The unspoken fear of Democrats about moving the California primary to March

See also: "Ballot-harvesting California muscles to the front of 2020 presidential primaries"; "California's new early primary makes money, not retail politics, the key to picking a presidential nominee"

When California moved its primary date up from June to March, the entire character of the presidential race was changed in an instant.  New Hampshire and Iowa – two states whose politics tend more toward the middle than the far left fringe – are asking themselves, will candidates bypass their states to spend all their time, energy, and money in delegate-rich California?

It's a distinct possibility.


The uncertainty lies with the candidates and whether they will shift their time and resources to California and away from Iowa and New Hampshire, said Norm Sterzenbach, a former executive director of the Iowa Democratic Party who oversaw the 2008 Iowa caucuses and subsequent coordinated campaigns.

"If the candidates say, 'It's fine, New Hampshire is first, but California is just so delegate-rich we just can't afford to spend time in New Hampshire, we have to be in California to win these delegates' – and then they don't go to Iowa or New Hampshire – then that would diminish the importance and likely make [Gardner] feel like he's gotta make some kind of ruling."

Sterzenbach, who's now consulting with the state party on rule changes affecting the 2020 Iowa caucuses, said Iowa officials will likely start thinking of an alternate caucus date to prepare for a Gardner move.

"The challenge is, just like Bill Gardner said, sometime between September and December he'll make a decision. The problem for us is we can't just hold an election on a dime. We can't do this in two weeks like he can, because we have to find caucus sites. They don't have early voting in New Hampshire, which we do," he said.  "If he decided in December to hold his primary on Jan. 15, for example, we couldn't pull off a caucus that quickly.  We would be in kind of a lot of trouble at that point. We just wouldn't logistically be able to do it."

If candidates decide that it makes more sense to give Iowa and New Hampshire short shrift and concentrate on California, it is likely that the candidate who emerges from the California primary will be an odds-on favorite to win the nomination.

This is a problem for Democrats because California voters are no more "representative" of America than the white, middle-class voters who make up the electorate in New Hampshire and Iowa.  Superficially, it may be true.  California's population is diverse, made up of all races, creeds, ethnic groups, and sexual preferences.

But do Hispanic voters in California reflect the views of Hispanic voters in New York or Illinois?  The same question could be asked of any racial or ethnic group in California.  It won't matter so much in the general election, as California will not be turning red anytime soon.  But what kind of Democrat will come out on top in California, one of the most liberal states in the Union?

The unspoken fear of many Democrats is that the "diverse" electorate in California will support a candidate farther to the left than mainstream America could tolerate. 

It's likely that the winner of the California Democratic primary will have a huge leg up to win it all.  Will that candidate really give the Democrats the best chance of beating Donald Trump in 2020?

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