Four big states--New Jersey, Florida, Illinois and California--will probably move their 2008 presidential primaries to early February, perhaps only a week after New Hampshire.
Many progressives and good-government advocates disagree with me, but I see a real value in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, even given the small number of minority voters in those states. The retail politics--though diluted in recent campaigns by media coverage that makes TV advertising (and also Internet campaigning) a major force--permits relatively unknown candidates without huge warchests to make a run, viz. Howard Dean in 2004. It also allows for movement during the campaign--remember that John Kerry was down and out nationally in late 2003.
Moving the big-state primaries to the front of the campaign, especially four of them, across the nation, will put a premium on money and national media attention. Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Barack Obama and Rudy Giuliani will probably be able to contest; John Edwards and Mitt Romney are likely to be there, too (although Romney's inconsistent positions may lead him to self-destruct before the end of this year). But can Bill Richardson (whom I think to be the best of the "second-tier" candidates), Joe Biden, Chris Dodd and Tom Vilsack raise enough money to be in the race on this new Super-Duper Tuesday? If Chuck Hagel declares his candidacy on the Republic side--he would be the REAL maverick in that field--he'll probably be doomed by the size of his treasury even more than his position on the war.
The present primary system is not very good, but it's a lot better than what seems to be shaping up for 2008.