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Toward A More Perfect Primary Rulebook Toward A More Perfect Primary Rulebook

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Toward A More Perfect Primary Rulebook

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Crafting a presidential nominating process is a delicate task, a balancing act between a rushed primary in which the candidate with the most money delivers an early knockout and a long, drawn-out fight that saps resources and sows discontent. At the close of a contest that skewed toward the bloodier side, members of the Republican National Committee are trying again to find the right balance.

The party's goals are two-fold: They want their nominating process to test their candidate without inflicting fatal wounds, and they want to allow enough time for the best possible candidate to rise to the top. After a years-long process to reform the system that concluded last summer, Republicans thought they had their solution -- four states would hold early contests, and any state that violated the agreed-upon calendar would face stiff penalties.

But, as it turns out, the incentive to hold contests early in the process, and thereby have a bigger influence in the process, outweighed the threat of losing half of a delegation. By the time the process concluded, five states violated party rules by moving their contests ahead of their allotted space on the calendar.

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