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The Invisible Primary
The invisible primary: the period between candidates declaring an intention to run
for the presidency and the first contests of the primary season. The invisible primary
is said to be critically important for a candidate to gain name recognition and
money, and to put together the necessary organisation. There is often a high
correlation between who wins the invisible primary and who actually wins the
presidential nomination, though not in 2007-8.
Played out mainly in the media. A candidate will hope to be `mentioned' as a
possible serious candidate in such newspapers as the Washington Post and the
New York Times. Or there might be a promising article in one of the weeklies,
such as Time, Newsweek, or US News and World Report. There might be offers
of an in-depth interview on such serious political TV programmes as Face the
Nation (CBS), The News Hour with Jim Lehrer (PBS), or one of CNN's political talk
shows such as Late Edition, Crossfire or Inside Politics.
Formal announcements are made early on, for example the first to delcare their
candidacy for the 2008 presidential race was Democrat Congressman Dennis
Kucinich of Ohio, making his announcement 368 days before the Iowa caucuses .
By the end of January 2007, there were already nine declared candidates, five
Dem, four Rep including Hilary Clinton (Jan 2007). Obama entered on the 10th of
Feb, McCain in April.…read more
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New Hampshire Primary
·gain name recognition to the candidate who wins
because of media attention, which in turn may bring in Despite the increasing importance of the `invisible'
more finance to the campaign war chest primary, the Iowa caucus is the first caucus and
·NHP is the first vote of a presidential primary state :The
therefore first voting in the presidential race. The
eyes of the world are on NHP as the first real test of
public opinion on the candidates eyes of the world are on Iowa as the first real test
· the significance of NHP may be in decline as the of public opinion on the candidates and so, even
winners here have NOT gone on to win the nomination in though it is a small unrepresentative state, it can:
recent times (Bill Clinton, G W Bush and Obama all give `momentum' perhaps to an `outsider'
suffered defeats in NH), SO its significance may be candidate (as it did to Obama in 2008)
questioned compared to the past.
gain name recognition to the candidate who wins
Since 1980, the winners of the Iowa Caucus (non-
because of media attention, which in turn may
incumbent), have only went on to secure the
bring in more finance to the campaign war chest
Republican ticket twice, which ironically isn't
provide an upset for the winner of the `invisible'
that different from New Hampshire, which edges
primary (as for Hillary Clinton in 2008).
Iowa by an extra nomination. Interestingly
A a result of attempts by several states to supplant
though, no non-incumbent candidates have won
Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucus status, the Iowa
both primaries in the same year for the last
GOP has brought the caucus date forward by a
month, making it the earliest ever in history.
However, the significance of both caucus and primary may also be related to the fact that other states
have `front-loaded' their primaries as a result of the media attention and momentum gained by
candidates in these two small and very unrepresentative states in the nomination process.
Also Iowa and New Hampshire have their caucus and primary (respectively) first in the calendar, and it
is said they are bellwether states so raises the question of democracy as two states who are now
where near a microcosm of the USA on the whole are the trendsetter for the rest.…read more
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Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has once again regained his lead at
the top of the leaderboard but the picture remains far from clear. The position at the
top of the charts has been extremely volatile, with several of the candidates
(Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul) leading
the polls for short periods at various stages of the election season. Clearly, the
grassroots remains undecided. Rick Santorum is the latest candidate to experience a
surge in numbers, with various polls over the past two weeks showing the former
Pennsylvania Senator hitting double digits for the first time in his campaign. In fact,
poll data from Rasmussen, NBC and CNN this week pegged Santorum at third, close
behind second-placed Ron Paul, who continues to hemorrhage numbers in the face
of coordinated attacks on his foreign policies.
One thing is for certain though Jon Huntsman Jr. is definitely out of contention.
The former Utah Governor and Ambassador to China has never made it a secret that
his attention is firmly focused on the New Hampshire primary scheduled seven days
after Iowa, but the manner in which he effectively landed a fatal body blow to his
own Iowa campaign left many pundits scratching their heads.
Responding to a question about the electability of Mitt Romney on CBS' The Early
Show on Thursday, the normally tactful Huntsman explained, incredibly, that "in
Iowa there's activity playing out. They pick corn in Iowa, they actually pick
presidents here in New Hampshire."…read more
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Support for candidates is predominantly demonstrated through opinion polls. Some
may be state based or regionally. Occasionally a nation-wide poll may be run.
Opinion polls may also pit candidates against one another to see how candidates of
one party might fare against fancied contenders from the other party. During 2007,
polling organisations published frequent head-to-head match-ups between the
leading Democrat and Republican candidates: Clinton v Giuliani, Clinton v Romney,
McCain v Clinton, McCain v Obama, etc. It was these polls which contributed towards
Hillary Clinton's claim that she was the most electable candidate among the
Democrats as the polls consistently showed her beating McCain, Romney and Giuliani
the 3 republican front-runners, in the presidential election.
Televised debates take place. 2011: Rick Perry forgot one of his "3 main policy
changes", Herman Cain.
Some events take place. Iowa: Republican Iowa Straw Poll. Traditional event. A fund-
raising dinner at which any Republican candidate can make a speech. Significance =
doubtful as the winner of the non-binding poll rarely turns out to be the eventual
Republican presidential nominee. The poll is not held in those election cycles where
an incumbent Rep president is seeking renomination and re-election.
Democrats have the traditional annual Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner which provides
a similar opportunity for speech making by their presidential candidates. Iowa holds
its dinner in November so as to just proceed its caucuses in January. Particularly
impressive speech in Nov 2007 helped propel the Obama campaign to victory.…read more
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Money raising has to occur in earnest to accumulate a large enough `war chest' during
the invisible primary. 1999 Elizabeth Dole ended her presidential bid as she claimed
she could not raise enough money to be regarded as a viable canidate. Al Gore's
successful raising of huge ammounts of money during 1999 deterred would-be
challengers for the 2000 Democratic nomination, e.g. Dick Gephardt, Bob Kerrey. 2003:
Howard Dean's strong fund raising helped propel him to the front-runner position in
the Democrats' invisible primary. Neither of the two top fund-raisers during the 2007-8
invisible primary (Clinton and Giuliani) went onto win the presidential nomination of
their party. Guiliani had raised almost twice as much as McCain during this period but
McCain would go onto be the party's nominee.
Polls: Whichever candidate was leading in the polls just before the primaries and
caucuses began was usually confirmed as the nominee. Not the case in the Democrat
race in 2004 early front runner, Howard Dean of Vermont, crashed in the primaries.
Not the case for either party in 2008. Undecided for this cycle. In the USA Today/Gallup
poll conducted early Dec 2007 right at the end of the invisible primary, Clinton held a
15% point lead over Barack Obama. The same poll reported a 10% point lead for Rudy
Giuliani over John McCain in the Republican race. Yet it was Obama and McCain who
went on to win their respective party nominations.…read more