'Yankee' primary plays major 2000 role
January 7, 2000
Web posted at: 11:26 a.m. EST (1626 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Iowa and New Hampshire garner the lion's share of attention at the early end of the presidential election season. And while both states play pivotal roles in determining the long-term fortunes of each of the major parties' presidential hopefuls, the residents of the rest of the nation -- those who are inclined to vote, that is -- will be eager to queue up for their chance to weigh in.
And many will have a chance to weigh in quickly. Come March 7, the date of the "Yankee" primary, the residents of 16 states and one U.S. territory will hit their local polling places. And two of those states -- California and New York -- are among the biggest electoral prizes of the American democratic process.
Republican and Democratic primaries will be held in California and New York, as well as in Ohio, Georgia, Massachusetts, Missouri, Maryland, Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont.
A dual-party caucus is also scheduled for Washington state, as well as a Republican caucus in Minnesota.
The Democrats will be quite busy on the evening of March 7, holding caucuses in Idaho, Hawaii, North Dakota and American Samoa.
New York's primary will certainly be worth watching. With the shaping of the upcoming U.S. Senate battle between first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and New York Republican Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, New Yorkers of all stripes can be expected to display much more of a political consciousness in this election year than in years past.
And the struggle between the traditionally liberal urban boroughs of New York City and the staunchly conservative areas upstate -- highlighted of course by the Senate race -- may have palpable effects on the presidential race.
But the California primary will provide a great deal of unprecedented electoral entertainment on the evening of March 7.
The 2000 election marks the first year that Californians will vote on the same day as residents of the once politically dominant Northeastern bloc of states.
California is a juicy primary prize, considering the vast amount of money the state generates for both Republican and Democratic campaigns, and the scores of delegates the Golden State will dispatch to the Republican and Democratic national conventions later in the year.
But California's primary hasn't just moved up a few days in the schedule this year -- its whole format has changed so significantly that many political pundits and observers are eagerly waiting to see how well the event is pulled off.
In 1996, California's voters approved a ballot initiative known as "Proposition 198," which established an open primary process. Now, registered California voters may cast a vote for any candidate in any party, regardless of the voter's party affiliation.
Under this so-called blanket primary process, the many Californians who have declined to state a party affiliation when registering to vote will be able to cast primary ballots for the first time.
Each California primary ballot will list every candidate from every party for all the races, but the ballots will be coded.
According to the California Secretary of State's office, the official results of the primary will be the open primary results as voted on by the people of the state. But for convention delegate selection purposes, the Secretary of State will report results by party. The national parties will then use only the results from ballots cast by members of their party to award convention delegates to candidates.