January 06. 2014 6:00PM

Delegate dump: Protecting the New Hampshire Presidential primary calendar

A proposal working its way through the Republican National Committee holds some promise for protecting New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary. It supposedly gives RNC primary calendar rules real teeth. Still, we wonder how sharp those teeth are.

The plan, which remains in the Rules Committee, would allow Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada to hold their contests in February. Any large state that jumps the calendar would lose all but nine of its delegates to the Republican National Convention. A state with 30 or fewer delegates would lose all but six.

But as we saw in 2012, big states don’t care much about losing delegates if they think they can pick the nominee by jumping line. They know that the nominee will see to it that their delegates are recognized anyway.

If delegate reduction is the only weapon the RNC has in this fight, then the rules should deny any delegates to a state that jumps ahead. No credentials, no admittance to the building, nothing. That would effectively negate the results of any primary held out of schedule. Any punishment short of that is unlikely to be a strong enough deterrent.