The Primary Schedule and 2008
Building upon Steve's discussion of the 2008 race, The Next Hurrah discusses something that's been hotly debated within the Democratic party; namely, the increasingly compressed primary schedule, and whether it helps or hurts the party. Most of the criticism is directed at Iowa and New Hampshire, but the issue is much broader:
But the problem for Democrats isn't just the first two states that vote. In the 2004, it was the entire schedule, with the Democratic nomination determined mostly by heavily Republican states or Democratic-leaning states where, because they used a caucus system, only a tiny fraction of that state's voters decided the election.
The 2004 primary schedule gave heavy early influence to voters in many states that voted for Bush by solid margins, where the process limited the number of participants, or where a competetive state (like NH, IA, NM, NV and WI) had an African-American population far below the national average. It's not clear that the order of states that cast their votes after Iowa and New Hampshire greatly affected the results of the nomination battle, but in a more wide-open and drawn-out contest, it could have made a big difference. Let's hope that nomination commission thinks about more than just the first two states to vote when it thinks about the potential impact on the entire nomination campaign, let's hope it gives consideration to what should be the first twenty to vote on chosing 2008 Democratic nominee for president.(emphasis mine)