I was in Las Vegas Friday night as the guest of the conservative Citizen Outreach organization. We got to talking about the importance which may be visited upon the Nevada caucuses this year which, on the GOP side of the ledger has never been that big a deal.
A couple of weeks ago Florida decided to move its GOP primary up by about a month to January 31. That set all the other early states into a frenzy trying to figure out when they should hold their caucuses (Iowa and Nevada) or primaries (New Hampshire and South Carolina).
As of this writing the guessing is, Iowa will move its caucuses up to January 3; New Hampshire to January 7; Nevada to the 14th; and, South Carolina to January 21.
That means, the week between Christmas and New Year will be spent in places like Red Oak and Clear Lake, Iowa; and Claremont and Gottstown, New Hampshire.
As Mullfave Ed Rollins pointed out last week, "you can't live off the land in Florida like you can in the other early states."
Nevada's population is centered around Clark County (Las Vegas and its environs) and Washoe County (Reno) so you can organize there pretty easily. South Carolina's population is more than four million and spread out throughout the state, but SC is geographically the 10th smallest state so driving from point A to point M (or wherever) is not much of a challenge.
Florida is a different kettle of alligators.
Rollins said to the DailyBeast.com:
"You need a minimum of $1 million to $2 million a week in TV and at least three weeks of [the campaign] focusing on Florida."
That tells me that the only candidates who, today, have a shot to win Florida are Perry, Paul, and Romney - which sounds like a '60 folk group as much as three candidates for the GOP Presidential nomination.
Herman Cain might generate enough enthusiasm to raise the money to continue all the way through January, but it would be a long shot. Now that the field is set (no Christie, no Palin) we should see GOP primary voters settling on the candidates they believe can get to the finish line.
Even if a candidate like Rick Santorum should be the surprise winner in Iowa on January 3, it is not likely he could raise enough money quickly enough to meet the Rollins rule of upwards of $6 million starting one week after the Iowa caucuses.
Even if Santorum wrote off New Hampshire and Nevada, he still has to raise enough money to organize and put ads on radio and TV in South Carolina just 18 days after Iowa.
We'll know more next week when the candidates have to file their quarterly fundraising (and - more importantly - expenditure) reports.
We will not just want to know how much money each candidate has raised, but how much they have spent and how much (if any) money they have in the bank. When you see COH in stories about the candidates that stands for "Cash on Hand."
When we get our hands on the actual reports, it will be interesting to see where the money came from: How much of Huntsman's money came from his own bank account; how much of Perry's money came from Texas, and so on.
We will also want to see when it came in. Has Perry's money slowed since his 2nd and 3rd debate appearances? Has Romney's fundraising improved since New Jersey Governor Chris Christie declined to enter the race (again)? How much did Michele Bachmann raise in the immediate afterglow of the Iowa Straw Poll and how much has she raised since?
Even with the new calendar we have 86 days before the Iowa Caucuses. 86 days ago was July 15 and we were still two weeks shy of settling the debt ceiling issue. I mention that to remind you how much can happen in 86 days.
Maybe Perry, Paul & Romney can write a song about that.