In a bid to become first in the nation and more relevant in the selection process of the GOP nomination, Florida on Friday has decided to move their primary up to Jan 31st ahead of Iowa and New Hampshire.
From the Jackson County Floridian (Lauren Delgado) - This early date violates the rules of the Republican Party, which say that Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada can hold a primary on or after Feb. 1 during the year the national convention is held. All other states are to hold primaries on or after the first Tuesday in March during the year the national convention is held.
Because of this violation, Florida will lose half of its delegates at the party convention. According to Republican National Committee officials, if New Hampshire, South Carolina or Nevada attempt to hold their primary before Florida, they also will lose half of their delegates. Iowa has a nonbinding caucus, so it will not be penalized for not following the rules.
UPDATE: on Oct 1st, Nevada reversed their decision to move up their dates into January and instead opted for Feb 4th citing they could not afford to loose half their delegates like Florida can (28 in Nevada 99 in Florida). Officials in Nevada blame Florida for the calendar mess.
How Important is it to be First?
That depends on who you ask. The vast majority of potential nominees who win their first or second (Iowa, or New Hampshire) primary typically gain significant momentum both politically and financially in the races and tend to win the nomination. This statistical anomaly is typically due to the major news coverage and campaigning focus on these two states. Take a look at these lists ...
|Republicans - New Hampshire|
|January 8, 2008||Senator John McCain||Governor Mitt Romney, Governor Mike Huckabee, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Congressman Ron Paul, Senator Fred Thompson, Congressman Duncan Hunter|
|January 27, 2004||President George W. Bush||(no viable opposition)|
|February 1, 2000||Senator John McCain||Governor George W. Bush, Malcolm S. "Steve" Forbes, Jr., Ambassador Alan Keyes, and Gary L. Bauer|
|February 20, 1996||Pat Buchanan||Senator Bob Dole, Governor A. Lamar Alexander, Steve Forbes, Senator Richard G. "Dick" Lugar, and Ambassador Alan Keyes|
|February 18, 1992||President George H. W. Bush||Patrick J. "Pat" Buchanan|
|February 16, 1988||Vice President George H. W. Bush||Senator Bob Dole, Congressman Jack F. Kemp, Jr., Governor Pierre S. "Pete" du Pont IV, and Reverend Marion G. "Pat" Robertson|
|February 28, 1984||President Ronald Reagan||(no viable opposition)|
|February 26, 1980||Governor Ronald Reagan||Ambassador George H. W. Bush, Senator Howard H. Baker, Jr., Congressman John B. Anderson, Congressman Philip M. "Phil" Crane, and Senator Bob Dole|
|February 24, 1976||President Gerald R. Ford||Governor Ronald Reagan|
|March 7, 1972||President Richard Nixon||Congressman Paul N. "Pete" McCloskey, Jr. and Congressman John M. Ashbrook|
|March 12, 1968||former Vice President Richard M. Nixon||Governor George Romney|
|March 10, 1964||Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.*||Senator Barry M. Goldwater, Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller, and former Vice President Richard Nixon|
|March 8, 1960||Vice President Richard Nixon||(no viable opposition)|
|March 13, 1956||President Dwight D. Eisenhower||(no viable opposition)|
|March 11, 1952||General Dwight D. Eisenhower||Senator Robert Taft and Governor Harold E. Stassen|
|1948||Governor Harold Stassen||Governor Thomas E. Dewey|
|Democrats - New Hampshire|
|January 8, 2008||Senator Hillary Clinton||Senator Barack Obama, Former Senator John Edwards, Governor Bill Richardson, Representative Dennis Kucinich and Former Senator Mike Gravel.|
|January 27, 2004||Senator John Kerry||Former Governor Howard B. Dean III, General Wesley K. Clark, Senator John Edwards, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich and Reverend Al Sharpton.|
|February 1, 2000||Vice President Al Gore||Former Senator Bill Bradley|
|February 20, 1996||President Bill Clinton||(no viable opposition)|
|February 18, 1992||Senator Paul Tsongas||Governor Bill Clinton, Senator Bob Kerrey, Senator Tom Harkin, Former Governor Jerry Brown, and former mayor Larry Agran|
|February 16, 1988||Governor Michael Dukakis||Congressman Richard A. "Dick" Gephardt, Senator Paul Simon, Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, and Senator Al Gore|
|February 28, 1984||Senator Gary Hart||Former Vice President Walter Mondale, Senator John Glenn, Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, and Former Senator George McGovern|
|February 26, 1980||President Jimmy Carter||Senator Edward Kennedy, and Governor Jerry Brown.|
|February 24, 1976||Governor Jimmy Carter||Congressman Mo Udall, Senator Birch Bayh, Former Senator Fred R. Harris, and Former Ambassador R. Sargent Shriver|
|March 7, 1972||Senator Edmund Muskie||Senator George McGovern and Mayor Samuel William Yorty|
|March 12, 1968||President Lyndon B. Johnson||Senator Eugene McCarthy|
|March 10, 1964||President Lyndon B. Johnson||(no viable opposition)|
|March 8, 1960||Senator John F. Kennedy||businessman Paul C. Fisher|
|March 13, 1956||Senator Estes Kefauver||Former Governor Adlai Stevenson|
|March 11, 1952||Senator Estes Kefauver||President Harry S. Truman|
The lists clearly show the recent winners of New Hampshire moving on to compete in the presidential election (recent exceptions of 1992 (D) and 2000 (R) )
So Whats Up with Florida
For one ... It may be a pride thing. Since 2000 Florida has been the butt of election jokes ranging from geriatric related issues to lousy election ballots and possible corruption. So to put an end to this, what better way than to be the "Proving Ground" for the next nomination. Florida also claims to have the most diverse citizenry, and so should hold a premiere position in the selection process. They feel that their diversity is key to nominating a "proper" candidate that is much more representative of the nation as a whole and the move would "Spread" the media coverage (and financial rewards) appropriately, thereby not giving any one candidate a clear advantage early on, and having other candidates be able to compete.
The original "First in the nation States" have threatened to move their primaries to December 2010.
Should that happen Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina - the only four states allowed to vote before March 6 under Republican National Committee rules - have collectively vowed to move the dates of their caucuses and primaries ahead of Florida to protect their early voting status.
This would put Florida into the 5th position nationwide for primaries. Still, this is much better than being in the middle of the list somewhere in March. In that middle position, primaries become less important as a clear leader has typically already been chosen by then.
Is This a Good Thing?
Anytime scrutiny is given to the election process, its a good thing. The fact that so many people, media outlets, and political pundits (as well as officials) are even discussing Florida's decision puts pressure on party leaders to re-evaluate the cause and effect. Maybe it would be better to have Florida first? After all, they certainly do have a more diverse population than New Hampshire.
In any case, it is shaping up to be a very interesting election season.
Florida Changes GOP Primary to Jan 31st.
Jackson County News Article on Florida Primary Jan 31st
CNN - Florida to Hold Primary Jan 31st
Washington Post Article on Nevada Moving Primary ahead of Florida
Politico - Nevada Changes Their Minds