I have always wondered… why are Iowa and N.H. the hot beds of political primaries? I know they are the first two, but where is that written in stone? Why, for example, wouldn’t Pennsylvania, a large industrial state, move their primary up to compete with Iowa and N.H.? By the time the primary rolls around to Pennsylvania, the nominations are usually decided. It seems to me that by moving Pennsylvania’s primary up in the calendar, the state would not only play a major role in the primary season, but money spent by candidates and the news media would increase considerably thereby adding to the state coffers… I know the legislature would have to vote to move the primary up, so my question is why don’t they? Is there a pre-ordaned order for the primaries?
New Hampshire state law requires that its Primaries be held a certain number of days ahead of any other state. Iowa may have a similar law, I do not know. Anyway it is all about politics. NH and IA are not great population states so this is the best way they can influence the nation.
ok, but so what? There should be no reason for any other state that wants to play a big part in national politics (like Wyoming or Idaho, for example) to do the same thing. And at the same time benefit from the dollars that get spent there. So if N.H. has a law that says their primary has to be a certain number of days ahead of every other state (except Iowa), then what do they do if Pennsylvania’s state legislature votes to have their primary the day before N.H.'s?
What’s the great allure to having your state’s primary first? More opportunity to spread out the vote over a bigger field of losers and fools? I’d rather sit back and vote for a loser or fool that won’t get his butt kicked when the larger states weigh in.
Oh, and don’t kid yourself. The big bucks are reserved for the states with the the most delegates.
Well, the allure is that more money will, I think, get spent in the state. Although I agree that the big states see their share of money, I recall that in the last primaries, Dole had to cut his spending considerably in Pennsylvania (and other states) due to budget problems and big spending early on. My thinking is that if a big state were first, they would get their share of money and then some. States like Iowa and N.H., if pushed back in the pack would see less. And who cares if your state votes for a loser? Wasn’t too long ago that Pat Roberson finished second in N.H. But who cares now? I personally would like to have the choice of all of my party’s nominations, not just the ones that are left standing. I figure that this time around, Pennsylvania Republicans will see Bush, McCain, and maybe Forbes… but won’t see money from candidates like Buchanan, Alexander or Smith. The Democrats only have two viable candidates right now, so that’s probably not going to be an issue.
New Hampshire and Iowa are important for another reason beyond the earliness of their primaries:
They are also traditionally conservative states, but not radically conservative, rather more of a moderate conservative. It used to be (but is not anymore) that these states were a good indicator of how most of the nation would go because they tended to weed out the wackos. If Massachusetts and Hawaii had their primaries real early, and we used them as an early indicator, we’d be much farther off from how most of the nation votes. Unfortunately, New Hampshires track record in the 1990’s has fallen off considerably, especially since it is no longer as moderate as it used to be. Three distinct political camps exist, and all three are moving farther from the center. The Libertarians are stronger in NH than in any other state save Alaska. The south has been “invaded” by Massachusetts Democrats(an actual political breed, not just Dems from the Bay State) who weren’t content with ruining their own state but decided to take on the challenge of ruining New Hampshire as well, and the reactionarily conservative native New Hampshireites, centered around Manchester and spreading north, who have always been a bit wacky, but are gaining political clout in the 1990’s.
Sorry to bore you all with NH politics, but I’m a native Granite Stater, and even though I don’t live there any more, still follow these things closely…
So in summary: NH and Iowa not only early, but used to be moderate as well.
Jason R Remy
“One pill makes you taller, and one pill makes you small, but the ones that mother gives you don’t do anything at all”
– Jefferson Airplane * White Rabbit * (Slick, G. 1966)
Now, I don’t know nuthin’ ‘bout New Hampster, but I’ll tell ya, here in Iowa, we love a good buffet. Those presidential candidates come around, stuff our faces and promise the moon… if’n the scrambled eggs weren’t too runny and ya show up in a brand new, fresh outta the package flannel shirt, you’re sure to get some of what the political analysts call “positive feedback”. Basically we’re a guinea pig audience. Since most of us is Republican and in the insurance business, we come off as real upstanding, levelheaded folks, so them candidates think that if they can get us rousted up, they can get the whole durn country under their belts, too. What those candidates ain’t figgered out yet’s that we just go from one buffet to the other, cheering for whoever’s footin’ the bill. We don’t actually give a rat’s ass who wins till the votin’ is done. Then we complain about it loud enough so that next voting time, the candidates think they need to pacify us first. They head on back here with their buffets and new flannel shirts. Works every time.
Veni, Vidi, Visa … I came, I saw, I bought.
A small but important distinction: New Hampshire has always had the earliest PRIMARY. What Iowa has are caucuses. And, until relatively recently, the Iowa caucuses were small and virtually ignored. In fact, as recently as 1976, there was virtually no press coverage of the Iowa caucuses. Until 1976, coverage of the PResidential race began with the New Hampshire primary.
That began to change in 1980- partly because there was so much more media coverage of politics than ever before, and partly because George Bush chose to make it the focal point of his campaign. Bush reasoned that, if he was to gain press attention and momentum (“Big Mo,” to use his silly phrase), he’d have to derail the seemingly-inevitable nomination of Ronald Reagan. He spent months campaigning in Iowa, hoping for a big win, that would show Ronald Reagan to be vulnerable.
That Iowa campaign was a bit embarrassing to us right-wingers, actually. The main thing I remember about the Iowa campaign was that all the hard-line, anti-communist, Russia-bashing conservative candidates were pandering shamelessly to Iowa farmers, insisting that we should sell more wheat to Russia! (Only the pompous, annoying, liberal Republican John Anderson had the gumption to resist this pandering.)
Anyway, Bush DID win the Iowa caucuses… which only led Reagan to campaign a lot harder in New Hampshire, and go on to win handily. Regardless, ever since 1980, candidates have spent a LOT more time campaigning in Iowa than they used to. SInce these are party caucuses, rather than primaries open to everyone, it’s possible for a fringe candidate to do very well in the Iowa caucuses (just ask Pat Robertson). That’s one reason the Iowa caucuses don’t mean much.
Iowa has proven to be an incredibly POOR indicator of a candidate’s strength. Historically, New Hampshire USED to be a good indicator, but it isn’t any more.
Ever noticed that short guys tend to strut?
I think it was Carter who first made political hay out of the Iowa caucuses. He had almost zero name recognition before he campaigned there in 1976. Then after that he started to appear on the political radar.
The Democrats didn’t really run a high visibility candidate in 1976 (Kennedy didn’t run, Humphrey was ailing, McGovern was persona non grata, Wallace was sick, Muskie had had enough).
Carter made a push in Iowa and got himself recognized and set apart from the Mo Udalls, Frank Churches, Fred Harrises, and such of 1976.
He went on to win in New Hampshire and only Udall was able to hang around long enough and then Jerry Brown came around at the end to win a few Western primaries, but the train had already left the station.
Bush was trying to duplicate Carter’s strategy because he felt that if he won in Iowa he would have (his words) “The big Mo.”
Napoleon complex. That’s what I meant.
If NH is holding their primary lets just say Feb 1st and PA decides to hold their primary Jan 25th then NH state law says NH must hold their primary before then. So in this case no later than Jan 24th. This way NH must always come first.
Didn’t Maine used to have the first primary, or at least a very early one? There used to be a saying, “As Maine goes, so goes the nation.”
Well, let’s see… Mark, what would happen if PA passed a law saying THEIR primary would be first? There’s nothing constitutional against it. Even if N.H. has a law stating that their primary is first, no other state is bounded by that. So then what would happen? I know states have moved their primaries to join “Super Tuesday”… why not move a primary earlier?
And Astorian, you are right to make the distinction. But to the average voter, the difference between caucus and primary is minimal. The huddled masses are just looking for who won. No one cares to understand the process. And even if Iowa and N.H. have been poor predictors of late, my guess is that after today, John Kasich, Bob Smith, Lamar Alexander, Dan Quayle, et.al. are pretty much kaput, especially if there is no significant change in N.H.'s outcome. Any money trickling in to these campaigns will dry up.
I guess I still don’t see why no other state moves their primaries to compete with the Iowa caucuses and the N.H. primaries.
I think it’s appalling that these caucusus and primaries and what-all are happening a FULL YEAR before the political conventions!
Other countries – England, Canada, etc – manage their elections within about a six to eight week period… and for a fraction of the expense.
“As goes Maine, so goes to the nation” referred to Maine’s practice of having its congressional elections a little bit earlier than the rest of the country (I believe it was in September.)
I believe that Congress has prohibited that practice now.
two main reasons for that: a) the parliamentary system (the leaders of the parties are normally chosen well in advance, since they have to be working in Parliament), and b) restrictions on campaign spending.
Maine used to have its Presidental elections in Sept according to my encycolpedia. There is no constiutional requirement saying the elections must all be held on the same day.
Also it is true PA could pass its own law saying they hold their primaries first. In fact I believe a few years back something, not quite the same, but similar happened. In fact some states even have tried having Democratic & Repbulican primaries on seperate days.
The point being it’s similar to a bank if everyone withdrew out all their money at once it would colapse. But most likely that ain’t gonna happen. Eventually one state would have to give way. Plus you throw in the political parties themselves. They formulate how many delgates get sent from a particular state. This is considerable power. Example: A state that has always voted democratic is going to get a bigger percentage of delegates from the Democratic Party than the Republican Party. This being reasonable as why give a state influence over what Republican candidate gets picked if it just votes for a Democrat anyway.
So political pressure has a lot to do with keeping NH first. Until the 50’s Primaries were not even considered “elections” and voting rights laws didn’t apply. Example: Many state in the south had laws restricting blacks from voting in primaries. Since the Democrats (at that time) always won, it effectively restricted and prevented blacks from having a voice in government.