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Upper Midwestern States Contemplate Presidential Primary Dates

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As Election 2008 heats up, states across the nation are strategically shuffling their primary and caucus schedules in attempt to become more relevant players in the presidential campaign. Upper Midwestern states are also contemplating changes to their schedules in view of the potential benefits moving up primary voting day would provide—such as increased revenue to the state and gaining the ear of potential nominees.

Iowa, of course, is in no danger of losing its status as the first contest in the nation, although the Hawkeye state did move its caucus date up to the second Monday of January in 2008 (the 14th), one week earlier than in 2004 when it was held on the third Monday of the month (the 19th).

Legislators in South Dakota attempted to move its presidential primary up from June 3rd to February 5th, but the measure was defeated in the state House 35-35 last month. Advocates felt moving the primary date up would increase revenue to the state as well as put South Dakota issues on the agenda of presidential candidates, but opponents remained doubtful those benefits would outweigh the cost of holding an extra statewide election (primary voting is currently held for all district and statewide offices in June).

Wisconsin is slated to hold its primary on the third Tuesday in February (the 19th), just as it did in 2004. The Badger State is the only state scheduled to hold a primary on this day, as it was in 2004 when the state made some headlines as John Edwards came out of nowhere (34 percent) to nearly nip favorite John Kerry (40 percent) at the finish line. While more than one-third of the country will have already held their primaries by the time Wisconsinites vote (including several key states like Florida and California), if the Republican and/or Democratic nominees are still in doubt at that stage, Wisconsin will likely be a key stop on the campaign trail as candidates seek to gain momentum for March 4th when nine states vote (including New York, Texas, and Ohio).

Minnesota held its 2004 primary on the first Tuesday in March, and there have been discussions to move its primary next year to February 19th (like Wisconsin) or as early as February 5th—the Super Tuesday of Election 2008.

Previous post: Turnover in 2008 MN House Party Control Follow-up
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