In a decision as unfortunate as it was inevitable, New York has moved its 1996 presidential primary from the first Tuesday in April to the first Tuesday in March. The reason: to avoid being made irrelevant by the California primary, which is moving from June to the fourth Tuesday in March. Both states are wrong. Their decisions will distort the presidential nominating process.
California and New York are not alone, however. Presidential primaries have been getting earlier and earlier in recent years. And to retain their first place status, the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary have advanced their dates. The result is such an early concentration of primaries in 1996 that more than 70 percent of the delegates to both national conventions will have been chosen by the end of March.
After Iowa and New Hampshire in February will come New York, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland and possibly New Jersey on the first Tuesday in March. The next week Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee as well as Massachusetts and Rhode Island will hold primaries. The following week Ohio, Illinois, Michigan and probably Pennsylvania and Wisconsin will vote. On March's final Tuesday, California will almost certainly settle the nomination.
Unfortunately, Missouri won't even …