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Democrats' 2008 Primary Calendar Coming Into Focus

Less than 48 hours before the Democratic Party's Commission on Presidential Nomination Timing and Scheduling is scheduled to hold its final meeting, the panel's recommendations have surfaced.

Washington Post political reporter/guru Dan Balz tells The Fix that the commission will reaffirm the traditional role of Iowa as the first-in-the-nation caucus and New Hampshire as the first-in-the-nation primary.

The most controversial recommendation is to add either one or two caucuses between Iowa and New Hampshire as well as one or two primaries after New Hampshire but before other states are allowed to schedule their own contests.

This proposal is a compromise between southern, western and midwestern Democrats who had been pushing for between two and four caucuses for the period between Iowa and New Hampshire, and the Granite State lobby that proposed adding contests after the New Hampshire primary but not before. It remains to be seen whether New Hampshire will accept these parameters, as the state's political leaders have publicly threatened that scheduling any state caucus or primary between Iowa and New Hampshire would be an unacceptable proposal.

The early returns don't look promising. "Unfortunately, the commission is limiting its usefulness
by drafting a plan that chooses controversy over consensus," said New Hampshire Democratic party Chairwoman Kathy Sullivan. "Frontloading the calendar with new caucuses would make the process narrower and less democratic, and it would be a huge setback to Democrats' efforts to carry Iowa and New Hampshire in the future."

The commission is set to make its final recommendations when it formally meets in Washington on Saturday. The commission makes it recommendations to the Democratic National Committee's Rules and Bylaws Committee, which must affirm them in order for the calendar changes to be made official, then party Chairman Howard Dean would have a final say.

By Chris Cillizza  |  December 8, 2005; 5:45 PM ET
Categories:  Democratic Party  
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Comments

For Us New Hampshire people to insist on first in the nation primary status does not sound very democretic to me. I also believe it is counterproductive. To back a more equitable scheme would bring more effectivness to the process, and more respect toward New Hampshire.

Posted by: David Keniston | December 10, 2005 6:17 PM | Report abuse

This isn't about representation or diversity. It's about MONEY. It is a matter of where the money is being spent. Both Iowa and New Hampshire are small. The news media makes their results much more important than they really are. The party just doesn't want to waste campaign money on states that dont' really matter. What Iowa and New Hampshire think isn't really important to anyone other than those who live there. Yet very large sums of money are wasted there that could be used in more important states.

Posted by: Shamgar | December 10, 2005 11:07 AM | Report abuse

No Frodo, the whole reason the Iowa caucus system exists is to make the system more democratic and increase the power of ordinary people to choose a nominee. It was part of efforts to take those decisions out of the hands of party bosses. If the parties wanted more control over the process, they would rewrite the rules on delegate allocation, and eliminate or neuter the caucuses and primaries. No party leader made Kerry win the Iowa caucuses; Iowa Democrats decided that. Why do people "have it out" for New Hampshire? Because there's no reason for that one tiny, extremely unrepresentative state to have the power it does in the presidential nominating process. If we had to choose one state to go first and have that degree of influence, it should be California since it's the biggest. Every American outside Iowa and New Hampshire is disadvantaged by the system as it's set up now. It's more about expectations and how the media covers it anyway than who actually wins; in 2000 Bill Bradley did better than anyone has ever done in a primary against a sitting Vice-President (Gore 52, Bradley 47), but since he didn't get 50% no one noticed and his campaign foundered. And that's not to mention the weak record of New Hampshire winners losing either the nomination or the general election anyway! Look where Bill Clinton's NH loss and John McCain's win there got them!

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | December 9, 2005 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Dude, caucuses most assuredly give the party establishment the ability to control the results. See, e.g., Iowa, 2004. Why do you think the party establishment has it in for NH? Lack of control over the voters.

Posted by: Frodo | December 9, 2005 9:14 PM | Report abuse

The levels of ignorance and idiocy displayed in these comments is amazing. No wonder America's in the mess it's in. Have any of you actually studied politics before, or are you just talking out of your ass? Opinions are fine, but with no education they're dangerous.

No, your dog does not know how to run the country better than humans. And gosh, what an original sentiment! Like we haven't heard that from the vast majority of Americans for the past 30 years!

No, caucuses do not give parties the ability to fix the results (do you even have an inkling why they were created?).

No, "green" (whatever that means) is not the fundamental, overarching issue people care about more than any other.

"The people get the government they deserve."

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | December 9, 2005 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Years before most other states, New Hampshire committed itself to choosing its delegates based on the results of a direct primary election. The DC insiders didn't care back then that NH held the first primary, because choosing delegates that way was considered a quaint little thing. New Hampshire created its first primary status, it wasn't a gift from Donna Brazille and Carl Levin. New Hampshire is not going to give in to the DC insiders and special interests who want caucuses so they can control the results.

Posted by: Athena | December 9, 2005 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Members of the Democratic National Committee would be wise to understand the passion with which New Hampshire will defend the status of its first-in-the-nation primary. State law specifies that the secretary of state has the duty and obligation to schedule the primary a week or more any "similar election" (that includes both primaries and caucuses). No doubt exists that he will do that, even if it means moving the primary to 2007 or the unseating of the New Hampshire delegation at the Democratic National Convention. By law he has no other choice. The New Hampshire primary is not simply an election here; it is a bedrock tradition to which Granite Staters are fiercely dedicated.We will do whatever is necessary to protect it.

Posted by: Gary Patton | December 9, 2005 6:01 PM | Report abuse

if the commision really cared about democracy ,as opposed to a power play, they would be talking about ending iowa not nh. But they wont as they can flood the caucuses which only have 1/4 the turnout rate of the nh primary.

Posted by: polotuama | December 9, 2005 5:16 PM | Report abuse

While it is no doubt a good idea to have some devergent populations have primaries that are soon after new hampshire, these should be primaries and not caucuses, which are just a vehicle for the special interests groups to continue to dominate the party. They brought us miserable losing campaigns-- we need to end the front loading and add more new hampshires, more primaries and more power for the people and not the party bosses, who are the ones writign the commission report.

Posted by: paul | December 9, 2005 5:13 PM | Report abuse

As a New Hampshire resident and Democrat, I can't believe this commission is trying to derail our first in the nation primary at this critical point in our nation's history. We Democrats have got to get our act together and speak with one voice about as many issues as possible. Why are we giving the Republican party ammunition? Our state has and continues to include many diverse views and interests. Please support the continuance of New Hampshire's first in the nation primary.

Posted by: Deb Reynolds | December 9, 2005 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who does not talk "Green" in the next election needs not to run. I think most American's feel if that issue is not addressed, (what is the point of arguing about anything)

Posted by: laura | December 9, 2005 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who does not talk "Green" in the next election needs not to run. I think most American's feel if that issue is not addressed, (what is the point of arguing about anything)

Posted by: laura | December 9, 2005 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Don't blame Iowa and NH for your voice not being heard; blame the geniuses who clustered 12 events in eight days the week after NH. By the time that was over, your vote didn't count. If you want eveyone's vote to count, you should oppose a plan that will basicaly give six states the power to nominate the Democratic candidate in 2008, and end the process seven months before the Democratic convention! Check out the DemcoracyforNewHampshire web site for all the reasons to oppose the commission

Posted by: asbury | December 9, 2005 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Don't blame Iowa and NH for your voice not being heard; blame the geniuses who clustered 12 events in eight days the week after NH. By the time that was over, your vote didn't count. If you want eveyone's vote to count, you should oppose a plan that will basicaly give six states the power to nominate the Democratic candidate in 2008, and end the process seven months before the Democratic convention! Check out the DemcoracyforNewHampshire web site for all the reasons to oppose the commission

Posted by: asbury | December 9, 2005 2:44 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe Kathy Sullivan made that statement. The system as it stands basically lets the tiniest fraction of a percentage of Dems to select the nominee long before anyone else gets a chance to cast a ballot. By the time the primary came to Illinois in 2004 the race was John Kerry's. My vote for Howard Dean was futile since he'd already withdrawn. That's the most undemocratic process imaginable. I understand that having a national primary on the same day would play havoc with campaign strategy and schedule, but why not have a rotating system of primaries. And who cares what Iowa and New Hampshire think? Isn't the DNC supposed to represent interests of all Democrats?

Posted by: Kevin Fitchard | December 9, 2005 2:31 PM | Report abuse


Chris, you and the Democratic party are flying too close to the sun, the wax is melting and the feathers are flying.

Posted by: Stew Pidd | December 9, 2005 1:12 PM | Report abuse


Hey Chris, what are you smoking? I think you have been drinking from the well of the liberal press and believing what you read.

The American public is not as stupid as the democrats would have you believe. Your brass band is not large enough to trumpet the Dems
into power.

Merry Christmas and AHNY

Posted by: Bill Konrad | December 9, 2005 1:08 PM | Report abuse

You're way off on Maria Cantwell's race in Washington. Check this out for the proof: http://www.mydd.com/story/2005/12/8/161822/932

Posted by: Ken | December 9, 2005 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I don't see it mentioned here, but I believe the idea behind having an additional caucus or two between Iowa & New Hampshire is to lend the process additional geographic & ethnic diversity -- both worthwile goals in line with the spirit of the Democratic Party.

Posted by: Liam | December 9, 2005 12:22 PM | Report abuse

I'd think it'd make sense to have New Hampshire and Iowa on the same day, and then two weeks later, have another big day of three primaries and a caucus or two. Keep 'em in the news cycle longer, and since NH and Iowa have fairly white, fairly moderate populations, it'd limit their influence when still keeping them first-in-the-nation, which I'd agree has some local importance.

Posted by: Toby | December 8, 2005 10:56 PM | Report abuse

Hillary for President,I'm sure things cannot get messed up as worse as they
are now. I'm talking my Pug dog knows
more about running this Country,than
this bunch.

Posted by: Floyd F.Vaughn | December 8, 2005 10:15 PM | Report abuse

I'll be DAMNED; now besides a bunch of whiny-ass traitors like jfk (the new and improved) and murtha ( look what i did in the war daddy) now I see they have balz!

Posted by: Russell A. Lissuzzo | December 8, 2005 8:57 PM | Report abuse

If I am reading this proposal correctly, 2008 will be worse than 2004, frontloading a bunch of states at the beginning. Who thought this plan up - Karl Rove?

Posted by: asbury | December 8, 2005 8:15 PM | Report abuse

If I am reading this proposal correctly, 2008 will be worse than 2004, frontloading a bunch of states at the beginning. Who thought this plan up - Karl Rove?

Posted by: asbury | December 8, 2005 8:15 PM | Report abuse

The British comparison isn't quite right -- the parties there have established leaders who are their automatic candidate for prime minister. In fact, the Conservative Party just went through a somewhat torturous multi-stage seven-month process to choose their new leader -- that is the real equivalent of the presidential primaries.

Posted by: Joe | December 8, 2005 7:07 PM | Report abuse

The British have a two week window during which campaigning takes place. Ptiy the US can not follow suit. Certainly, campaign finance reform would get a boost? Suppose the US process was alloted two months?

Posted by: Dusa Gyllensvard | December 8, 2005 7:03 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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