Thursday, October 6, 2011

First Florida, Now Nevada – A Rush To Judgment, & Who Benefits?

This just in: the Nevada Republican Party has announced that, in response to Florida moving up its primary date to 31 January, it will move up the Nevada primary as well, to 15 January.  Now other states are moving in the same direction, including the distinct possibility of South Carolina.

The resulting turmoil in the Republican Party will be needless and self-inflicted.  The purported reasoning is for states other than the traditional New Hampshire and Iowa to gain importance in the process by leap-frogging to the head of the line, but surely those involved in this political scrum know full well that the other states’ jockeying for position will nullify whatever advantage is to be gained.  What does this really accomplish?

It is this: it helps solidify whatever status a particular candidate has at this moment, rather than run the risk that over time another candidate will gain a better position before the primaries kick off in earnest.  And what candidate stands to gain the most?  Mitt Romney.

Romney has been running for president for over five years (or even longer, depending on your definition).  Despite his long run and his sizeable war chest (ready to be augmented again by his own fortune), he just cannot break out of the 18-25% approval category, and he is buffeted by new events and players, with the Republican electorate constantly in favour of a new face rather than throwing in with him.  His focus on Florida has been intense and he has a strong structure already in place there – and has for some time.  This move of Florida cannot have been done without some sort of influence from the Romney camp.  And now Nevada, right next to Utah and with a similar population, a strong Romney bastion as well.  This has Mitt’s fingerprints all over it.

A few moments ago, Jon Huntsman, speaking with Megan Kelly on Fox News, said, “Basing it on the word that’s coming out of Nevada, that there was some involvement of the Romney campaign in terms of influencing its direction toward earlier in the queue.”  Huntsman, former governor of Utah and trying to dip from the same deep well as Romney, must have some keen insight into the background of the movements in Nevada, and I believe the tea leaves are painted in place to make the reading that much easier.

The states and their Republican Party structures ultimately have nothing to gain and much to lose (such as penalized delegate blocs), and the only person to gain an advantage is Mitt Romney.  This is his doing.

Update: Politico agrees, and adds other sources.  It also has a lengthy article from last week that goes into some detail to outline a strategy of the Romney campaign to move Romney-friendly states into better positions for him, such as Utah in particular.

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