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Iowa And New Hampshire Less Important Than They Used To Be? Not Really

Campaign 2016

Taegan Goddard posits that the size of the Republican field this year, which hit at least sixteen before the first debate, as well as changes in the way candidates reach voters could mark the beginning of the end of Iowa and New Hampshire as the traditional winnowers of the Presidential field:

The presidential race is a marathon. But without victories early on, few candidates have had the resources to compete until the end. That’s why so many candidates drop out after a poor showing in the Iowa caucuses, as both Joe Biden and Chris Dodd did in 2008. Without the springboard of an early-state success, long-term victory becomes all but hopeless.

That might be changing. Indeed, it looks like Iowa and New Hampshire might be supplanted this year. The new presidential power brokers? Fox News and, to a lesser extent, the other television networks.

With at least 14 Republicans officially running for president, and at least two more on the way, Fox News has a plan to limit participation in the first GOP debate, scheduled for August 6. Only the top 10 candidates in an average of the national polls will be allowed to participate. You could be a U.S. senator or governor of a major state, but if you don’t make the cut you don’t get a podium on the stage.

This winnowing of the GOP presidential field — which is normally handled by the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary — is instead being done by television and national polls instead.

As a result, the candidates are already dramatically changing their strategies to run a national primary campaign so that they do well in the national polls that will decide their debate fate. Instead of visiting Iowa diners and holding New Hampshire town hall meetings, the candidates are making sure they get on national television. For Republicans, this means Fox News.

(…)

Allowing states like Iowa and New Hampshire an outsized role in determining the presidential candidates was never ideal. Both states are unrepresentative of the nation as a whole. But the system did allow a glimpse into how the White House hopefuls handled themselves in intimate campaign settings with real voters.

That’s no longer possible if the presidential campaign is waged primarily in television studios and in closed-door fundraising events with wealthy donors.

I am right there with Goddard when it comes to criticizing the absurdly outsized importance that Iowa and New Hampshire play in the Presidential nomination process for both parties. As has been noted innumerable times before, neither one of these states can be said in any way to be representative of the national electorate for either party, and certainly not representative of the electorate that typically shows up for a General Election in a Presidential year. The situation is made even more absurd by the fact that Iowa chooses to conduct caucuses rather than a primary, which as I’ve noted before leads to far less voter participation, disenfranchises people who can’t be in the state on the day of the caucuses, and generally leads to victories by candidates who appeal to a narrow ideological base or a home state/neighboring state sentiment. New Hampshire, with its open primaries, is somewhat better than Iowa in this respect, but still has historically had far more influence on the nomination than is justified by its size or its similarity to the demographics of the nation. Ideally, these two states would not have the influence they do over the process and primaries would be scheduled in some sort of regional format that would allow for a wider group of voters to have a say in candidate selection early in the process. For many reasons, though, not the least of them being that scheduling primaries is something that remains firmly in control of state parties and state legislatures, that’s not likely to happen any time soon.

But what of Goddard’s hypothesis, is it really true that Iowa and New Hampshire are losing the influence that they once had when it comes to determining who the candidates that “live” and “die” early in the process are? The short answer is that it’s undeniable that the process has changed and that national news coverage plays a far bigger role in primary fights than it used to, but the early primaries are still the first real test in front of voters, and that matters for something.

Goddard is right in his observation that, at least this early in the process, the Republican candidates are more concerned with their standing in national polls than they are with the vicissitudes of Iowa and New Hampshire. This year, that’s largely the case because the field of candidates is larger than the available spots in the first round of Presidential debates which start one month from today. At least in the short term, the candidates who manage to get into the top ten in the national polls over the next three weeks or so will be the ones who get the expanded coverage that will come with appearing in debates on Fox News Channel and CNN next month. Apparently, there will be some kind of “consolation” round for the candidate who don’t make the cut at CNN, but the odds are that whatever program that is will not get nearly the viewership or the coverage of the debate itself. For many of these candidate, failure to make these early debates or those that follow will likely be quite damaging to their campaigns. I suspect that in the months between August 2015 and February 2016 when voting actually starts, we will several of these candidates drop out, and others simply fade away into irrelevance.

This really isn’t anything new, though. We saw much the same thing in during the 2012 cycle when the period from August 2011 to the beginning of the voting in January 2012 saw Tim Pawlenty, Herman Cain, and Gary Johnson all drop out of the GOP race before a single vote was cast. So, there was a winnowing before Iowa then, and there will be another, probably bigger, winnowing before Iowa this time. Just as in 2012, though, that doesn’t mean that the results in Iowa and New Hampshire, as well as South Carolina, Nevada, and Florida, aren’t going to cause the field to shrink even further. In 2012, the results in Iowa and New Hampshire caused Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and John Huntsman to all drop out of the race because disappointing performances, leaving a contest between Mitt Romney and a erstwhile challengers Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. This time, we’re likely to come out the first two states with more candidates still “viable” than four years ago, but there will still likely be a winnowing. If candidates like Chris Christie, John Kaisch, George Pataki, Rick Perry, Cary Fiorna, and Ben Carson, for example, don’t break out in either of those states then it’s hard to see how they can maintain a credible campaign. Donors will start to look for candidates who actually seem to have a shot at winning the nomination, reporters will be paying less attention to people who are the bottom of the polls, and voters will barely be considering them in deciding who to vote for in the primaries that follow the first big four contests. Some candidates may hold out longer than others, but in the end after February we’re likely to see the Republican race reduced to a handful of viable candidates, probably no more than four out of the current sixteen.

As much as I would like to say that Iowa and New Hampshire are becoming irrelevant, reality says otherwise.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    I think you both missed the essential point.

    Winnowing happens when money runs out. It used to be that a poor performance in Iowa and New Hampshire meant your donor base moved on.

    But thanks to the Supreme Court, voters have far less impact on money and thus winnowing. Any random billionaire can keep his pet poodle in the race for as long as he likes. He may decide his new dog isn’t doing well enough to justify continuing to lay down bets, but when you’ve got billions, and your real goal is to push some agenda, why not continue to supply your little Marco or Scott or Rick with enough kibble to stay in?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  2. @michael reynolds:

    Well yes, as I said, it has changed. Largely because of the fact that there’s now a 365/24/7 media covering these races for months before anyone actually starts voting. So call it a first-stage media winnowing and a second-stage winnowing in February. I would suggest, though, that absent the political media culture we live in today, many of the people running in both parties would not even have set their foot in the race.

    And the Supreme Court cases have nothing to do with it, really, because they dealt issues that have nothing to do with the SuperPACs that many of these candidates are now able to rely on.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I am right there with Goddard when it comes to criticizing the absurdly outsized importance that Iowa and New Hampshire play in the Presidential nomination process for both parties. As has been noted innumerable times before, neither one of these states can be said in any way to be representative of the national electorate for either party, and certainly not representative of the electorate that typically shows up for a General Election in a Presidential year.

    Waaaaaaaaaahh! Doug, put this complaint in the “So What” file as it as old the electoral process which is what it is because the parties like it this way, and as pointless as complaining about taxes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  4. Paul Hooson says:

    Republicans candidates still need to be mindful while these are important first contests for their nomination, no Republican is likely to best Hillary in a November matchup in either state. I expect Jeb Bush to quickly sew-up his nomination, and Trump to quickly quit the race despite some strong second place finishes. Rubio will attract some attention, but not win either…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  5. James Pearce says:

    “The new presidential power brokers? Fox News and, to a lesser extent, the other television networks.”

    It’s somewhat ironic that a party that often decries the influence of television networks would allow them such out-sized influence.

    Sure, Fox News is friendly territory, but maybe this is not a good idea despite that fact.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  6. stonetools says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    And the Supreme Court cases have nothing to do with it, really, because they dealt issues that have nothing to do with the SuperPACs that many of these candidates are now able to rely on.

    I think those Supreme Court cases have a lot to do with the fact that those Super PACs can tap into unlimited funding from anonymous corporate donors, so sorry, but Citizens United does have a lot to do with this. How do you think the Koch Brothers are really funding little Scottie?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  7. Lit3Bolt says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Winnowing also happens from exhaustion. For the people in the race simply to raise their media profile, I’m wondering what cost-benefit metrics they are using.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. michael reynolds says:

    @Lit3Bolt:

    Well, I made the point the other day that willingly enduring 16 months of Red Roof Inns and delivered pizza and shaking the hands of every moron you can find is clear evidence of a mental disorder. For me it would be pretty simple. A 1% chance of being POTUS weighed against 16 months living like an animal? You’d have to raise the odds to at least 33%, maybe more like 40%.

    Even then I don’t think I’d do it because only a damned fool would want the job to begin with. I’m not that desperate for attention. I’m not a Chihuahua. The hours suck, everyone hates you, you have to talk to Congress people, and frankly the pay isn’t that great. I make more than POTUS working three hours a day. I’d have to be mental to take that gig.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  9. James Pearce says:

    @stonetools:

    How do you think the Koch Brothers are really funding little Scottie?

    It may turn out that Citizens United provided the conditions for unscrupulous con men to defraud credulous billionaires.

    I think that it’s rather obvious that’s happening on the Republican side. 14 political teams in the race? Most of them know they have no prayer of reaching the White House or even competing for the nomination.

    But they have incentive to run. Citizens United provided incentive to run. It does not provide incentive to win.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  10. MarkedMan says:

    @James Pearce: James, you make a good point about con men, but I think you are pointing the finger at the wrong guys. I would be willing to bet a good chunk of money that the con men are the professional campaign staff and associated infrastructure companies and individuals. They find a politician or businessman with an inordinately sized self image and start paring them with rich idiots. They blow a Constant stream of BS and authorize secret inside polls that point to a convoluted path to victory and keep it up till the money runs out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  11. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:

    But they have incentive to run. Citizens United provided incentive to run. It does not provide incentive to win.

    Well put and I wish I’d done so. The billionaires can keep their pet out there yapping away about Israel or Cuba or brown people fouling our precious bodily fluids or whatever other bug is up the billionaire’s ass. The candidate is in effect an employee. And that could largely diminish New Hampshire’s ability to winnow, not to mention taking the GOP message off in unprofitable tangents.

    I’d guess that after New Hampshire and even after South Carolina we’ll still have 10 or more candidates, hopefully including Trump if he doesn’t take the Perot Crazy Door exit. 10 white males answering questions about just how they’d go about rounding up the brown people. 10 white males trying desperately to squirm past questions on abortion and income inequality. 10 white males attacking Hillary.

    Once during my brief stay in college I was to be in a debate. I forget the issue, but the prof had six guys wanting to debate me, which he felt was unfair so he tried to push more guys onto my side. I said no way. One against six is much easier than one against one. When it’s one against six you get to pick which argument you want to respond to, you get to define the opposition.

    Hillary will be able to pick which idiot sound bite she wants to respond to. And at the same time she’ll be able to wave them all off with some joke, and people will accept it because they’ll see the apparent (but not real) impossibility of dealing with an entire baseball team of candidates.

    They’ll be a wall of angry white male noise, choleric guys in suits, each trying with increasing desperation to get through to voters who have nine other guys to consider. Imagine Jeb still polling at a shaky 20-25% coming out of SC, no consensus in sight. Imagine the desperation of his team. It’s a political wet dream.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  12. Lit3Bolt says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The billionaires can keep their pet out there yapping away about Israel or Cuba or brown people fouling our precious bodily fluids or whatever other bug is up the billionaire’s ass. The candidate is in effect an employee.

    Holy crap that’s it. Cheap PR. Deferential, fawning coverage of conservative ideas that are regularly laughed at in broader society.

    Whether it’s Huckabee’s Diabetes Cure-All or Trump’s No-Hispanic Maid Hotels or Dr. Ben Carson’s new book Heaven is REALLY For Real: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey or Carly Fiorina’s plea for somebody, anybody to hire her, most of these “candidates” have something to sell or are wanting a media sinecure.

    IMO, here are the serious R candidates:

    Frontrunners:

    Jeb!
    Walker
    Rubio

    Outliers:
    Perry
    Christie
    Santorum
    Pataki
    Kaisch

    Media hounds:
    Cruz
    Grahm
    Jindal
    Paul

    Clowns:
    Trump
    Fiorina
    Carson
    Huckabee

    If Jeb was savvy, I’d been in talks with Rand Paul. He probably wouldn’t mind being VP.

    Walker and Rubio certainly look like they might be natural allies depending on who comes out ahead. Both are young enough to wait out some terms as VP if necessary.

    It’s hard to see what the other outliers bring to the table. Kaisch isn’t really popular in Ohio, but may be able to monkey up enough support to swing the state. Santorum could guarantee some of the Christian Right vote. Pataki…lol. Same for Cruz, Perry and Christie.

    Of course, all of this is academic if Republicans can’t reliably lock down Florida and Ohio. They have to win both states for a realistic shot at victory.

    And as I like to remind my Dem friends who say, “Barring a Clinton meltdown…” Well, the Clinton campaign certainly melted down in 2008.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. An Interested Party says:

    Leave it to a libertarian to put forth the ridiculous argument that, in the wake of Citizens United, it is the 24/7 news cycle that causes political losers to hang around longer than they otherwise would rather than enormous gobs of money having anything to do with it…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  14. michael reynolds says:

    @Lit3Bolt:
    Yeah, I can’t really argue with your list. Interesting that you rate Santorum so high. I do as well just because he’s at least sincere in his complete misunderstanding of reality. That’s got to count for something.

    I think Hillary learns. I haven’t heard of Mark Penn showing up again. I only worry about her health. If she stays healthy and the GOP acts like the GOP we’ve got this. If Jeb gets hold of the situation early somehow we could have a bit of a fight. The only other guy who worries me is Kasich. Rubio’s a squirt. Walker’s slimy and dumb.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds:

    They’ll be a wall of angry white male noise, choleric guys in suits, each trying with increasing desperation to get through to voters who have nine other guys to consider. Imagine Jeb still polling at a shaky 20-25% coming out of SC, no consensus in sight.

    And that’s after it’s been winnowed by Foxnews/CNN.

    Part of the problem for Republicans is that they have no wind in their sails. What accomplishments can they point to over the last 8 years? None. They’ve been little more than sand in the gears and yet the gears still keep on turning.

    What do they want to do? Undo Obamacare? Go to battle for religious exceptions? Invade Iraq again? Hey, at least the fiscal nightmares in some VERY red states has curbed the appetite for cutting taxes, at least for this cycle. But what do they stand for?

    White people?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  16. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:

    No, they got nothing.

    However, neither do we, really. We’re running on fumes and we only look good because those idiots are rolling backward down the hill. We’ve been the party of liberation since the 60’s and we’re down now to trans rights. We need a new agenda. Hillary will run and likely win on things like day care and equal pay, but that’s just momentum, not a real target.

    But I may be suffering a bit from an androcentric. I may be missing the wave. But part of me thinks we should be looking at organizing, at unions. It’s the obvious counterweight to big business. It’s a tool to use on income disparity.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  17. de stijl says:

    @James Pearce:

    But what do they stand for?

    White people?

    Hey! That systemic and institutionalized advantage isn’t going to preserve itself, is it? (Actually, it will….)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  18. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds:

    We’ve been the party of liberation since the 60’s and we’re down now to trans rights.

    Ha! Good thing they lumped themselves in with the LGBs.

    I mean, yes, obviously, gay rights are going to be something to fight for, although with each victory it becomes less about “gay rights” and more about rights. But there are other fights. Income inequality will be a big one, I think. I’m not sure how unionization will play into it though.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. Lit3Bolt says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I thought about it but as you said, Santorum gets a bump because he’s consistently crazy. Despite getting hammered in the worst Senate loss in 25 years, he still has a decent national profile and is considered a good culture warrior. Pro-life, anti-gay marriage, a good little drug warrior, anti-climate change, and has compared the ACA to South African apartheid. WIth his wife, has exploited their Trisomy 18 child for political and financial gain. But hey…consistent.

    A Santorum VP slot would reassure a lot of the GOP voters that whoever was in the top slot is “a true Christian.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  20. Lit3Bolt says:

    @James Pearce:

    There’s plenty of slogans leftover from the last Gilded Age.

    “A Fair Day’s Pay For a Fair Day’s Work”

    “8 hours for work, 8 hours for sleep, 8 hours for what we will”

    “An Injury to One is an Injury to All”

    “No Gods, No Masters”

    There’s been simmerings of stuff like this: Occupy and the “Rent Is Too Damn High” candidate come to mind…but the 2009 bailout was too much of a free pass for the financial terrorists.

    The Democrats should dive headlong into the fight for higher wages and supports like universal childcare and pre-K. The fact that a lot of retailers are already trying to preempt the movement by raising wages already is a tell.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  21. ernieyeball says:

    …scheduling primaries is something that remains firmly in control of state parties and state legislatures,..

    Let us assume that for the good of the United States electorate, all the state political parties and state legislatures have agreed to relinquish their provincial hold on these affairs and allowed the Federal government to structure some sort of national primary system. One day to vote on all the candidates, several regional super primaries, whatever.
    Lets also assume our new federally mandated method of electing delegates to national political party conventions is up and running January 1, 2016.
    How does this insure that the names on these super primary ballots will be of citizens of a higher moral caliber and purer ethic than the current crop of POTUS wannabees?
    (Please spare me the “It can’t get any worse” cliché. It always can.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  22. superdestroyer says:

    Trying to make conclusions about primaries by looking at an irrelevant political party that has no chance of winning makes no sense.

    If Bernie sanders manages to win a significant portion of the delegates in Iowa or actually win in New Hampshire, then the argument that the first primaries do no matter will be wrong. However, is Ms. Clinton wins Iowa and New Hampshire in a rout, then the Democratic primaries will effectively be over and everyone will know who the next president will be 10 months before the inaugural.

    Maybe after the Republicans lose in a rout in 2016 and the Democrats regain control of the Senate, a few more people will notice the trend to the U.S. being a one party state and the importance of demographics and block voting instead of repeating tired talking points about money (the most overrated thing in politics) billionaires, or Fox News.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  23. humanoid.panda says:

    @stonetools:

    I think those Supreme Court cases have a lot to do with the fact that those Super PACs can tap into unlimited funding from anonymous corporate donors, so sorry, but Citizens United does have a lot to do with this. How do you think the Koch Brothers are really funding little Scottie?

    This is a pet peeve, but the whole corporations are people my friends is somewhat of a red herring. The problem in the Super-Pac universe is not that corporations are buying politicians- it’s that individual billionaires do.

    However, no matter how much Doug denies it, the Super PACs are a direct product of Citizens United:
    “Super PACs, officially known as “independent-expenditure only committees,” may not make contributions to candidate campaigns or parties, but may engage in unlimited political spending independently of the campaigns. Unlike traditional PACs, they can raise funds from individuals, corporations, unions, and other groups without any legal limit on donation size.[18]

    Super PACs were made possible by two judicial decisions: the aforementioned Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and, two months later, Speechnow.org v. FEC. In Speechnow.org, the federal Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held that PACs that did not make contributions to candidates, parties, or other PACs could accept unlimited contributions from individuals, unions, and corporations (both for profit and not-for-profit) for the purpose of making independent expenditures”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_action_committee#Super_PACs

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  24. Tyrell says:

    @Paul Hooson: Well, Sanders keeps moving up, getting huge crowds with his middle class/seniors platform. This is Hillary’s to lose, and that may well happen if she keeps playing it safe with generic, boring, please everyone, offend no one, reacting rather than making the action statements and interviews. Her campaign so far has been fine, if you enjoy Oprahesque talk.

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  25. de stijl says:

    If we have regional primaries as the first out of the gate contests, then the presumed front runner, the boys and girls with the big war chests are always going to win.

    The winnowed will always be screwed: Iowa and New Hampshire are the designated Winnowers, but the folks who drop out result would be essentially the same no matter where the first primary / caucus takes place.

    Where IA and NH matter is the ordering of the first tier. But it really shouldn’t.

    Everyone should bake into their analysis that IA is a caucus state and all that implies. That the R voters in IA is more religiously oriented than the nation as a whole. That NH is a quasi-open primary. That NH is quite establishment-oriented more so than the nationwide R primary voters. Both states are more white and more rural than the nation as a whole.

    That the media and the voters overvalue IA and NH results more than they should is not Iowa’s and New Hampshire’s doing nor their fault. It is ours. If it were any two other states, we’d still over-react. The over-reaction is our fault, not theirs.

    The winnowed will always be the winnowed no matter where the “First In The Nation” happens.

    But the winners get a big leg up. They shouldn’t, but they do. It’s easier to vote for the “winner.”

    If Clinton had won Iowa in 2008, we would be looking at the tail end of the Hillary’s second term (there was no way that any R – even zombie Reagan – could have won in 2008). She’d won every national poll until Obama won Iowa. No Iowa = no Obama. It would have cemented her “front runner” status (Clinton was beating Obama by 10+ in NH until Obama won Iowa – she ended up winning by 2 and that was considered a comeback win mainly due to her effective media appearances.)

    Would Obama have won a multi-state primary as Doug envisions? All things being equal, a kick-off super-primary would have given us a HRC front-runner with a lead that would have been almost impossible to overcome.

    In 2008, Iowa chose the underdog, and it bent the perception of the nation. Had The First In The Nation been SC and they had voted for Edwards, it would most likely also have changed the way we evaluated Edwards.

    How the First In The Nation vote is not the problem. What is the problem is how all of the rest of us overreact to how The First In The Nation vote.

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  26. ernieyeball says:

    That the media and the voters overvalue IA and NH results more than they should is not Iowa’s and New Hampshire’s doing nor their fault. It is ours.

    As near as I can tell the date for Iowa caucus’s is set by the political parties involved.
    http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/the-date-of-the-2016-iowa-caucus-is-set-for-now-20140825
    Also it looks like the New Hampshire primary date can be adjusted “(to) take place at least seven days before any “similar election” in any other state.” per state law.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Hampshire_primary
    Since the Iowa Republicans and Democrats represent Iowans and the New Hampshire legislature represents the denizens of the Granite State it would appear that voters in those states have some responsibility for the timing of these events.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  27. de stijl says:

    @ernieyeball:

    I’m not really sure how that takes away from my point. You’re offering a counter-argument to something that I wasn’t saying.

    Obviously, Iowa and New Hampshire love and use the First In The Nation status to their advantage. It is a windfall, especially for the local television stations. It is a gold-mine.

    To your point, both have state laws that (kinda sorta) ensure that they will retain their First In The Nation advantage. The national parties have applied a small amount of pressure to change the situation, but they haven’t pushed that hard. There is reason they haven’t pushed that hard to change the situation.

    Perhaps I undersold my idea.

    What I was trying to say is that wherever the first vote happens, it will be over-analyzed and over-valued. Where that first vote happens is not the point, our tendency to over-value those first results is our collective problem.

    The main purpose of the first states is winnowing out the chaff.

    But unfortunately, the winners of those first states also get covered as the de facto front-runners. That we as Americans (the journalists and readers and future voters) make a bigger deal about the winners in Iowa and New Hampshire than we should is our fault, not Iowa’s or New Hampshire’s. No matter where the the kick-off happens, we would make a bigger deal of it than it means in the long term.

    My point is that the winnowing will always happen and will happen with the same basic results no matter where the first primary caucus / primary happens. (There may be a few favorite sons or daughters that survive that first week, but when the attention moves to SC and NV or wherever, they’ll get crushed like they should and drop out. Loser candidates are losers everywhere except for their hometown. Mike Gravel was never going to be President.)

    If the kick-off event in 2008 was a Super Tuesday-like event, then the little guy / gal has a much smaller chance of breaking through. If the 2008 kick-off was a super regional or multi-state event, Clinton would have won the Democratic nomination. Obama would be a footnote.

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  28. de stijl says:

    @ernieyeball:

    You quoted this:

    That the media and the voters overvalue IA and NH results more than they should is not Iowa’s and New Hampshire’s doing nor their fault. It is ours.

    and responded with:

    As near as I can tell the date for Iowa caucus’s is set by the political parties involved….

    Since the Iowa Republicans and Democrats represent Iowans and the New Hampshire legislature represents the denizens of the Granite State it would appear that voters in those states have some responsibility for the timing of these events.

    Why did I spend a half hour politely responding to you?

    Sorry I was passive-aggressive. I should have been aggressive-aggressive.

    You could have not missed my point more if you tried.

    If it were any two other states, we’d still over-react. The over-reaction is our fault, not theirs.

    That is not an ambiguous statement.

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  29. ernieyeball says:

    @de stijl:..Why did I spend a half hour politely responding to you?

    Beats me. Why did ya?

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  30. de stijl says:

    @ernieyeball:

    Beats me. Why did ya?

    Someone was wrong on the internet. Grr! 😉

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