The battle for a party's primary nomination largely involves what sort of momentum a candidate can build during the primary campaigns. More than any other Republican candidates, Mitt Romney and John McCain have strategically announced the support of new prominent fundraisers, boosters, and staff each week to, in my mind, give the appearance of surging momentum for their respective candidacies. Creating this appearance is a tricky political calculation though, because each state can differ so markedly in its politics and its allegiances. Romney has seemed to focus more on Iowa and New Hampshire this past year while McCain has paid special attention to South Carolina (where his political fortunes crumbled in the 2000 primaries). It makes sense considering these are all key states in a very front-loaded 2008 Republican primary calender:
Front End of the Republican 2008 Primary CalenderIt's difficult to say who this calender benefits most at this point. Despite McCain's 2000 victory there, Romney would appear to have a leg up in New Hampshire because of its proximity to Massachusetts. Romney also looks to have an advantage in Iowa. He has landed key Republican support in Iowa and will benefit from McCain's past anti-ethanol stance (one of the reasons that, in 2000, he chose to skip the Iowa caucus altogether). But McCain has built a seemingly insurmountable organizational lead in South Carolina. Romney probably has Utah locked up with McCain pocketing Arizona and New Mexico. But how will the rest of the front end primaries play out? Out of Romney and McCain, who is more likely to come out of this very crowded two week schedule with the momentum?
January 21: Iowa
January 28: New Hampshire
February 5: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and West Virginia.