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Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Nomination Calendar

As we discuss in our chapter on political parties, the presidential nomination calendar puts some states at an advantage and others at a disadvantage. In Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, The Times Leader reports that the GOP field may shrink by the time of the Pennsylvania primary on April 24.
“If they’re lucky, there might be two choices,” opined Tom Baldino, a political science professor at Wilkes University.
Dave Sosar, a political science professor at King’s College, agreed, saying that unless former House Speaker Newt Gingrich can pull off some surprise victories over the next two months, Pennsylvania voters will realistically be choosing between front-runner Mitt Romney and a group of candidates who’ve already either removed their names from consideration or have no mathematical chance at securing the nomination.
The historic order of things, or as Keystone College political science professor Jeff Brauer calls it “political tradition,” is why states go the polls in the order they do in presidential election years.
“Basically, states are expected to keep their order and respect the political traditions of the primaries. Switching the order means major unexpected shifts in strategy for the candidates and the political parties which they are not interested in doing,” Brauer said.
Baldino said Pennsylvania can still be a viable player in the nominating process if Romney makes some missteps or Gingrich builds on his momentum after winning South Carolina and continues to capture some states to remain within reach of Romney.
“It’s an optimistic scenario,” Baldino said, noting that he doesn’t believe Gingrich can win Florida’s primary on Tuesday, and it could spell the end for his chance. But a surprise victory would certainly shuffle things significantly and make the odds much better that Pennsylvania could still be in play.