Making New Hampshire Relatively Irrelevant

There are a lot of people who would like to see New Hampshire lose a good deal of its power in the presidential nominating process, apparently one of whom may be New Hampshire's Secretary of State Bill Gardner. Think I'm exaggerating? Take a look at the move Gardner has floated in the press in recent days, a move that could render the New Hampshire primary significantly less meaningful than it might otherwise be. The AP's Phil Elliott:

New Hampshire's secretary of state dropped two hints Thursday about the coming presidential primary: He won't make a decision about scheduling it until after Nov. 2, and the first-in-the-nation contest could very well be held in December.

"If we have to go in December, we would have to go in December," said Gardner, who alone has the power to set the date of the primary -- and has for the last 31 years.

What's the difference between a December and January primary for New Hampshire? Relevance. Although many wish it were not so, a mid-January New Hampshire primary this cycle would likely play an enormous role in determining the next Democratic nominee. For example at this point -- and I do stress at this point, because much will change in the next couple of months -- an overwhelming victory by any of the candidates in the Granite state could provide the winner with enough momentum to be able to cruise through Nevada and South Carolina to February 5, and possibly even the nomination.

Does anyone believe that a big New Hampshire win in December, followed immediately thereafter by the holiday season rather than a string of other caucuses and primaries, would lead to a winner effectively rolling to the nomination? A big win would undoubtedly lead to a momentum boost for the winner, but momentum towards what? The next nominating contest wouldn't occur for nearly a month, giving the losers ample time to regroup and refocus, and perhaps more importantly the establishment media the time to become open to a new meme that doesn't revolve around inevitability. So while a December New Hampshire primary could lead to a winnowing of the field, it's just not very likely that it would deliver nearly as much punch as a January primary would. And thus New Hampshire could find itself stuck, as a result of the pure hubris of its Secretary of State, with a relatively irrelevant nominating contest.

Tags: 2008, Democratic primaries, New Hampshire, New Hampshire primary (all tags)



I don't think they will go in December

I sure hope not, anyway.

by desmoinesdem 2007-10-21 10:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Making New Hampshire Relatively Irrelevant

If Clinton scores a win in NH first, that will immediately diminish any value of IA whether she wins or loses there.

A win is a win, especially in a primary state. The likely scenario is that no state will have any major influence over following states, which is a great thing.

Of course our lady from Iowa is going to whine.

by areyouready 2007-10-21 10:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Making New Hampshire Relatively Irrelevant

Here's the thing. Even though this clearly would hurt clinton, I don't think its a good idea to keep screwing with the process like this. If they want to do this in 2012 or 2016 that's fine. But doing this now- a couple of months out is just messed up and would hurt voters.

by bruh21 2007-10-21 10:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Making New Hampshire Relatively Irrelevant

well if they move to december, Iowa is going right after thanksgiving!

by sepulvedaj3 2007-10-21 11:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Making New Hampshire Relatively Irrelevant

hence why this is dumb. next we will have nevada wanting to be in nov and followed by FL and anyone else. it's getting silly.

by bruh21 2007-10-21 11:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Making New Hampshire Relatively Irrelevant

yep -- and FL/Michigan will jump even further ahead, OCT 31st primaries

by sepulvedaj3 2007-10-21 12:54PM | 0 recs
I don't care who wins NH, do you?

I speak as a voter in MA.  Not a "likely voter", but a definitely-will voter.  I don't know who I will vote for in the primary, yet.  But I know for damn sure that I will not decide based on the results of the NH primary or the IA caucus.  Maybe that makes me weird.

But it is my secret hope that I am more typical than weird.  Maybe it's a foolish hope, given the historical evidence for the importance of "momentum".  Still, things do change over time, and it's just possible that this cycle will not conform to the recent historical pattern.  It would be a healthy sign if voters in later states do not vote, this cycle, as if they're betting on the ponies.  If you bet on the front-running horse you at least stand to make some money.  What the hell is the motivation to vote for the front-running candidate based only on front-runner status?

The most charitable view I can take of the conventional wisdom about "momentum" is this:  if a candidate makes a good enough impression on the voters in Iowa and New Hampshire to win there, s/he is likely to be saying and doing things that also appeal to me.  In that view, the importance of IA and NH is that they measure, rather than create, a candidate's strength nationally.  Evidently, that's not the conventional view, or people wouldn't be so worked up about "early states" -- unless they own motels or local TV stations there.

-- TP  

by Rethymniotis 2007-10-21 11:27AM | 0 recs
I think it is NH law that the primary must be a week before any other equivalent "election."  Or something like that.  Not his decision exactly.  
I am in NH, by the way, but I am not a native, and I think the whole primary thing is pretty ridiculous, which probably means I will be forever outcast.  But then I am not fond of the party establishments here, they are both in-grown.  Like toenails.
by bloomingpol 2007-10-21 11:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Hubris?

a week before any other primary... which is why its ok for Iowa to go before NH, they hold a caucus

by sepulvedaj3 2007-10-21 12:55PM | 0 recs
This really is pretty lame

It's less than three months before the Iowa caucuses now and we still don't know what the primary schedule is actually going to be? Anarchy.

by Korha 2007-10-21 11:36AM | 0 recs
The only think keeping

The only thing keeping FL and MI from jumping even further ahead is that the Republicans handled the situation intelligently and left the threat of additional sanctions on the table.

Unlike Howard Dean and the DNC who foolishly went straight to the death penalty. FL and MI dems have nothing to lose. They might as well hold their primaries next week.

by hwc 2007-10-21 01:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Making New Hampshire Relatively Irrelevant

There was some speculation about this affecting the fundraising mechanisms this cycle.  That if there are primaries in 2007 that would be considered an election cycle for fundraising purposes and all maxed out primary donors could max out again for the 2008 election cycle.  Anymore info on this out there?

by Demo Dan in Dayton 2007-10-21 04:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Making New Hampshire Relatively Irrelevant

I remember reading something about that too, but what you said is all I can recall being mentioned at the time.

by Quinton 2007-10-21 05:22PM | 0 recs
This is all bluster

I was at the Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Manchester this weekend.  No one I talked to really thinks NH is going in December - it's all a smokescreen.

If you want to understand how NH keeps its status, consider this post by New Hampshire Representative Jim Splaine on BlueHampshire:

Throughout the years, we have preserved our lead-off status by keeping the other states and the national parties off-guard, and giving our Secretary of State plenty of options -- including December -- so he will be unpredictable until he officially sets the date. It's worked.  This time he has fewer options because of the early January crush, but he can still respond by keeping a December option open, while hoping for a January possibility. o?diaryId=2103

by fladem 2007-10-22 06:31AM | 0 recs


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