The RNC’s best laid plans are about to be shattered by — who else? — Florida. The Republican National Committee had hoped to push back the start of the presidential primary season by a month, from early January in the 2008 election to early February this time around. Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada would get to hold their contests first — they have somehow secured this as their birthright — and then everyone else. But now Florida is poised to move up its primary to January 31, likely causing the Early Four to hold their votes in early- and mid-January, which is what the RNC wanted to avoid all along.
It’s certainly a pointless and childish move by Florida’s legislature — they’re going to piss off a lot of people and have nothing to show for it. And yet, at the same time, we can’t help feel for Florida, too. You could easily argue that it’s the most important swing state in the 2012 general election. But it still has to wait in line behind states like South Carolina and New Hampshire? Why is it so important to find out which GOP candidate is strongest in those states? President Obama isn’t going to compete in South Carolina or the rest of the Deep South. Unlike the rest of New England, New Hampshire is up for grabs in the general, but it only has four electoral votes.
It’s not that the GOP shouldn’t care at all about these primaries — you want to make sure that you nominate someone with a broad geographic and ideological appeal, after all. But under the current system, the entire nominating process has the (admittedly slim) potential, if someone dominates the early four states, to essentially wrap up before it even gets to Florida. This would be like the Yankees saving their ace pitcher, CC Sabathia, for Game Four in their upcoming best-of-five playoff series. It would be the most baffling strategic decision in baseball history. If we were Florida, we might throw a tantrum too.