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« As Edwards Fades, Lawyers Get Involved | Blog Home Page | WH Releases SOTU Excerpts »

Sweet Relevance

For two years, dozens of states have complained about so called "front-loading" of the primaries, worrying that the rush to the beginning of the calendar would only increase the influence of Iowa and New Hampshire and their lead-off contests. Now, though, with two Democrats each having won two contests and three Republicans having won battles in six states, local newspapers are discovering that their states actually matter.

With twenty-two states fighting for attention on February 5, political writers everywhere are the biggest winners in the increasingly confused nomination battles. Candidates are only too willing to oblige: Hillary Clinton landed in Tennessee on Saturday and heads to Massachusetts and Connecticut today, while her husband stopped in Missouri. Barack Obama hits Kansas later this week after stopping in Georgia and Alabama yesterday.

Those sound more like general election schedules than primary schedules. Republicans are centered on Florida until tomorrow, but afterwards, expect similarly distant and spread-out itineraries.

Check out the response some newspapers have today:

"For candidates of both parties, Tennessee has become a strategic piece of ground in the 22-state battle for delegates," the Knoxville News Sentinel writes. "Colorado on campaigns' radar," heads the Rocky Mountain News.

The Star-Ledger of Newark, New Jersey: " It was 1984, the last time New Jersey's votes in a presidential primary mattered. This year, for the first time in 24 years, New Jersey will matter once again. After decades of feeling neglected, the Garden State moved up its presidential primary to Feb. 5." The Philadelphia Inquirer agrees: "With the New Jersey primary scheduled for Feb. 5, moved up from the traditional first Tuesday in June, the state's electorate is positioned to weigh in while the races are still in flux."

Even in Obama's home state, the race matters: "The presidential race has shifted from the early-state sprint for momentum of recent campaign cycles to a state-by-state slog for delegates. And Illinois Democrats award their delegates on a proportional basis, meaning if Clinton does well in some parts of her native state, she could snatch some delegates away from Obama. In the race to 2,025, the magic number to win the party's presidential nomination, every delegate counts," writes top Quad-City Times politico Ed Tibbetts.

Florida's result "puts the spotlight on Georgia and 23 other states [sic] having primaries Feb. 5 and how those voters could ultimately determine which candidates will be each party's nominee for president," according to the Savannah Morning News. Even Florida is celebrating: "For the first time in 32 years, Florida's presidential primary really matters this week -- despite the best political efforts of both parties," said the Tallahassee Democrat.

Reporters won't spend Sunday watching the Super Bowl. More states are realizing that the real Super Bowl takes place two days later, and newspapers are realizing their relevance on a daily basis.