Things To Act
Wednesday, February 04, 2004
Primary Observations II
*It's a pity that the Lieberman/Clark ploy to skip Iowa didn't seem to pay off. Iowa and New Hampshire simply have no good justification for their privileged status, but until a candidate can win the nomination after telling them to go to hell, everyone will kowtow to them.

*The compressed calendar/frontloading doesn't seem to be working very well. My suspicion is that Kerry's wins were mostly by default (particularly in Missouri, which no one tried very hard in until Gephardt dropped out, so voters there were fairly clueless about the candidates). While this may be a good thing from the perspective of getting a nominee quickly (as if there hadn't already been plenty of infighting), latching on to Kerry without a more thorough evaluation period could come back to haunt the Dems (and disgust the voters, for that matter). What if the candidates could have had another week or two before the round after NH? Could Lieberman have turned things around, or dropped out with enough time for his supporters to migrate to other candidates? On the flip side, could either Clark or Edwards have been dethroned, making the nomination even more obvious? It's not clear to me that the rapid-fire pace of primaries gives us any useful information, because candidates compensate by making strategic decisions which mute the impact of the frontloading. Edwards basically had SC to himself, while Clark focused on OK--their wins don't tell us much, except that everybody's afraid to go head-to-head when it counts. One state at a time, at two-week intervals, over a period of 2-3 months might give us a much better idea of which candidates can campaign credibly, and which can't.

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