Is Primary System Outgrowing Its Roots?
by Stephanie Grace - Times-Picayune (excerpt)
MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Retired racing legend Bobby Unser admits he's a political novice.
But while stumping here recently for his friend, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Unser still managed to serve up an apt analogy for a phenomenon that even the most casual observer of national politics understands.
"You guys up in New Hampshire are the trigger in the gun," Unser told the dozen or two fans who stopped by the Puritan Backroom, a popular lunch spot, to meet him. Broadening his scope to encompass lead-off-caucus state Iowa as well the home of the country's first primary, Unser wrapped up his pitch: "We get these two down, the rest of them are going to be like dominos falling."
That, in a single mixed metaphor, sums up why New Hampshire and Iowa have held on to their cachet, even though many states have moved their voting dates up the calendar in an effort to horn in on the action.
During a recent breakfast forum in the Manchester suburb of Bedford, several experts in primary politics predicted that the newly compressed calendar would actually sharpen the narrative that Unser described. Dante Scala, a political scientist at the University of New Hampshire, said the early states' role isn't to pile up delegates -- neither has that many -- but to signal which candidates are "electable."