Thoughts on the Republican Primary Shuffle

Ten weeks from tomorrow Iowa will hold its presidential caucuses. Just one week later, New Hampshire voters will participate in their “first in the nation” primary.

You would think that we would have learned something after the front-loaded madness that was the 2008 primaries. After all, by mid-February more than 35 states had decided on a nominee, and Republican John McCain had virtually locked up the nomination a half year before the convention.

The Republican National Committee attempted to put an end to this frontloaded primary season by developing a new set of rules for the nomination process in August 2010. These rules specified that any state to hold their convention before February 1 would be stripped of half its delegates, and that only the “First Four” – Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina – would be allowed to have their conventions between February 1 and March 1.

Republicans were on track to have a February 1 start date to the primary season until just over a month ago, when Florida Governor Rick Scott called for a January 31 primary date. This jump set into motion a series of other moves – South Carolina to January 21, Iowa to January 3, and now New Hampshire on January 10.

Nevada, the last of the first four states, was slated to have their primary on January 14; however, a clause in the Granite State’s constitution would have forced their primary into December. Thus, Nevada bowed to public pressure from both the RNC and the candidates – many of who vowed to skip the Nevada primary if it remained on January 14 – and moved back to February.

Did the public pick the right nemesis, however, in its criticism of Nevada? Why did the RNC focus all of its attention on moving the Nevada primary back when it virtually allowed Florida to create this problem in the first place?

The RNC goofed up, and Nevada drew the short stick as a result. The committee should have been harsher in its treatment of Florida’s decision and stripped the state of all of its delegates for moving the contest. It’s not like we didn’t see it coming, since it had done the same thing in 2008. And I’m sure that Florida isn’t afraid of losing its delegates, especially since (a) the RNC reinstated all of its delegates four years ago and (b) it is hosting the party convention this year.

They say that rules are created to be broken. Except when the rules are created to determine whom our potential President is, they should be infallible.


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