California's new early primary makes money, not retail politics, the key to picking a presidential nominee
The Law of Unintended Consequences has only begun to work its magic on the 2020 presidential nomination process, promising endless trouble for the Democrats, with their huge field of potential candidates. Unless matters change, the GOP is most likely to re-nominate the current POTUS, exempting it from the chaos and turmoil likely to multiply as states jockey for influence. My colleagues Rick Moran and Monica Showalter have already insightfully commented on the gigantic ramifications of California's decision to move up its presidential primary, grabbing clout in the selection of nominees. Both posts are well worth reading. But I want to add a simple point that neither touched on: the key to any statewide California electoral victory is money, because the state contains not only around 35-40 million people (nobody knows how many illegals are here), but two of the nation's most expensive media markets, L.A. and the S.F. Bay Area, and two others, San Diego and Sacramento, far bigger and more expensive than Des Moines or Manchester.
Anyone who wants to take an electoral prize in California needs to bring tens of millions of dollars to the party. The charm of Iowa and New Hampshire has always been that both states could be impacted by a candidate pressing the flesh and attending coffee parties. Dark horses like Jimmy Carter, who rocketed to electoral prominence after an unexpectedly good showing in Iowa, might as well stay home and let the big-money boys and girls run the show in California.
I don't expect New Hampshire and Iowa to sit back and let California steal their glory, but they threaten to bring us toward a permanent presidential campaign. If California tries to match them, the attraction of its vast pot of delegates will be overwhelming, unless at least a month for fundraising exists between the early birds and the big kahuna of California.
There is plenty of time for the Law of Unintended Consequences to work its magic. The run for president in 2020 always was going to be peculiar, given the refusal of the Democrats to concede the legitimacy of the 2016 election, a historic stain on their reputation. Now the prospects are that the race will be bizarre in multiple dimensions.