Hotlineblog has some of the details (unfortunately, something is screwed up with their link). The Chicago Tribune and Manchester Union Leader have the best coverage.

First, the procedure. The DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee passed a resolution fixing the beginning of the 2008 Dem primary and caucus schedule. Today it will be considered by the full DNC and is expected to pass. Details from the Trib:

Unless there is unexpected maneuvering, the Democratic calendar will begin with the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 14, 2008, followed by Nevada’s caucuses Jan. 19, New Hampshire’s primary Jan. 22 and South Carolina’s primary a week later. After Feb. 5, other states would be allowed to hold primaries and caucuses.

Why do schedules change? To pick winners. In 1988, Lee Atwater moved up South Carolina because he could deliver it for Bush. In 1992, Zell Miller moved up Georgia because he could deliver it for Bill Clinton.

Now Harry Reid is moving up Nevada because he can deliver it for … ? Note that Clinton is currently doing terribly in the polls in NH and is tied with Edwards in IA. But, especially in a caucus situation, Reid can almost certainly deliver his state. (On the other hand, Reid appears to have asked Clinton to take over leader in 08 because he has a tough re-elect in 2010) The NH Dem Chair confirms this (Hotline):

“Unless a rule is directly related to taking back the White House, or helping to build this party, I’m not sure why we should be considering it,” she said. “The rules and bylaws committee shouldn’t be in the business of hurting candidates for the nomination. We should be helping them.”

It also creates a more liberal and less white electorate:

While the consequences for selecting a nominee with this order of states are uncertain, adding Nevada as one of the early states could give union members a larger say, considering the number of hotel workers there. It will almost certainly also hasten the front-loading that has already transformed the contest from a months-long slog into a sprint lasting just a few weeks.

This has been reported as a big win for the labor unions, but this is a big win for SEIU and the service worker unions, not the industrial unions. The industrial unions hold sway in IA and MI. Now the other guys — the guys who are growing — have a say. NV is also much less white.

NH’s Manchester Union Leader titles this: “Dems Push Primary Penalty”. For them the story is that NH is getting the long end of the stick. You see, Bill Gardner, NH’s SOS has said, rules be damned, NH will be first. And, by law, he sets the date (more details here, care of NH Insider):

State law says the primary must be held seven days ahead of any “similar election.” Gardner has said that an additional caucus may fit into his broad interpretation that the law requires him to preserve the primary’s traditional impact on national politics, even though party-run caucuses are structured much differently than state-run primaries and may not be “similar.”

Ultimately, NH doesn’t matter because of convention votes, especially in a front-loaded, media-and-money-driven calender. It has a relatively small number in both party conventions. It matters for momentum. The press will report the winner, whatever happens. And it will have an impact on who wins the swing state in 2008 where 4 electoral votes really could make the difference:

Joining Sullivan in criticizing the measure was DNCer Alice Germond, who said she was concerned about the “unintended consequences of this,” including “repercussions that might result in our not winning that state in the general election.”

5 Comments » Democrat primary calendar about more than diversity · August 24, 2006 at 8:32 AM

[…] A professor at the University of New Hampshire has an interesting op-ed in today’s WaPo about the New Hampshire Primary and the recent shift of the primary schedule by the Democrats. A lot of attention has been focused on the racial/diversity issue, which was the argument that the DNC used to move up Nevada. But the point that I found interesting was this: But unlike Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina, New Hampshire has a strong, broad-based economy with a significant concentration of high-tech companies and global exporters. In many respects its economy represents the nation’s (hoped-for) economic future. It’s a very good place for candidates to test out economic ideas and principles and to learn from workers and entrepreneurs. […] » Broder on Dem calender shuffle · August 31, 2006 at 8:04 AM

[…] David Broder — a fellow University of Chicago alum — wrote a great article on the Dem calendar shuffle which I have written on here and here. First he points out the history of Dem calender rule-changes: This way lies madness, and madness is what the Democrats have wrought. When they started tinkering with their rules after the 1968 election disaster, they unleashed a fierce competition among the states to be at the head of the line, where the contests have the greatest impact on weeding the field and crowning the eventual winner. […] » California moving up too? · November 13, 2006 at 12:10 PM

[…] (Incidentally, I don’t think that this can be right because the Dems changed their rules to strip delegates from states that pick delegates before Feb. 5) The catch is, of course, that this is an expensive media state: Nonetheless, mischief-making with the country’s primary calendar would doubtless cause consternation among national party officials and candidates from both parties. California is one of the most expensive markets to campaign in, and an early primary date would require huge expenditures early in the season. […] » Florida moving … to January? · January 12, 2007 at 7:34 AM

[…] If that happened, Florida Democrats would lose all their delegates at the convention, according to current DNC rules. […] » Calendar stuff and new goofy GOP delegate selection processes · February 8, 2007 at 8:05 AM

[…] First, Bill Gardner, the NH’s Secretary of State is set to move up the New Hampshire primary to January 14th, 2008. Iowa would then have to move up too, as David Yepsen notes. There’s an important undercurrent here. Both of these are swing states, and the DNC rules would strip both of these states of their delegates if they move up. In both of these states, protecting their special status in the Presidential nominating process is important enough to be something that people actually vote on. If the Democrats are on record opposed to the New Hampshire primary’s status, it could make it easier to win back a lot of those seats that the GOP lost in 2006. […]

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