The 2016 presidential race is about to leave the starting line and hit the road in high gear.
If it seems as though you already have PCF — Presidential Campaign Fatigue — that is because the official start of the presidential race season at the Iowa Caucuses on Monday was preceded by at least seven months of exposure to flirtatious political froth. Now, it is time to count votes.
I have to say, it has been fun. I feel guilty for never having paid admission to the show. You could not script more tension and drama than reality has provided when you consider we started with two presumptive heirs of the Bush and Clinton clans at the pole positions, poised to run away with their races.
At no time in recent history has the conventional wisdom agenda been so hijacked by seemingly unending surprises and fits of anti-establishment politics. For the first time in a long time, candidates might have to pay attention to Idahoans when the GOP presidential primary is held March 8 and the Idaho Democratic caucus rolls around March 22.
The caucus/primary schedule leading up to that includes:
Monday Iowa caucuses
Feb. 9 New Hampshire primary
Feb. 20 Nevada Democratic caucuses; South Carolina GOP primary
Feb. 23 Nevada GOP caucuses
Feb. 27 South Carolina Democratic caucus
March 1 (Super Tuesday) Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming
March 5 Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine and Nebraska
March 8 Hawaii, Idaho Republicans, Michigan and Mississippi
March 15 Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio
March 22 Arizona, and Idaho Democratic caucuses
Let’s stop there for now and imagine what it is going to look like for Idaho, where 32 delegates will be at stake on the GOP side. We’ll be past Super Tuesday, and I have to think a number of the GOP candidates will have peeled off. Unless something profound happens — for instance, if Michael Bloomberg and his billions enter the race — Hillary Clinton could be starting her glide to the Democratic nomination. Or not. Nothing much has gone the conventional route in this presidential race.
In Idaho, a GOP candidate can win all 32 delegates by getting 51 percent of the vote or by being the only candidate in the field to garner at least 20 percent of the vote. At this still-early stage of the race, that small number of delegates could spur big-time candidate visits.
Though nobody is confirming anything yet, Idaho GOP officials say there is interest in an Idaho visit coming from the Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Ben Carson and Marco Rubio campaigns. At this time, Idaho Democrats aren’t expecting a visit from either Clinton or Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Of course, any potential GOP visits depend upon what happens on Super Tuesday, when 634 delegates are at stake (it takes roughly 1,237 to lock up the GOP nomination). With so many GOP candidates in the field, this is going to be interesting and perhaps put extra value on Idaho’s delegates.
For that same reason, I don’t think too many GOP candidates are going to make Idaho travel plans until the Super Tuesday results are known. There are tastier dates on the calendar, such as the following week, March 15, when huge prizes in Florida, Illinois and Ohio are at play.
Stay tuned. After seven months, this one really is just getting started.