Front-Loaded Primary Schedule

The primary season has just started. It is almost over.

Earlier this morning, I made an offhand reference to a Democratic nominating process that’s “more front-loaded than ever.” It’s a point worth emphasizing.

Here’s what the calendar looks like:

Monday, Feb. 3 — Iowa caucuses (49 delegates) 
Tuesday, Feb. 11 — New Hampshire primaries (33 delegates) 
Saturday, Feb. 22 — Nevada Democratic caucuses (48 delegates) 
Saturday, Feb. 29 — South Carolina Democratic primaries (63 delegates) 
Super Tuesday, March 3 — Alabama primaries (59 delegates), Arkansas primaries (36 delegates), California primaries (495 primaries), Colorado primaries (80 delegates), Maine primaries (32 delegates), Massachusetts primaries (114 delegates), Minnesota primaries (91 delegates), North Carolina primaries (122 delegates), Oklahoma primaries (42 delegates), Tennessee primaries (73 delegates), Texas primaries (262 delegates), Utah primaries (35 delegates), Vermont primaries (23 delegates), Virginia Democratic primary (124 delegates)
Tuesday, March 10 — Idaho primaries (25 delegates), Michigan primaries (147 delegates), Mississippi primaries (41 delegates), Missouri primaries (178), North Dakota caucuses (18 delegates), Washington primaries (107 delegates) 
Tuesday, March 17 — Arizona Democratic primary (78 delegates), Florida primaries (248 delegates), Illinois primaries (184 delegates), Ohio primaries (153 delegates)  
The final primaries take place in June. The Democratic convention is slated for July 13-16 in Milwaukee. 

Despite the quadrennial fever dreams of the political press of a brokered convention, this thing will almost certainly be over with on March 17–five weeks from Tuesday. It could well be over by Super Tuesday—three weeks from Tuesday.

As a Virginia resident, I’ll vote that day. I still don’t have a strong favorite and will therefore likely vote for the most viable of the non-Bernie candidates still standing.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. de stijl says:

    In principle I do not like or agree with front loading.

    What if the early leader has a fatal flaw revealed in March? You’re screwed unless you retroactively change the rules.

    I understand that the party and the apparatus wants an early leader / eventual nominee.

    Maybe the majority wants that.

    I don’t. It’s too risky. And it’s unfair.

    ReplyReply
  2. James Joyner says:

    @de stijl: I agree on all counts. It would be much better for the parties and the country hold the decisive primaries in, say, July, hold the conventions in August or September, and then have the debates through October.

    But the parties have demonstrated that they can’t control the process. They have tried to protect Iowa and New Hampshire’s position by punishing those who moved earlier, with limited success. States like Alabama (no big deal) and California (huge deal) were holding their primaries in June, too late to matter. So, there was a natural race to the front.

    Honestly, I’m surprised there are any primaries still left after Super Tuesday. While it’s possible that Michigan or Florida will emerge as a kingmaker by going later, it’s much more likely that they’ll be irrelevant.

    ReplyReply
  3. Scott says:

    Probably too hard to do but I would like the largest states (California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, etc) get together and primary in June. BTW, that lineup is a pretty good geographical, political mix.

    ReplyReply
  4. de stijl says:

    In Iowa, the tv markets are relatively cheap. Everyone with a decent war chest can buy time.

    Starting in a cheap media market is a good thing, from a civics prospective. Everyone who can get enough donors v
    Can afford ads. That is good.

    If California were the first stop the second and third tier folks might not have enough dollars to break through.

    The last thing I want to happen is that the odds-on person not be challenged. That will likely result in disaster.

    The party wants an early locked in winner. That may be a bad choice.

    You want a seasoned winner across all demographics consistent, not the flavor of the month.

    This is why I am a bad partisan. I worked for one candidate once a long time ago. Never again. Too many variables – best policy statements do not equal best candidate.

    I want to see the late bloomer bloom. Front-loading delegate selection is a definite bad choice.

    ReplyReply
  5. Gustopher says:

    Despite the quadrennial fever dreams of the political press of a brokered convention, this thing will almost certainly be over with on March 17–five weeks from Tuesday. It could well be over by Super Tuesday—three weeks from Tuesday.

    I assume this is also the quadrennial fever dream of the political parties, as every four years there is a schedule that makes it more likely.

    Keep in mind that there is proportional delegate allocation throughout the process. Unless the field shrinks to the point where someone is winning 50% of the vote before about half the primaries are done, I don’t see how anyone wins outright. And the primaries are set up to make that hard.

    And, just for fun, the reforms to the Superdelegates make them only relevant after the first ballot.

    ReplyReply
  6. de stijl says:

    Was at the Royal Mile when 50 or 60 Dean volunteers arrived simultaneously.

    They were very polite. Each of them paid with a campaign credit card. As in, there were 50 some cards.

    Chief knocked out so many pulls and drinks that night in such short order it was bonkers.

    They wanted to leave all at once and there were all separate checks. On credit cards. 50 some odd people simultaneously all with separate credit cards wanted to get on a bus.

    I think it took an hour and a half. They tipped well as a group.

    ReplyReply
  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The primary season has just started. It is almost over.

    And not a second too soon.

    @de stijl:

    What if the early leader has a fatal flaw revealed in March?

    This race has now been going on for a year now. Presumably, any fatal flaws would have been uncovered by now, not that I would ever presume anything. If not, it’s because all the campaigns and all the news media haven’t been doing their jobs. I find the idea that all of a sudden at this late date one of them would start doing their job after all this time exceedingly unlikely.

    Besides, in this age of trump, what flaw could possibly be fatal?

    ReplyReply

Speak Your Mind

*