Compressed primary schedule yields more than 70 events in five months
By Ian Christopher McCaleb/CNN
January 7, 2000
Web posted at: 11:24 a.m. EST (1624 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Take one glance at the 2000 presidential primary calendar, and it's mind-boggling to see just how many voting events have been crammed into the period between the January 24 Iowa caucuses, and the last dribble of primaries scheduled for June 6.
Sandwiched in those five months are some 73 separate state and territorial polling events. Each is significant, each will play a role in the shaping of the November elections.
On the heels of the February 1 New Hampshire primary comes the South Carolina Republican primary, scheduled for February 9. The Republicans left standing after New Hampshire will pour their hearts and souls into eight days worth of campaigning in South Carolina, either to build on their momentum coming out of the Granite State, or desperately try to revive their flagging fortunes before it's too late.
The GOP hopeful who gains victory in South Carolina will find himself in possession of a key feather in his cap as the primary season kicks into high gear through February and March -- and in possession of a great deal of valuable, forward-leaning electoral data.
South Carolina is a staunchly Republican state, nestled in a staunchly Republican and politically influential section of the country. Its population of GOP adherents thoroughly covers the party's social and political spectrum.
For example, the Palmetto State boasts one of the nation's highest concentrations of military veterans -- an estimated 400,000, a number that would appear to provide Arizona Senator John McCain, a decorated Vietnam veteran, with a windfall of potential votes.
McCain's strategy for the GOP presidential nomination hinges heavily on gaining support from South Carolina veterans and other conservatives. The theory is that such a finish could derail presumed font-runner Texas Gov. George W. Bush. But Bush also appeals to veterans and other South Carolina conservatives, most especially those committed to downsizing the scope and reach of the federal government.
But also residing in the state is a large population of fiscally and socially minded conservatives, leaving a score of possible inroads for the likes of Steve Forbes, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, Alan Keyes and Gary Bauer. In fact, a strong showing in South Carolina could go a very long way toward breathing new life into any one of their campaigns.
And South Carolina Democrats? They won't get their chance to vote in a party primary until March 9, two days after the massive Yankee Primary.
As things go in South Carolina, so they could also go in the Southwestern state of Arizona, John McCain's home territory. But McCain may not be able to expect the same sort of outpouring of support in Arizona that George W. Bush is certain to enjoy when Texas votes on March 14.
The Republican candidates were together in Iowa for a debate last year.
In fact, when Arizona holds its Republican primary on February 22, McCain may find himself embroiled in one of the toughest fights of his political career. Insinuations that McCain has a volatile temper have cropped up repeatedly in home state newspapers, and Jane Hull, the state's Republican governor, has endorsed his archrival Bush.
So has the state's largest newspaper, the Arizona Republic. In addition, publisher Steve Forbes is making headway in Arizona, and could make a solid run at second place in the state's primary vote.
Within days of the Arizona Republican primary come three significant multiple-state voting events. Jammed between the March 7 Yankee Primary and March 14 Super Tuesday vote is the March 10 "Big Sky" primary, which showcases dual-party primaries in Colorado and Utah, and the Wyoming Republican county caucuses. "Big Sky," for its big name, is just that. Lots of geographical territory will be covered on the night of March 10, but only a very small proportion of the nation's eligible voting population will head to the polls.
On 22 separate days between February 1 and June 6, the states whose votes will not occur on multiple primary dates will head to the polls. Primaries and caucuses will be held in Delaware, Hawaii, Michigan, Virginia, North Dakota, Washington State, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Kansas, North Carolina and Indiana, among a handful of others.
June 6 will see the last of the primaries, in New Jersey, Alabama, Montana, South Dakota and New Mexico.
In addition, the territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will hold primary votes during the five-month primary/caucus season.