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Daniel Weintraub

California Insider

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Sacramento Bee Columnist Daniel Weintraub

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« February 7, 2007 | | February 12, 2007 »
February 9, 2007

The early presidential primary

Someone asked me yesterday if I thought moving up the presidential primary would really benefit Californians in any tangible way. My answer: probably not.

Are the candidates going to come here and pander to our interests? First they have to figure out what "our interests" mean in a state of 37 million people divided along ethnic, income and ideological lines. Then they have to take some posiiton that somehow aligns with those interests, win the primary, win their party's nomination and win the general election, all before they even have a prayer of implementing whatever promise they might have made. So yes, California voters would get plenty of attention if our primary meant something. But it's a long way from that attention to any real action that stems from it. The general election vote is far more important: witness Bill Clinton's endless string of trips to the state and his efforts to steer goodies our way. That had nothing to do with the date of our primary.

The real benefit of moving the primary, if there is one, is in the sense that our votes made a difference in choosing the nominees. If Rudy is made viable by an early California primary or Hillary is put over the top or stopped in her tracks here, then Californians can be comforted by the realization that their votes mattered. So if that's important to you, then moving the primary might be significant.

On the other hand, with the rush to move all the primaries up, what happens if the California election comes and goes and there are still two candidates standing in each party's race? Then some tiny state voting in late February is going to deliver the knock-out blow to one of them. And we'll be long forgotten by then.

That could easily happen.

Bottom line: it's a crap shoot.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:25 AM



At Crossroads, a panel of experts and the public debate the future of health care in California. We'd like you to join the conversation.

Daniel Weintraub


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