George Will makes some good points regarding the newly-frontloaded presidential primary schedule. The Feb. 5 super tuesday isn't necessarily going to make voters in the big states any more relevant, but it is likely to give voters less chance to see how the candidates perform over time.
Every campaign is shaped by two scarcities - the candidate's time, and money. No candidate will have enough of either to campaign intensely, in person or even on television, in perhaps 24 states across the continent in the 22 days between Iowa (Jan. 14) and Feb. 5. As political analyst Charlie Cook says, this will raise the stakes - the free media attention, and the momentum it imparts - that will accrue to the winner or winners of the first four states (South Carolina Democrats and Republicans vote on Jan. 29 and Feb. 2, respectively). Indeed, if one person wins three or all four of those, the Feb. 5 primaries might be mere ratifying echoes rather than deciding events.With regard to the second point: complaints about the long primary season notwithstanding, the new calendar is actually likely to compress the primary campaign into a very brief window of time late next winter. The nominees-apparent will then be left to keep themselves busy until the party conventions. It's kind of a dreadful prospect, when you think about it.