There is an very probable upcoming event that is going flip the entire 2008 presidential race on its ear. No, I'm not talking about the "official" official Barack Obama announcement. It is that the California legislature is likely to take up the task of moving the state's primary up from June 3rd to February 5th.
This move would make California's primary the fifth one on the schedule and would dramatically change the nomination process.
The conventional wisdom says that a California primary that early in the schedule would eliminate any second and third tier candidates as it would likely cost $6-8 million dollars according to one strategist interviewed by the LA Times. I myself think it might very well cost twice that much to win. In fact, I might be tempted to sit it out. While there are a lot of eggs in that basket, do you want to bet all of yours to get them? I think it would be better to just make a good showing than win anyway.
It saves you cash to fight another day, plus there is one other thing that could come into play. You might not want to win it. I know that might sound crazy, but follow me for a minute if you will.
I've lived in the Midwest all of my life, and for whatever reason, there is a very palpable bias against any and all thing Californian, and for that reason you just might not want to be labeled the "California Candidate." This bias extends into other regions of the country as well.
It's a very strange phenomenon to see. You might think it's because of "Hollywood liberals," or "San Franciscan values" because those phrases are thrown around oh so much by conservative talking heads, but that's not really it. In fact, depending on who you talk to, it can mean anything from loony to smarmy. Again, I don't know how this started, but I do in fact see it a lot, especially among older people.
Now, it is true that we have had two presidents from California in the last forty years, but both those presidents were republicans and both ran the gauntlet of several other states before securing their party's nomination. Perhaps a California preferred republican is a little more palatable than a California preferred Democrat to the rest of the country as well.
Also, the news cycle, and the smear machines have drastically changed since then. Winning this primary may do as much harm as good on the Democratic side. I guess we'll have to wait and see though.
Found via Kevin Drum