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Voters aren’t the ties that bind primary elections

By Laurie Bennett

January 10, 2012 at 7:25am

We can’t help but notice, as we wait for the results in New Hampshire, how unlike a network the presidential primaries are.

Even with national campaign staffs, mass media, blogs, tweets and Facebook, Iowa is still distinct from New Hampshire, which is distinct from South Carolina.

Rick Santorum’s surge in Iowa may have impressed New Hampshire voters not at all.

When we try to visualize the primary system, we don’t see a network map, we see a stack of poker chips. With each hand, the candidate’s pile increases or dwindles until he’s out or he’s the winner.

That’s not to say there isn’t a network here.

The connections between state contests exist - if not through the voters, through the candidates and their financiers.

Each vote tally has a direct impact on the amount of money flowing to the campaigns in subsequent state contests.

The odd thing about these interrelationships is that the stronger the ties, the less visible they become.

Money channels from super PACs, corporations and nonprofit groups that don’t have to release their donors are becoming less and less transparent.

That’s the network we’ll be focusing on over the next nine months.

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