First, it won’t be as compressed as it looks. There is strong evidence that New Hampshire will move up to January 7 on the principal that:
- The only primary or caucus that can proceed it is Iowa.
- They will 7 or may days in front of any other contest.
- They will skip Iowa if they have to
- They will be on a Tuesday
My understanding is that this is the public position of Bill Gardner, NH’s Secretary of State. And all that has to happen in NH to fix the day is Bill has to write a letter. That day would be Jan 7. And I don’t think that Bill Gardner cares what Howard Dean would do. The showdown at the DNC when the Credentials Committee strips New Hampshire of its delegates because of a 90% position in the electorate of NH would be amusing, to say the least. My understanding is that this is all conventional wisdom now in New Hampshire.
So what would Iowa do? Move up too. Not to December 31st or 24th, for obvious reasons. So…. The 17th? The 10th? Of December? 12 months away? Yup.
So my prediction is:
- Dec 17th for IA
- Jan 7th for NH
- Jan 28th for SC
- Feb 5th for everyone else
With a strong chance that Michigan tries to move up to the 28th.
Now on to the question of who this favors. If there’s 3 weeks between Iowa and New Hampshire and 3 weeks between New Hampshire and South Carolina (and no one else moves up) then an insurgent winner in IA could have a chance in NH and SC. But the wall on February 5th is hard to climb. It costs a lot to compete in Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, Missouri, and New Jersey. Name ID will have to be purchased. And people on the ground now (or almost now) will matter. That puts a premium on money and organization now. That’s why poor insurgents like Sam Brownback and Newt Gingrich will shape the debate but it is still a 2 or 3 person race.