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WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

If you like, you can send Magpie an email!



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Tuesday, January 20, 2004

How come Iowa and New Hampshire matter so much?

If you don't live in the US, the fact that the voters in a couple of small states have such a huge influence on who becomes president may not make a whole lot of sense. In fact, it probably doesn't make a lot of sense to a fair number of people who've grown up in the US, either. However, there are indeed reasons for why the US uses the system it does to pick a president. And, luckily for the terminally confused, Asia Times is leading off its coverage of this year's US elections with a primer on the presidential nominating process.

The nominating calendar changes from election to election, but the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary are always the first meaningful events of the primary season. New Hampshire, thanks to state law, has been the first primary since 1952, and receives a number of benefits from this position. Before the Iowa and New Hampshire events, the press and the candidates focus tremendous resources on those states, resulting in free publicity and an economic boon. These states also receive disproportionate federal spending owing to their disproportionate influence on the primary process. Iowa and New Hampshire are able to retain their positions out of tradition and deferential treatment from the national party committees.

One week after the New Hampshire primary will be Super Tuesday, in which five states will hold primaries and three others will hold caucuses. Super Tuesday originated in 1988 as "SuperBowl Tuesday", a nickname bestowed by the media when several states scheduled their events together to counteract the influence of the New Hampshire and Iowa contests. The date of primaries and caucuses has a big influence on the nominating process and affects candidates' campaign strategies.

The results of the Iowa caucus are a barometer of how the candidate is doing in Iowa, but it also affects financing and media coverage. A poor showing in Iowa and New Hampshire can be a disaster to struggling candidates, as the results are a national story. Thus the winner of the Iowa caucus becomes a national winner, rather that merely the winner of a local caucus. Furthermore, poor results affect the decision of donors to give money to the campaign. Candidates who fare strongly in Iowa and New Hampshire experience a windfall of media attention, and reassure potential donors of their staying power.

| | Posted by Magpie at 8:49 AM | Get permalink




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