Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

Florida’s Fast Break Accelerates Presidential Primary Stampede

by Pamela M. Prah, Staff Writer

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) fired the starting gun that could set off another mad dash of states jostling for early dates to choose nominees for the White House.


On May 21, Crist signed the Florida Legislature’s plan to move up the Sunshine State’s 2008 presidential primary to Jan. 29, leapfrogging a critical mass of states gravitating to primaries on what’s becoming known as “Super-Duper Tuesday” on Feb. 5.

Florida is defying threats of penalties from Republican and Democratic parties for jumping ahead in the pecking order of states choosing presidential nominees, behind voters only in Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and Wyoming.

Florida’s fast break is making an already complicated process even more uncertain. It “may be the hole in the dike,” said Andrew Smith, an expert on presidential elections at the University of New Hampshire. Other states — including New Hampshire, with the nation’s earliest primary, and South Carolina — could scramble to move up their dates to choose nominees even earlier, he predicted.

In what is shaping up as the earliest start to a presidential election in history, 13 states already are on board to vote for presidential candidates or hold nominating caucuses on Feb. 5, which is also Fat Tuesday, the final day of Mardi Gras. Three more — Colorado, Georgia and Illinois — are a governor’s signature away from joining the stampede to the Feb. 5 date.

At least 23 states in all are angling for that date in what critics of the rush now are calling “Stupid Tuesday.” That number far outpaces the 1984 “Super Tuesday” that involved 14 states. Only Kansas has bowed out of the frenzy by canceling plans for its 2008 presidential primary. Montana, New Mexico and South Dakota will vote dead last on June 3, though Montana and New Mexico are still considering chiming in earlier through caucuses.

“No question it’s out of control,” said political strategist Donna Brazile, who chairs the Democratic National Committee’s Voting Rights Institute (VRI), created after the 2000 elections to monitor voter issues. “It’s in the hands of state party chairmen and governors,” said Brazile, who was the campaign manager for Vice President Gore’s run for president in 2000.

Read the full story, including a printable PDF schedule of 2008 primary dates at

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