The New York Times reports that four large states -- California, Florida, Illinois and New Jersey -- are likely to move their primaries up to February 5, joining a crush of 8 other states already having primaries on that date. The experts are in almost comic disagreement on what it all means, but they agree on one thing: it will have big (and perhaps unexpected) implications.
The conventional wisdom is that this will help Hillary Clinton since she is anticipated to be the big money-raiser. However, I think this is a tough schedule for her:
Iowa Caucus (01/14/08): Edwards is tailor-made for this state. He did well there in 2004 and he's polling well there now.
Nevada Caucus (01/19/08): This is good for Southwest boy Richardson, and the union presence might help Edwards.
New Hampshire Primary (01/22/08): Obama is leading in the polls and really seems to relate to voters in this state.
South Carolina Primary (01/29/08): Neighbor John Edwards won this state handily in 2004. The black vote might benefit Obama, but Hillary and Edwards won't concede it.
SuperTuesday (02/05/08): Could be as many as twelve states... a real national primary that will require big bucks to win.
I think the net effect of this move will be to make it more difficult for insurgents, like Carter in '76, to win. It will also make the "internet primary" -- the competition for grass-roots online support that Dean won so handily in 2004 -- much more important. And sadly, it will provide less of an opportunity for Presidential candidates to be scrutinized and vetted.