The Boycott of Nevada, 2011

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 14 2011 9:59 AM

The Boycott of Nevada, 2011

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HANOVER, NH - OCTOBER 11: Former Utah governor and Republican presidential canididate Jon Huntsman looks on with his wife Mary Kaye during a town hall style meeting at the Kendal Retirement Community on October 11, 2011 in Hanover, New Hampshire. Jon Hunstman made a last minute campaign stop before a presidential debate at Dartmouth College. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

MaryAnn Martinez* confirms that four presidential candidates are threatening to skip the Nevada caucuses if they keep playing chicken with New Hampshire. Unfortunately, the candidates are Gingrich, Bachmann, Santorum, and Huntsman. In the last caucus poll (taken before the Perry collapse and Cain surge, and before Palin exited the race for real), the combined support of these candidates added up to 13 points -- around half as much support as Perry, slightly more than half as much support as Romney.

That's no way to do a boycott! In 2008, Democrats shut down the Florida and Michigan primaries when Obama, Edwards, and Clinton pulled out of them. (In Michigan, only Clinton and Kucinich even left their names on the ballot.) We're all assuming that New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner will not move his primary to December, but Republicans aren't giving him the support he needs -- maybe it's just fatigue at how this crap happens every four years, revealing the essential maturity of the people who select the presidential.

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Moreover: What's the downside of a Bachmann-Santorum-Gingrich-Huntsman boycott? As I wrote this, Huntsman made an announcement:

Next Tuesday, Governor Huntsman will boycott the Nevada presidential debate, and instead hold a 'First-in-the-Nation' Town Hall Meeting in New Hampshire, to discuss his bold plans to create jobs and reform America's foreign policy for the 21st Century.

If next Tuesday's debate lacks Huntsman, Gingrich, Santorum and Bachmann, the downside will be... what, exactly? More questions for the frontrunners and Ron Paul? Less stunt preening and joking from candidates who haven't shown traction? I'm liking this boycott so far.

*This is a great local Las Vegas news name.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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