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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Bloggers Mull Pros and Cons of Mega-Primary

Political Animal Kevin Drum joins Kos in giving the thumbs up to the ‘Super Tuesday’ (February 5th) monster primary, although Drum stipulates:

I’m pretty much on board with this. I’d rather see the candidates spend a year running a truly national campaign — the kind they’ll need to run in the general election — instead of spending 90% of their time in two small states where they engage in nostalgic but obsolete coffee klatsch campaigning. Like it or not, that just isn’t the way the world works anymore.
However, if a single massive primary day is the way we decide to do things in the future, I hope that by 2012 we can agree to move the whole process forward and hold it in, say, April or May. The first week of February is just too early to commit to a candidate who won’t be elected until November.

A smidge less gung-ho than Kos, who says:

There’s some level of nostalgia over the notion of a long, drawn out primary process in which Iowa and New Hampshire kick things off. This is supposed to help the Jimmy Carter-type underdogs “build momentum” and give voters a chance to “deliberate” over their decisions.
In reality, of course, we had a system in which two non-representative states (IA and NH) decided our nominee last time, and they were gunning for the same “right” this time around.
The rest of the states aren’t morons. They saw what was happening, and so many have moved up to the front of the pack that now we have essentially a national primary on Feb. 5. Is that a bad thing? I’d argue it’s a fantastic thing.

New Donkey Ed Kilgore sees things differently in his recent post, entitled “Nomination Abomination”:

This, folks, is simply crazy. February 5 is nine months before the general election, and roughly six months before the nominating conventions. The heavily front-loaded 2004 schedule was rationalized by some Democrats as necessary to give the nominee time to take on an incumbent; there’s no such excuse for the far more front-loaded 2008 calendar. It virtually guarantees that three factors—money, name ID, and success in the earliest states, especially Iowa—will determine the outcome. And it may well snuff any serious chance for the lower-tier candidates in both parties, who must now somehow simultaneously combine relentless campaigning in Iowa with the massive fundraising necessary to compete in the incredibly expensive February 5 landscape.
Most importantly, the emerging calendar will provide zero opportunity for second thoughts after the early rush has anointed nominees. It could be a very long spring, summer and autumn if a nominee commits some major blunder, or some disabling skeleton jumps out of a closet.

All three of the above make good points. However, their arguments assume that one candidate will emerge on top on Feb. 5th, which may not be the case. Perhaps we can agree that it’s a good thing, assuming two big “ifs” — if one candidate comes out on top, and if that candidate is the best competitor to carry the party standard. It looks like a done deal for ’08, and the outcome will no doubt determine the future of the whole monster primary concept. It’s certainly one of the most important Democratic strategy choices, and readers are encouraged to read all three posts and some of the more than 250 comments on the articles submitted thus far.

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