August 9, 2007

The Christmas Caucus?

The race for states to gain more influence in the primaries has intensified in South Carolina. In a decision that may give a 2007 start to the 2008 primary race, the state has bumped the Republican primary to January 19th, which may set off a domino effect that could push the Iowa caucus into the Christmas season.

At Heading Right, I look at the reasons why this move will almost certainly force a December 2007 start to the 2008 primary race. What can we do to stop these games? We can ask the RNC and DNC to follow their rules and start punishing states who play them -- and we all know the best way to send that message.


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Comments (16)

Posted by FedUp | August 9, 2007 10:17 AM

Ah Geez!!!
When is this ME FIRST ever going to come to an end???
Why don't we have the primaries all on the same day and then we won't have all this stupidity!! That'll make the candidates crazy.. they won't be able to be in all places at one time, so they'll have to pick and choose. Then all this campaign insanity can cease!!!

That should be a law!!! How many politicians would sign up for that? Yeah, zero... that's what I thought! The incumbents are spending far too much time campaiging which takes time away from their duties in 'serving the public' (and other fairy tales.

I'm so disgusted at the way the whole process has deteriorated!

Posted by Del Dolemonte | August 9, 2007 11:05 AM

Here in New Hampshire, we have a state law that says that our primary date must always be earlier than any other state.

from AP (Gardner refers to the NH Sec. of State)

"By law, Gardner will be forced to move the New Hampshire primary to at least January 12th. Iowa then probably would move up its traditional leadoff caucuses, perhaps to as early as mid-December.

Gardner said he has not set the date of the New Hampshire primary and has no plans to do so anytime soon."

Posted by Teresa | August 9, 2007 11:42 AM

I live in SC (yeah, I know, I'm their token liberal). They love being a "decider" in these things and it has been going around for months that the GOP here was not going to cede it's position as first in the south to Florida.

I agree with those who think it is ridiculous to keep moving these things forward, but I worry about having all the primaries on the same day. That seems to me to be a way to insure that only the candidates with the most money will win rather than letting a candidate with a compelling message build their case and gain momentum.

Posted by Captain Ed | August 9, 2007 11:57 AM


I agree with you on that last point, and also on federalist grounds. The states should control when they have their elections. They should also act responsibly, rather than like petulant children who never learned to share.

Posted by starfleet_dude | August 9, 2007 12:04 PM

In caucus-related news today comes this interesting poll done by the University of Iowa:

The changes among Republican voters since March are dramatic. Romney is now the preferred candidate at 21.8 percent — double his March support.
Giuliani’s support, 10 percent, decreased by almost 8.5 percent. McCain’s support has collapsed in Iowa. His support among registered Republicans dropped from 14.4 percent in March to 1.8 percent in July-August. UI political scientists note that McCain has been passed in popularity not only by former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., who earned 5.2 percent support, but also by a Democratic challenger, Obama, who is supported by 6.7 percent of Republicans. No other candidate received more than 3 percent support.

McCain's campaign might as well fold up its tent now and go home, because it's all over for him now. A terrible showing in Iowa won't help him against Romney in New Hampshire or against Hunter in South Carolina, and McCain's strategy totally depends on doing well early.

Posted by eeyore | August 9, 2007 12:15 PM

All states should agree to a rotating system where different states go first, then rotate onto the back and the others move forward. The rotations should have no more than 10 states, both large and small, located in different sections of the country.

The primary/caucus time period would be two weeks to complete in each state. One week off, then the next slate of states and continues until all states are completed. I guess I forget about the territories as well so would have to work them in.

This would finish everything within 14 weeks. Each rotation would be first once every 20 years. No state, geographical area or political leaning would determine the nominees for long.

I am from Iowa and am already sick of the commercials that say nothing, the telephone calls that are exempt from the do-not-call registry, and the endless news stories that really do not say anything whatsoever. Being last for a cycle would be a relief I say.

Posted by FedUp | August 9, 2007 1:01 PM

Teresa, I agree with you up to a point. The politiking has started so early that most of us are hearing the same old, same old rhetoric. If there's a compelling message out there, it's being very well hidden. Make the primary back to the original 1st caucus - then, everyone should have a fair shot.

Capt. in this case, I think the gov't should meddle. The states are proving that they can't play nicely - worse that 4th graders! If nothing else, there should be something that prohibits actual camPAINing this early, especially by those who are holding an elected office.

Posted by Teresa | August 9, 2007 2:09 PM

In some ways it would be nice to be from a state that WASN"T an early primary state -- maybe we would be spared all the commercials and stuff for awhile. I've been surprised though in SC that the only ads/signage I've seen has been for Romney.
(All for naught since my Baptist friends are more likely to vote for Hillary than for a Mormon -- not defending that, just saying it is what it is. The signs are all in public places, road sides and such, none in anyone's yard.)

Posted by Ray | August 9, 2007 2:40 PM

At this rate, it will be only a few decades until the first presidential primary is held the day after the general election. Why wait two or three years? Have your primary four years before the general election and beat the crowd. It's the New Wave in politics!

Posted by km | August 9, 2007 4:21 PM

eeyore - That would only work if the Presidential primaries were separated from the primaries for all the other offices (Senate / House / State / State Legislature / County etc.).

That would then mena that states would have the work and expense of running another election every other year.

Posted by Adjoran | August 9, 2007 5:32 PM

The only way to resolve this problem is by agreement among the states. I believe eeyore has the general framework for such a deal above.

We're going to have to let Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina stay at the front, though - they will never agree to a deal that doesn't. I suggest we add Nevada to the early list, so we have a small, "retail politics" state from each region of the country at the beginning of the primary season. This would enable lesser-known candidates to have a chance to make their case, although of course money will always talk, and fairly loudly.

The rest of the states should go into a rotation beginning with the second Tuesday in February. For the next 16 weeks, hold primaries. An average of three states will be each week, and from the last spot they move to the first weekend, the first moves to the second, etc.

Since the schedule, once agreed, would be known for years in advance, states could adjust their own primaries to match the Presidential dates and avoid doubling their expenses.

If we can't get an agreement on this or some similar plan, I fear we may be destined for The Permanent Campaign.

Posted by eeyore | August 9, 2007 7:42 PM


Since all of the states know what position they are in and the dates the presidential primary/caucus takes place, they can certainly schedule their own to the same dates as they do now. I don't see how this will require a second election. I would also like these to occur later in the year instead of starting so early.

Someone elsewhere complained that candidates would have to rely on staff for many of the states. From history, most early Presidential races did not have the candidates themselves campaign. Staff and supporters supplied most of the local effort as well as very biased media.

Really, what have the "debates" or most of the media really told us about the candidates' stances? Most just have practiced with the staff and respond with canned answers. You might as well get this direct from the staff anyhow.

The Internet should allow the candidate to truly explain the vision for the country and detail the processes to attain it. I haven't seen too many sites that give us this about any of them.

But, please take the first in the nation status from Iowa. I have received 15 calls this past week from candidates and polling companies. Romney has called 5 times with the same message. That is begining to tick me off.

Where I live, the local stations cover Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. The commercials will be running all the way to the election for me.

Posted by Del Dolemonte | August 9, 2007 8:25 PM

Adjoran said:

"We're going to have to let Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina stay at the front, though - they will never agree to a deal that doesn't."

That's because they have had their traditions for many years. That New Hampshire law I mentioned earlier mandating that their primary has to be automatically earlier than any other state's in fact has been around for many decades.

Posted by Hayden | August 10, 2007 6:56 AM

I can't imagine the networks and their advertisers wanting to televise Primaries politics during the holiday viewing season. In addition to the assundried holiday specials, you have the college bowl games and the NFL play-offs. My guess is that they either reach a compramise for mid to late January, or move them to mid November.

Posted by FedUp | August 10, 2007 12:22 PM

I'm of the opinion that we have one primary - get the misery over and doen with - then the finger pointing can start which will also deteriorate into more mudslinging... like who stole the nomination from whom.

What happens when another state enacts a state law that THEY have to be first... get the popcorn...

Posted by FedUp | August 10, 2007 12:24 PM

PS... why not do away with the primaries and just throw ALL the candidates into the election? Scary, ain't it?

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