January 22 never was going to be the date of the New Hampshire presidential primary in 2008; at least not after states like Florida, and to a greater extent, Michigan began encroaching on the state's first in the nation turf. Recently the speculation then has centered on New Hampshire going on January 8, 2008. Secretary of State, Bill Gardner, said recently that the state would hold its 2008 primary at least two weeks earlier than the fourth Tuesday in January date used during the 2004 race. And the second Tuesday in January 2008 is January 8.
This week however, Gardner and those around him, hinted that another date is being considered: December 11. That's the bombshell that has been out there since everyone began crowding New Hampshire and Iowa; a move that both states were hoping to avoid, but became almost inevitable following Michigan's move to January 15.
So, New Hampshire's legislature ceded the decision to place the primary date to the Secretary of State in 1975, freeing the state to move the presidential primary date with the least amount of resistance. If Michigan were to react, another special session of the state legislature would have to be convened to get the move passed. There was Democratic resistance within the legislature over the move to January 15 and any move to an even earlier date, would surely face greater scrutiny than its predecessor. In other words, Michigan and New Hampshire are not on a level playing field in this regard.
Now let the chain reaction commence. If New Hampshire is on December 11, will Iowa move to December 3, the traditional eight days ahead of the New Hampshire primary? Or will the Democratic and Republican parties in Iowa be content to be the first caucus in the nation, and not THE first contest overall? If past experience tells us anything, it is that Iowa will lean toward the former. If either or both moves come to pass, then I will have been off by a week in my guess (IA on Dec. 10 and NH on Dec. 18). But earlier is earlier, I suppose, at least in the minds of New Hampshirites and Iowans.
If this happens, the candidates had better get cracking because December 11 is less than two months away.