Early Home State Primaries Favor Kamala Harris and Beto O'Rourke, But ‘you Still Have to Do Well in Iowa'

WASHINGTON — The swarm of Democratic contenders descending on Iowa and New Hampshire is growing so big that last week, the party issued an edict aimed at keeping the debates manageable when they start in a few months.Only the top 20 will get invited.That’s a lot of would-be presidents. But once voting starts, few will survive.In 2020, candidates will have precious little time to recover from early stumbles, or to capitalize on surprise wins. Because right after Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — where retail-level politicking is at a premium — the race explodes into a massive Super Tuesday that includes the two biggest prizes, California and Texas.That puts a premium on money and organization. And it likely means a big boost for home state favorites: Sen. Kamala Harris in California and, in Texas, Julián Castro and maybe Beto O’Rourke, too.By the time the dust settles that Super Duper Tuesday, more than a third of all unpledged delegates will be parceled out.Candidates who neglect the big states as they’re trudging through the snow in Manchester, N.H., and holding town halls at a Pizza Ranch in Ottumwa, Iowa, will not have time to recover.They’ll need to round up money for ads, volunteers and staff if they have any hope of being competitive in the mega-states.It’s a major challenge.“You’ve got to get your campaign rolling in several places at once,” said Timothy Hagle, a University of Iowa political scientist. But “you still have to do well in Iowa.”Texas has 20 media markets. California has 11. These states aren’t like New Hampshire, where most of the electorate is within a three-hour drive. Reaching millions of voters requires massive spending on advertising.In 1976, Jimmy Carter, an obscure Georgia governor, went all in on Iowa and pulled off a win that catapulted him to the nomination. Could such a feat happen in 2020, given the sequence of contests?Not likely, say the experts.“It would take a heck of a lot of things falling into place,” said Josh Putnam, a political scientist behind the authoritative Frontloading blog, which tracks rules and schedules for primaries.  Continue reading...

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