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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Dems Weigh Proposal to Discourage ‘Frontloading’ Primaries

Jeff Zeleny reports in the New York Times on an unusual proposal before the Rules and Bylaws Committee of the Democratic National Committee to discourage further “frontloading” of Presidential primaries. While Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina have nailed down early primary dates, other states are now scrambling to lock in early dates. But the proposal before the DNC would give “incentive delegates” to states that chose later primary dates. Here is the breakdown, as outlined by Zeleny:

States holding 2008 primaries between February 5 and March 31 — known as stage 1 — will get no bonus delegates.
States with contests between April 1 and April 30 — stage 2 — receive a 5 percent bonus for staying in that time period.
States with contests between May 1 and June 10 — stage 3 — will receive a 10 percent bonus for staying in that timeframe.
At the same time, if any state in stage 1 moves to stage 2, it receives a 15 percent bonus. Finally, if a stage 1 or 2 state moves into stage 3, it receives a 30 percent bonus.

The DNC will vote on the proposal in February. The argument in favor of frontloading primaries is that it allows time for Dems to unify behind a candidate. The argument against frontloading is that it gives the GOP an early target and leaves the Democrats with a boring mid and late primary season, giving the GOP a significant advantage in media coverage. Hopefully each state will consider the greater Democratic good, as well as it’s own interests. Either way, it is a strategic consideration that merits more media coverage and further discussion among Democratic rank and file.

One comment on “Dems Weigh Proposal to Discourage ‘Frontloading’ Primaries

  1. Matt Seyfang on

    While I’d have to see the details of the plan, any movement away from frontloading would be a welcome development. As things stand now, there is an overwhelming likelihood that there will be a stampede to hold primaries and caucuses on February 5, which is the opening of the “window.” This means that we’d probably have a nominee on that date, which is less than a month after the first caucus in Iowa on January 7. While I’d prefer to see a more comprehensive reform plan that pushes the first contests back into February and spreads them out more, this is at least a step in the right direction.


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