Friday, February 25, 2011

Is it really a "stampede" if no one moves?

I don't know that this headline ("Florida Threatens to Start a 2012 Primary Stampede") really fits the article that follows. The general focus is on Florida and the potential for the state legislature there to defy the national party rules and keep the Sunshine state's 2012 presidential primary in January. But there is not really anything after that that describes anything close to the massive 2008-like movement of states or why that would occur if Florida does nothing.

Of course, the headline implies it. And I suppose that sentiment is understandable given the experience with Florida in 2008. That, however, is a false premise. With the rules changes that both the Democrats and Republican coordinated -- pushing the starting point for all non-exempt states back to the first Tuesday in March -- most states that have proposed moves have proposed moving back to comply with those rules. By comparison, there are only two states with bills before their state legislatures currently proposing to move their presidential primaries forward. And one of those states, Idaho, isn't really a threat because the move in the Gem state is only up a week from the fourth Tuesday in May to the third Tuesday in May.

Texas, then, stands as the only state with a bill within the legislature to move its primary forward. That doesn't seem like much of a stampede. In fact, the real issue behind the development of the 2012 presidential primary calendar continues to be the states that are already scheduled early and in violation of the national party rules. They are already there. The cattle stampeded in 2004 and 2008 and the inaction now isn't so much a stampede as it is running in place.

Now, if Texas actually moves to February, well, that might set off a flurry of movement. But even then state legislatures will be constrained by bill introduction deadlines and beyond that the looming end of most legislative sessions across the country.

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