June 7: North Carolina, Tennessee (113 delegates). Notice that the number of delegates at stake each week is irregularly but gradually increasing.
June 14: Ohio, Pennsylvania (138 delegates).
June 21: Georgia (76 delegates).
June 28: New York (95 delegates).
July 5: Texas (155 delegates).
July 12: California (172 delegates).
This would still leave about six weeks until the national party conventions, if they stick with their traditional late August or early September scheduling.
At some point, we would have to fit in primaries for the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. They have few delegates at stake and distance makes them difficult for candidates to reach, but perhaps they should be squeezed in early to give candidates a chance for a late winter campaign stop on a warm beach, or added to the day for Alaska and Hawaii.
Some might see this as a formula for a long, drawn-out, hard-fought primary; of course, Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton campaigned in one of the longest and most contentious primaries in U.S. history in 2008 and that turned out pretty well for Obama. Under this system, itís possible to have multiple winners most weeks. Or perhaps an exceptional candidate would sweep the early contests and make the rest of the calendar moot. Much of this is in the hands of the primary voters, which is how it should be.
You canít guarantee a competitive primary race that will go on for many weeks, allowing millions of primary voters in many states to weigh in. But you can arrange the schedule to avoid any quick slam-dunks that allow the frontrunner to lock up the nomination quickly. Our parties, and the country, are ill-served by a system that often amounts to a three-state coronation.
Jim Geraghty, a contributing editor at National Review, writes the Campaign Spot blog on NRO and appears regularly on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News.