July 22, 2010

TIME TO MAKE A MORE INFORMED DECISION:

Bad news for Mitt?: Presidential primary schedule might ruffle Romney's chances (DAVID S. BERNSTEIN, July 21, 2010, Boston Phoenix)

The RNC has taken major steps this summer toward defining the 2012 calendar, so that the primary contests start later, and are less bunched together, than in 2008 — when 28 states held their Republican nominating elections by February 5.

The RNC's suggested 2012 schedule would start in February, with contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina.

Then, to dissuade states from crowding forward into a "Super-Duper Tuesday," the RNC would reward states that wait until at least April, by letting them hold "winner-take-all" primaries. Most state GOP parties prefer that, because it heightens the stakes, enticing candidates to come campaign in the state.

States holding their nominating contests in March would have to use a proportional system, under which candidates can win delegates with a second- or even third-place finish.

If adopted, and if states react as party leaders hope, the rules would lead to a slower-paced nomination process, with candidates building up their delegate totals bit by bit over several months.

That slow-down is deliberate; party leaders believe that there are political drawbacks to settling on a nominee in February. (For one thing, the media largely stops paying attention until the late-summer convention.)

But a broader concern, two Republicans close to the process tell the Phoenix, was ensuring a full vetting of the winning candidate on the campaign trail. GOP party leaders don't want a celebrity candidate like Sarah Palin — or worse, some Rand Paul–like flavor-of-the-month — sweeping to the nomination.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 22, 2010 5:34 AM
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