Candidates must 'buy into game'

DURHAM -- The only Democratic candidate for president who benefits from this summer's decision by the Democratic National Committee to move Nevada ahead of New Hampshire in the caucus/primary schedule is New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, said UNH Survey Center Director Andrew Smith.

"Clinton is the only candidate who can raise money in every state right now," Smith said.

Raising money in the compressed caucus/primary season that is developing as a result of the DNC decision will be very difficult for the other Democratic candidates, he said. Smith said he thinks it will take at least $25 million to wage a viable race for the presidency.

"The only viable candidates are the candidates with money already," the survey center director said. "It's a matter of buying your way into the game."

Smith said he believes the race for the Democratic nominee will essentially have been chosen after the New Hampshire primary, whenever that happens.

"With the schedule being how it is, it will all be over after New Hampshire," he said. "If a candidate doesn't win New Hampshire, it's over for him or her."

That happened, to some extent, in 2004, and resulted in the Democrats running "a flawed candidate" -- Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, Smith said.

In an effort to prevent this and retain New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary status without disrupting Iowa's position as the first caucus state, New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch will meet with new Iowa Gov. Chet Culver in Washington this weekend.

It is an attempt to smooth over a rift that has developed between the two first-in-the-nation presidential states and recreate the coalition that has kept both states first in the past, Smith said.

Iowa newspapers have been pushing Culver to prepare for the possibility that, because the DNC placed Nevada before New Hampshire in the proposed caucus/primary schedule next year, New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner may feel the need to leap-frog his state's primary over the Iowa caucuses.

"There has been a continuation of animosity between the two states since this summer, when the DNC set its 2008 calendar and Iowa failed to back New Hampshire in its opposition to the insertion of Nevada between Iowa and the Granite State's primary," Smith said. "Iowa threw New Hampshire under the bus, probably because then-Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack was planning a run for the presidency."

With a new governor in place in Iowa -- and with Vilsack dropping out of the race on Friday -- there is an opportunity to "loosen the tensions" between the states, the survey center director said.

"It's my guess Lynch and Culver will attempt to rebuild their relationship," Smith said. "It will take the two states working together to circumvent the DNC schedule and set the New Hampshire primary a week before Nevada."

Smith said he believes there will be a change in the caucus/primary schedule, with New Hampshire moving its primary a week ahead of the Jan. 22 date set by the DNC.