Dick Morris (courtesy of RealClearPolitics) correctly points out that the increasingly front-loaded primary schedule has made early fundraising the single most important factor in determining the 2008 presidential nominees. It now looks as if we might have as many as two dozen states holding primaries next February 5th, right on the heels of the New Hampshire primary. The result, Morris observes, is effectively a national primary that can be contested only with a massive TV ad campaign. This means that any candidate without a sufficient war chest by this November will be ill-equipped to compete in the super-sized Tuesday in early February.
Front-loading of primaries has been going on for many years as state parties have realized that it is better to be early than to spend money on what will be an irrelevant primary in April or May. What will be new in the 2008 system is the elimination of momentum, the most exciting feature of American primary politics. In past years, a decisive win or even an unexpectedly strong showing in Iowa or New Hampshire could electrify a campaign and fuel fundraising. But in 2008 there simply won’t be enough time for a candidate to build on Iowa and New Hampshire successes.