I asked a campaign manager for one of the major presidential candidates whether the activities of the past 24 hours benefited his manager's candidate.
The reply: "Who the hell knows?"
Really: the campaigns are trying to figure it out, too.
One scenario a Republican gave me:
"You can't win NH and then not play in IA. But you can not play in IA and then win NH. If Romney screws up in NH, he has a save in IA. But if he wins IA, his momentum is stopped in NH. Right?"
One smart political reporter offers this insight into the thinking of William Gardner, the New Hampshire Secretary of State: an early December primary ensures that candidates spend time there; if the New Hampshire primary is shoehorned into January, then the pre-campaign period would be very short -- three full days between Jan. 3 and Jan. 8.
The First Read crew at NBC News has just about had it:
Welcome to the theater of the absurd. The possibility that both parties will have two separate primary calendars is growing more likely by the day, especially after the Iowa GOP set Jan. 3 as its date and the South Carolina Dems are set for Jan. 26 (when the SC GOP is going on Jan. 19). While it may make sense in the backrooms of a rules and bylaws committee meeting at the RNC or DNC, the average voter is probably going to be confused. What is the unintentional consequence of that? Will independents end up not participating in Iowa? Will only the most partisan activists know when their primary is? The fact that we're potentially inside of 80 days before voting begins and the candidates don't know EXACTLY when the various election days are seems beyond ridiculous. And this is the democracy we're trying to export around the world? Correct us if we're wrong, but this is an election for leader of the free world? Most city council and school board elections are straight forward, why can't our presidential election be that way, too? ? To put it another way, imagine if Major League Baseball -- as of right now -- had not yet decided whether the World Series would be a best-of-seven or a best-of-nine series. It's that bizarre in this thing we call our presidential nominating process.