NBC news analysts after their Sunday debate argued that wins for Romney in New Hampshire and South Carolina would end the contest, despite a dissatisfied Republican electorate as reflected in the remarkable swings we have seen in polls and illustrated by the seemingly endless parade of anti-Romneys over the last few months. "So it has come to this," POLITICO's Roger Simon opined in an article titled Hello, Goodbye, "Seven days since [voting for the GOP nomination] began, [and] it is essentially over."
Already, Michele Bachmann has dropped out after her poor finish in the January 3 caucus, while Rick Perry's campaign--though it marches on, for now--is apparently on life support. Meanwhile, Jon Huntsman, who has staked everything on New Hampshire, will likely withdraw absent a top two result. Tim Pawlenty, once considered a leading alternative to Romney, exited the stage in August after a third-place result in the Iowa straw poll.
Whatever one may think of these aforementioned candidacies, in a democratic system, so few individuals should not have the authority to foreclose choices before an entire nation. After all, candidates handed a certificate of defeat by the voters of Iowa and New Hampshire were not running for each state's respective governorship; they were striving to become president of the United States. When dealing with national offices, should not all Americans have the right to weigh in?
A far better way to structure nominations would be the American Plan, a significant reform to our nation's primary process that preserves the tradition of having a staggered primary calendar--thereby maintaining the benefits of not having every state contest on a super "primary day," which unfairly advantages candidates with money and name recognition--but employs a graduated system, with clear breaks that increase the likelihood that other voters will cast meaningful votes. Iowa and New Hampshire have had decades in the spotlight; it is time for other states to have their moment too.