New Hampshire primary at Christmastime? Election 2012 could get weird.
Election 2012 voters in New Hampshire might have to shop for holiday gifts and presidential candidates at the same time. The state is considering a Dec. 6 primary to maintain its first-in-the-nation status.
New Hampshire voters might have to shop for holiday gifts and presidential candidates at the same time this year. Traditionally, they’ve been able to leisurely size up presidential-primary contenders at winter fairs and wait until the new year to make their final choice.Skip to next paragraph
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But this year, “Dec.” could stand for “Decision” in New Hampshire – with a primary vote possibly to be set as early as Dec. 6 in order for the state to maintain its first-in-the-nation status.
For anyone upset by the prospect of voting starting so early, New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner issued a statement Wednesday equivalent to a teenager’s gesture for “Talk to the hand.” But in this case it’s “Talk to Nevada.”
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“It’s really up to Nevada,” Mr. Gardner says. He goes on to urge the state to move its caucus date from Jan. 14 to Jan. 17, which would allow New Hampshire to hold its primary on Tuesday, Jan. 10.
New Hampshire has held the nation’s first primary since 1920, and since 1975, the tradition has been codified in state law, which currently mandates that its primary fall at least seven days before “similar elections that would challenge our traditional status,” Gardner writes.
Jan. 3 would have been a possibility, but Iowa has tentatively set its caucus for that day. (The Iowa caucus has not been deemed a “similar election” as the Nevada caucus has, so New Hampshire could hold its primary after Jan. 3).
Ruling out dates too close to the holidays, Gardner wrote in a statement (pdf) that Dec. 6 and Dec. 13 “are realistic options, and we have logistics in place to make either date happen if needed.”
There is no official response from Nevada yet. Perhaps the reply will be, “Talk to Florida.”
Florida started the acceleration of the calendar when it set its primary date of Jan. 31, defying national Republican party rules and prompting South Carolina and Nevada to shift to earlier January dates to preserve their place with Iowa and New Hampshire as the first four states.
But it’s Nevada that’s taking the heat at the moment. Jon Huntsman, for one, said Thursday he won’t campaign in Nevada unless the date for its caucus is changed to appease New Hampshire, and he’s urging other candidates to do the same.
And the pressure may work, says Michael Dennehy, an unaffiliated Republican strategist in New Hampshire.
If Nevada doesn’t budge, it will suffer, he predicts: “Let’s face it, the candidates care more about New Hampshire; the media care more about New Hampshire ... Delaware made that very large mistake [of moving up their vote] in 1996 and 2000, and the candidates boycotted Delaware.”