POLITICS
08/25/2011 02:36 pm ET Updated Oct 25, 2011

This Day In The Constant Crisis Of The 2012 Primary Calendar

Emily Schultheis points us to Thursday morning's First Read column, which outlines in four paragraphs what is happening with the 2012 primary calendar. As you probably already know, Iowa and New Hampshire are, by divine fiat, the "first-in-the-nation" contests, and everyone who's not "first-in-the-nation" resents this, and so with each new cycle, we get various states waging the Global War On The Primary Calendar. The upshot? Brace yourself for the nightmare scenario!

According to Republicans monitoring this subject, there are two different timeline scenarios. The first is the RNC-sanctioned February start date: Iowa goes Feb. 6, New Hampshire Feb. 14, Nevada, Feb. 18, South Carolina Feb. 28, and Super Tuesday is March 6. The second is the more chaotic January (or even December) start date: States like Arizona and Florida -- risking losing half their delegates and other penalties -- set their primaries early, pushing Iowa, New Hampshire, and other states into January or earlier. Which scenario is more likely? Although this remains a fluid situation, one plugged-in Republican eyeing the calendar process for one of the campaigns says there’s a “99%” chance it begins in early January instead of February. So start making your New Year’s Eve plans in Des Moines now. Or at least buy refundable air tickets.

You see, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has until Sept. 2 to decide if she wants to move Arizona's primary to Jan. 31, and officials in Florida are contemplating doing something similar. If they decide to do this, Iowa and New Hampshire -- which actually has a state law mandating this -- will likely be compelled to move up the schedule. South Carolina and Nevada may follow suit. And then everyone's still unsatisfied! (Especially political reporters!)

And that's before we get into a half-page worth of crystal meth speculation on who these calendar changes benefit. Can this be boiled down? Let's try: the primary season could end up allowing a candidate to score an "early knockout." Unless it doesn't. In which case there will be a "long, bloody battle." It could all end up benefiting Rick Perry, unless it benefits Mitt Romney, in which case, Romney will benefit. Also: Florida! It's important! Especially to Mitt Romney's momentum, unless he has no momentum, in which case it will help someone else's momentum. Or, Florida may not be important at all! Who knows? Maybe the GOP candidate will be determined via "Hunger Games." Honestly, one wonders if it's possible to sit around and contemplate this stuff for months and months without colliding headlong with the barrier of mental health.

Anyway, the bottom line is that all these primaries may start in "January (or even December)," nobody seems to fear the penalties for jumping the set dates, and no one seems to have the necessary vision or leadership to prevent this chaos from intruding into every quadrennial cycle, the end.

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