren, taking the early news of the 2012 rules with a grain of salt).

Recent Posts:
USA Today Presidential Approval Tracker is Now in FHQ's Side Bar

Public Policy Polling: December 2009 Presidential Trial Heats In Depth

The Links (12/10/09)


Robert said...

It comes back to the parties and their sanctions. Florida was pivotal in 2008. The Democrat sanctions held and that probably cost Hilary Clinton the nomination (at least in the mind of David Plouffe). The Republicans sanctions did not hold and it proved decisive for John McCain. The importance of this matter becomes clear when you realize that we could be talking about a Clinton, McCain or even Romney Administration right now instead of Obama if Florida had been handled differently in 2008!

Josh Putnam said...


If 2008 taught us anything it was that the rules can matter, especially when the nomination races are close.