|2008 Primary & Caucus Grade Sheet|
Which states do well and which states do poorly? Earlier is better, but either having a lot of delegates or holding a stand-alone contest are also beneficial. Louisiana is an interesting case. It may simply be that the state government in the Pelican state wanted to avoid a primary election on Fat Tuesday (...Super Tuesday to the rest of nation), but they broke new ground by holding their primary on a weekend. Tuesdays are typically the domain of primaries, but the Louisiana example may prove a viable alternative for states in 2012. The legislature in Kansas has already considered such a weekend contest for 2012, though the plan was vetoed because a photo ID provision was included in the bill. It will be interesting to see other state legislative action on this as we move into the down time between cycles next year.
And what are the ties that bind those states that had the least influential contests in 2008? Well, there was some bad luck involved. That's fine to say in hindsight, but it is the reality of the situation. For most states that moved to Super Tuesday, the decision was a poor one. Most got lost in the shuffle, but essentially got what they were after: some influence over the nomination decisions. That was easy on the Democratic side, as the battle lasted through each state's contest. On the Republican side, any state that held a contest prior to March 4 technically had a say in the nomination, but got varying returns on their investments. Those states with contests following March 4 were out of the nomination equation (as most post-Super Tuesday states have been since 1988 with few exceptions). Small states on Super Tuesday and those states following March 4 were less successful in influencing the nomination, but the candidates' home states also fared poorly. And this is contrary to some of the stated thought processes of state governments. Such a move helps win a native son or daughter delegates, but that comes at the expense of having the contest matter in the grand scheme of things. If a contest is ceded to one candidate or another because of the home state factor, then the media stays away and the contest proves less than influential. Illinois is the exception here. The Land of Lincoln was delegate-rich enough to be buffered against the downside of the state being ceded to Obama. Arkansas and Arizona, though, were lost in the shuffle on Super Tuesday.
What did the calendar of 2008 teach us? Well, earlier is better, but early and alone is ideal. Most states don't and won't have access to such a combination without the party-sanctioned exemptions that New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina and Nevada receive. Without reform then, the impetus remains behind holding a contest on Super Tuesday. And ultimately, that will lead to a national primary system with four states having an influence over the others. Is that an ideal system? Maybe, maybe not. But given how difficult it is going to be to significantly reform the system, that is probably what the system will end up looking like.
Insult to Injury: Obama and His Money
The Electoral College Map (6/18/08)
Idaho Final Tally: 79.5% of Vote, 83.3% of Delegates