Pushing back the GOP primary in 2012
Reid Wilson reports on discussions inside the RNC about the timing of the next round of presidential primaries.
A temporary delegate selection committee will recommend allowing IA, NH, SC and NV to hold contests in a pre-window period that begins in Feb., a month later than the '08 process began. Other states may begin holding their contests in March, rather than in Feb... but, in a significant change, any state that chooses to hold a nominating contest before April must award their delegates on an at least partly proportional basis.
If applied, this might lead to the most drawn-out GOP contest since 1996; in 2000 and 2008, the nomination was effectively decided by mid-February. Anyone who thinks that would be bad for the party might look to the Democrats' 2008 contest, where the endless battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama led to ramped-up voter registration in typically uncompetitive states. I'm less sure what the "partly proportional" reform could mean.
In 2008, recall, Republicans opted to award delegates in California by congressional district. The result? A 7-point win for McCain produced a 155-15 delegate landslide over Mitt Romney. Meanwhile, Clinton was beating Obama in the state by 8 points but netted only 36 delegates. While the GOP awarded its delegates in lump sums by district, the DNC made every district proportional.