They've got to be celebrating over at Edwards' HQ, because this map is designed to give him a huge boost.
Caucuses, unlike primaries, really are exercises in organization. Witness Kerry's victory in Iowa in 2004. And Nevada is a serious labor state. In fact, labor is essentially the organizing arm of the Nevada Democratic Party, especially UNITE-HERE's Local 226 of the Culinary Union. It's 60,000 strong, and firmly behind John Edward's candidacy.
The serious competition in Nevada will come from Richardson, who pushed hard for a southwestern state that wasn't NM to help his bid. People underestimate Richardson at their peril, and he has huge appeal in a Latino community that is growing like wildfire in Nevada. Can he build an organization to rival Edwards' allies at Local 226? Who knows, but let's hope he makes huge progress. Activating the state's Latino voters, in addition to a motivated an invigorated labor operation could mean trouble for Republicans in Purple Nevada.
Edwards pulled off his surprise 2nd place finish in Iowa in 2004, and he and his organization never left the state. It wouldn't be far fetched to see Edwards 2-0 going into NH. (Though Iowa will be fiercely contested by everyone -- Feingold is local to the region, Hillary has money and organization, Warner will want to make the early splash, Kerry will try to replicate his 2004 success, etc.)
Next is NH, with Kerry, Hillary, and Feingold fighting for supremacy. Edwards makes the required cursory efforts, but instead focuses on South Carolina, which is close to being home-field advantage. And for all Edwards knows, NH may follow suit as in 2004 and rubber-stamp the Iowa decision. The media boost for the winner of Iowa will be HUGE, with the media essentially coronating the winner. It's the problem with the 24-7 media environment.
Who is perceived as the loser in this reconfigured primary/caucus schedule?
Hillary, whose point person at the DNC, Harold Ickes, fought scheduling SC because it would give Edwards too big of a boost. She seems squeezed in this calendar.
There is another possibility -- that everyone except for Edwards and Richardson ignores Nevada to focus on New Hampshire. The political press, which is East Coast-based, won't want to travel to Nevada when New Hampshire, and its wealth of candidates, is just a short flight away.
My take is that HRC would concentrate on a win in NH, though she's got the dough to do everything at once. Where do Clark and Warner, other moderate Southerners, focus their efforts? It might be too late if they pick SC to do so.
Yeah, yeah, it's still too early to speculate, and I prefer to think of the Gregorian calendar as suspended, at least until we get some Democrats elected in about 100 days.