Could Florida move up even further?. Florida's decision to hold its primary on Jan. 29 was the proximate cause of SC's decision to move. Yes -- the war of attrition could continue. But unlike South Carolina, where the state party can change the date whenever it wants, Florida's legislature has to pass legislation, again.
Could South Carolina move again? Says SC GOP chairman Katon Dawson: "South Carolina has the ability to move and we certainly move, but I don't see a scenario where that happens."
Why did Dawson act now? The Republican National Committee set an early September deadline for states to submit their delegate selection plans.
What will the South Carolina Democratic Party do? Still unclear. It has options but chairperson Carol Khare Fowler was instrumental in setting this new calendar in still-drying concrete. Shes being pulled into two directions: the national party doesn't want her to move and her state constituencies might demand it.
What will the RNC chairman do? He'll cut half the delegates from each state that holds early contests and try to resist the pressure of the eventual nominee to seat them. But the RNC will find it hard to enforce its own rules.
Does Howard Dean have a trump card? Sort of. If New Hampshire selects delegates in December, he can refuse to sit the entire state delegation. Iowa has an out: it technically won't choose its convention delegates until later in 2008. Note: Florida's state legislature has to change the date, while South Carolina's GOP can move on its own. Right now, the DNC plans to penalize any state holding delegate selection contests before Feb. 5.
Would the Democratic nominee exert pressure on Dean to sit all the delegates? Yes. It's a conflict of powers. Dean has de jure power to refuse to sit down and control over the convention's credential operation. But the nominee has precedent and implied power, and neither Dean nor the nominee would want a public relations fight.
Which candidates benefits the most from these changes? The non-frontrunners, clearly. As Dawson said today: "It gives a candidate like Mike Huckabee a chance." That is, candidates can survive a crash in New Hampshire ( a la Ronald Reagan in 1980) and technically recover. In theory, since Rudy Giuliani's strategy is predicated on a swing from Florida to California, he has to reconfigure some of his plans. But while an elongated calendar reduces the amount of influence that each specific contest exerts on the next, it's not clear that losing the first three contests spread out over the next month and a half would be advisable.
Will Katon Dawson be the next GOP chairman? Unlikely. He has angered the major Republican campaigns in his state.
Will we be in this mess in 2012? Unclear. There will be moves at both party conventions to change the rules again, but so long as Republican Parties remain incorporated entities in relation to the RNC and the DNC functions more as an umbrella organization for its state parties, an enforceable, agreed upon solution is unlikely. That said, the two parties have begun to talk about a joint proposal.
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