Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Choice Not Consensus: A Plea From a Less Important State

By David Bozeman

Most registered Republicans will not pick their party's presidential nominee this election. Because of a curious tradition in our electoral process, voters in a handful of small states will get to anoint a frontrunner early this winter.
Now, granted, Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina don't always decide a presidential nominee, but we know the drill. Candidates all but live in these early states. Voters, particularly in Iowa and New Hampshire, are wooed and courted, and some are even known by name. These ordinary, unknown Americans resemble, for a fleeting moment, unlikely tie-breakers in an urgent moment of national deadlock.

In 2008, with no early GOP frontrunner, some of the talking heads were delighting in the prospect of a floor fight at the Republican National Convention to select a nominee (Romney, Rudy Guiliani and Mike Huckabee led, with John McCain rounding out the field). Of course, John McCain secured the nomination surprisingly early (March), thus by the time North Carolina's primary rolled around, no GOP contender had come to town or called my home or even run an ad. While that scenario is not a guaranteed repeat for 2012, it's not unlikely, either. Just ask voters in Indiana and West Virginia (also with primaries in early May).

Interestingly, the Gingrich campaign recently announced plans to launch a committee in North Carolina, with former state GOP chairman Tom Fetzer heading the effort. Party officials are enthused that North Carolina could matter after all. Yes, after all. Indeed, my vote might very well count.

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