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.