There’s an idea going around that the early primary calendar was a key factor in Obama’s victory over Clinton. I’m not sure I buy it.
Yes, the sequence of the early primaries was not exactly what Clinton wanted it to be. But what this reading forgets is that Obama wasn’t supposed to be the one who benefited from the calendar. It was supposed to be Edwards.
The Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina order that ended up being put in place was hugely favorable to Edwards. Edwards lived in Iowa for 4 years after 2004. He was supposed to be the candidate of organized labor, which was supposed to control the Nevada caucuses. And South Carolina was the only state he won in his 2004 run.
There was nothing uniquely favorable about the primary schedule for Obama. Two completely white states, followed by a Southwestern state where he had no natural base of support followed by one favorable primary isn’t a recipe for success. The fact that he won in spite of the schedule is what’s impressive to me.