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July 23, 2014

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Sun Editorial:

Why New Hampshire has such a problem with Nevada is beyond us

In political news this past week, Nevada Republicans were in hot water with their colleagues around the country for choosing Jan. 14 for their caucus, in which they’ll pick a presidential candidate. The dates of presidential primaries and caucuses are a major deal to some people, and Nevada’s Republicans have been harshly criticized in some corners.

Why?

Well, here’s what we know: The presidential primary calendar has become like the Christmas shopping season — it keeps getting earlier each year as the states jostle to move up the calendar and thus gain more political relevance. This year, Florida disregarded the Republican National Committee’s rules and leapfrogged four states — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — on the presidential primary calendar.

So, Nevada and the other states went to pick dates before Florida’s Jan. 31 event. With Iowa eyeing the first week of January and South Carolina picking the third week, Nevada chose something in the middle.

But that left New Hampshire, where the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary is sacrosanct, outmaneuvered. Officials in New Hampshire are upset because they want to choose a date in the second week of January. The problem? New Hampshire has a law that mandates its primary be held a week before any “similar” contest. Nevada’s caucus would be four days after New Hampshire’s primary.

New Hampshire’s chief election official has called on Nevada to move its date, and some national pundits have jumped on the bash-Nevada bandwagon. A handful of Republican candidates are even saying they’ll boycott Nevada’s caucus.

Never mind that Florida started this. Or that the national party is supposed to keep the states in line. And forget that at least twice in the past 20 years, Delaware held caucuses within four days of New Hampshire’s primary.

Yet, Nevada is to blame? It doesn’t make any sense.

You would be excused for thinking that reasonable minds could work this out (New Hampshire could go four days before Nevada). However, in party politics, reason often goes out the window. New Hampshire’s primary is full of history and tradition — many campaigns have been made or lost there — but that doesn’t necessarily make it the right choice.

If a political party wanted to pick a state that reflected the American population, it wouldn’t run to New Hampshire. The demographics of the Granite State, which is overwhelmingly white, don’t match up.

Nevada, on the other hand, is part of what the Brookings Institution called the new heartland of America, and its mix of people is one of the reasons why Democrats moved up their caucus here four years ago. Nevada voters are also politically astute. In the last 25 presidential elections, Nevada has picked the winner in all but one of the last 25 presidential elections. (New Hampshire voters have picked correctly in 20 of the 25.)

Regardless, we’re not against New Hampshire’s traditional first-in-the-nation primary, nor are we advocating any major change. We just can’t understand why New Hampshire would cause such a fuss and have a problem with Nevada.

But as we said, it doesn’t make much sense, does it?

What do you think? Send your thoughts in a letter — no more than 250 words. Include the writer’s name, address and phone number. Anonymous letters will not be considered. E-mail: [email protected].

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