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Friday, December 22, 2006

Nevada - Caucus Envy?!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

You probably read this story.

  • "The Nevada Democratic Party announced that it is hiring two Iowa Democratic veterans to run the Nevada 2008 presidential caucus. Jean Hessburg who was executive director of the Iowa Democratic Party in 2002 and 2004 elections will organize Nevada's Democratic caucus which will be held in early 2007. Jayson Sime who was Iowa's Democratic Party field and canvass director in 2004 will be the assistant to Hessburg. The Nevada Democratic presidential caucus will now be the No. 2 only five days after Iowa for the 2008 presidential marathon."
Iowa's caucuses have been so important precisely because they have been the first event in the American race for the White House. Since they became important in the 1970's, other states have been eying the first place in what can only be called "caucus envy" - Freud may have written about this but I'm not sure! It is a deep psychological sense of inadequacy at not being "as big" as the Iowa caucuses in giving presidential contenders visibility and the big "mo" - MOMENTUM!

Now comes late breaking word that New Jersey is also suffering from this condition. It goes more or less like this:

  • TRENTON, N.J. --New Jersey lawmakers have approved a plan that would move the state near the front of the presidential primary lineup in a bid to give the Garden State more influence in selecting candidates. Proponents of the move say it's needed because presidential candidates often visit New Jersey to raise money but don't court votes because the state's primary has been scheduled well after races were decided. The state Senate voted 33-5 to move the state's presidential primary to the first Tuesday in February.
Here is another spin on this:
  • "New Jersey will move from the back of the line almost all the way to the front. What had been the last presidential primary in the nation will now be held Feb. 5, 2008 - behind only the Iowa caucus (Jan. 14), Nevada caucus (Jan. 19), New Hampshire primary (Jan. 22) and South Carolina primary (Jan. 29). The Garden State joins what will be a new "Super Tuesday," as Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, New Mexico, North Carolina and Utah also are planning to hold primaries on the first Tuesday in February."

Now pay close attention here because this is where Freud comes into the picture:

  • "New Jersey lawmakers last year voted to hold the presidential primary in late February, but had to move it even earlier as other states kept rushing their primaries toward the front. The move recognizes the long-standing resentment [one could say sense of inadequacy and helplessness] among voters that New Jersey was little more than a bystander when it came to choosing presidential candidates."
In Iowa we understand that being first means Iowa is always looking over its shoulders because someone is coming fast from behind.

We also understand that the Iowa caucuses have been an opportunity for little known candidates with very little money to test their message and personal political skills and style. "Retail politics", going from voter to voter rather than from TV Media Market to TV Media Market, has been a very useful process in the winnowing of candidates. A huge ragional or national primary would probably eliminate the lesser known and poorly funded aspirants to the White House.

How long can this last? Not foreover but Iowa has had a good run and done a great service to US democracy.

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