It's official: GOP to punish early-voting states

New Hampshire, Michigan, Florida, South Carolina and Wyoming to lose half their votes.

Published October 22, 2007 4:42PM (EDT)

Republicans in New Hampshire, Michigan, Florida, South Carolina and Wyoming are about to be screwed. "The rules clearly state these states will lose half their delegates to the 2008 convention," Republican National Committee chairman Mike Duncan said in a midday conference call Monday with reporters.

Duncan is following rules that were laid out at the 2004 Republican National Convention -- rules that prohibit any state from holding a delegate selection effort outside a window of time between Feb. 5 and July 28, 2008.

This is just more evidence that the entire primary system is messed up. It probably doesn't matter in the short term, but if the Republicans have a contested convention, this will matter a great deal. A candidate who does well in the states voting after Feb. 4 would have far more power on the convention floor than would one who won in big, early-voting states like Michigan and Florida. That's a big "if," however. History tells us that the voters tend to fall into line behind the victors of the early-voting states.

But then, history does not always repeat itself.

By Michael Scherer

Michael Scherer is Salon's Washington correspondent. Read his other articles here.

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