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Yesterday's Primary

Another campaign heating up is the presidential primary race, which is supposed to take place in 2008...but as states across the country vie to have their primaries matter, they're moving them earlier and earlier. Commentator Joe Lavin imagines what might happen if states move things back so far, that some primaries get pushed into the past.LAVIN: In a stunning twist, the state of South Carolina has announced that it will move its presidential primary from Feb. 2, 2008, up to next Tuesday, a decision that has pushed the nomination schedule into massive disarray.

This surprise change has forced New Hampshire which is bound by state law to hold their primary at least one week before anyone else, to reschedule the Granite State primary for yesterday, a peculiar set of events that has seriously suppressed voter turnout.

"This isn't fair," Barack Obama supporter Liz Donelly said. "If I had known the primary was yesterday, I totally wouldn't have spent the day at Hampton Beach."

As of late last night, it was unclear who had won the Democratic contest, although Hillary Clinton was quick to claim victory. John Edwards, however, disputed the scheduling, claiming that yesterday wasn't at all good for him because he was at a thing all afternoon and wasn't able to campaign. Barack Obama also complained that the timing was unfortunate, noting that he wasn't planning to have gathered all the experience necessary to be president until December at the earliest.

On the Republican side, however, John McCain enthusiastically supported the idea. According to sources from within the McCain camp, the candidate has asked South Carolina officials to move their primary back even further, to last January, when his campaign was still ahead in the polls.

If McCain's ploy fails, then Mitt Romney is almost certain to win South Carolina, a key victory that could propel him on to the Republican nomination. With California, New York, and 16 other states all expected to hold their primaries sometime next weekend, Romney could have the nomination wrapped up by Labor Day. In a further sign of Romney's strong position, Fox News has already called the general election in his favor.

Surprisingly, few voters seem upset by the changes. In a recent poll, 75 percent of voters supported the accelerated primary schedule. Interpretations of this poll have been mixed. Some pundits think the public just wants the election to be over with. Others suspect that voters are under the mistaken impression that Bush's presidency will end early. These voters will be disappointed to learn that George W. Bush will still be president until Jan. 20, 2009.Commentator Joe Lavin his imagined accelerated primary report was originally posted last week on Slate.Com.

This program aired on August 29, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.

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