The Democratic Party's Rules and Bylaws Committee yesterday dealt a blow to New Hampshire Democrats hoping to keep their coveted place in the presidential nominating schedule, agreeing by voice vote to a plan that would place one or two caucuses between the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 14, 2008, and the New Hampshire primary eight days later.
The proposal, which grew from recommendations by a commission studying how to make the nominating process more diverse both racially and geographically, would also add one or two primaries after the New Hampshire contest but before Feb. 5 -- the date after which any state is free to schedule a vote. ***Most observers believe the additional states will come from the South and the West -- two rapidly growing areas that offer a diverse electorate. South Carolina, Arkansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Alabama and Mississippi are among the states under consideration.
Which for me raises two questions:
1. What states are most likely to result in an early victory by a dark horse other than the presumptive frontrunner? THOSE are the states we want to add, because power-broker-engineered juggernauts (more here) both are bad for democracy and, contrary to conventional wisdom, tend to result in candidates who lose in the general election.
2. Why are the only Western states being considered located in the Southwest? Marketing experts commonly test new advertising campaigns in Oregon because it's representative of the nation's overall demographics (it has everything from hippies to farmers to cowboys to millworkers), and because advertising costs are relatively low; those same factors, plus the fact that the state demographically mirrors parts of the more influential states California and Washington and would draw strong media coverage from those larger markets, make Oregon a great choice for an early primary.
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