Winter hog-wash

Voters in American presidential primaries usually don't get confused until they try to figure out what the candidates are saying. But this time the Democrats have added a new wrinkle: nobody's sure when the first primaries will be held. And the arguments over the dates aren't to be believed.

According to the national Democratic party no state's primary can be earlier than March 13 next year, with a couple of exceptions. So New Hampshire's will be either Feb. 28 or March 6, and Iowa's (a caucus, actually) either Feb. 20 or 27. Maine's will be March 4th, which will or will not make it the first New England contest, depending. Is that clear, so far?

One more thing: Vermont's will be March 6, but that doesn't count because its delegates don't have to do what the voters want. (Probably none of them legally have to, but that's another story.)

Actually it doesn't make much difference who's on first for the Democrats - these wintry primaries are all held in the wrong part of the country. They ought to be someplace hot: in below zero temperatures what shivering candidate wants to tell an Iowa hog it's beautiful?

Why not hold the first primaries in, say, sunny Hawaii, or the Virgin Islands? All those walk-out-refrigerator states could come later, like May or June.

In the Democrats' defense, they're doing something right on March 13: Florida , Alabama, and Georgia are holding primaries then. But so are so many in thermal gear places that candidates' baggage handlers could become confused, sending sandals and sports shirts to Massachusetts, but overshoes and parkas to Florida.

Compared with the logistics, actually picking the candidate should be a breeze.

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