Late Returns: Will February Become The Month Without A Horserace?

Florida's decision to move their 2012 primary contest up to January has touched off a race up the calendar from traditional early primary states Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. Because those early states get so much attention, the general tenor of the coverage of the primary season's calendar chaos has been something along the lines of "Oh no! We'll be picking the GOP nominee sometime in December!" But the Atlantic's Molly Ball theorizes that what's scheduled to occur after the Florida primary may have just as big an impact on the race as everything that's set to happen in January:

In a nominating process that typically hinges on a domino effect of momentum that builds to give one candidate a prohibitive advantage, there's now a missing domino.

The effect on the race for the Republican nomination could be major. It means that even if one candidate accomplishes a clean sweep of the early states -- Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina and now Florida -- that will be followed not by a flood of simultaneous primaries that seal the nomination, but rather a momentum-killing dead zone that gives challengers time to rearm.

Assuming those five states have all voted by Jan. 31, they'll be followed by a February that's virtually devoid of primaries.

There are caucuses in Colorado, Maine and Minnesota on Feb. 7 -- and then nothing until Feb. 28, when Arizona and Michigan are scheduled to hold primaries. Super Tuesday, when 12 states are scheduled to vote, isn't until March 6.

This means that February 2012 might end up being "The Month Without A Horserace." (The media will probably fill that empty space with about ten debates, though.)

[The Atlantic]

Ron Paul goes further in his criticism of the Al-Awlaki killing, suggesting that one day, a journalist might end up on the president's "Kill List": "Can you imagine being put on a list because you're a threat? What's going to happen when they come to the media? What if the media becomes a threat? ... This is the way this works. It's incrementalism," said Paul. "Oh, don't worry, we've gotten pretty good at just falling in line," say most American journalists. [ABC News]

Craig Shirley told Ben Smith that Chris Christie's decision to not run is actually bad for Romney. "Romney's only chance for the nomination is for as many candidates to divide the anti-Romney vote -- which is considerable -- for as long as possible," he said. Shirley added, "Because of the cultural differences between Christie and Romney, Christie would have been competing for the anti-Romney vote." But an examination of the record shows that when Chris Christie caught static for appointing Solail Mohammed to a judgeship, he said that he was "tired of dealing with the crazies." So I'm going to say Shirley is wrong, and that Christie would have competed in the Romney-Huntsman space. But we'll never know, will we? [Politico]

The Washington Post’s Stephanie McCrummen kited a check one time, and she's been cited for speeding and various moving violations, so we can take her report that Rick Perry's family owned a ranch that was known locally by a racially insensitive name and put it right in the trash, according to Perry-supporting bloggers. [RedState]

Oh, yeah! I guess everyone totally forgot that Rick Perry could "raise" lots of "money" to continue his "campaign" for "a long time" and maybe it's "premature" to suggest that he's "toast." [First Read]

Who would you suspect might run some sort of third party spite campaign against the GOP's nominee? Just think about it. [The Hill]

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