How early voting could turn the Democratic 2020 race on its head

The fact that California delegates could be up for grabs even before Iowa’s caucuses begin has been a frequent topic of discussion among some Kamala Harris supporters, and Texas’s early potential delegate haul has not been lost on those trying to push Beto O’Rourke into the race. Ahead of a nationwide contest that could come down to a delegate-counting exercise simply because of the sheer number of potential candidates, the thinking goes, any marginal advantage counts.

“It won’t stop candidates from doing all the early state stuff, but it changes the calculus overall,” says one Democratic fundraiser aligned with Harris, who’s spoken with national strategists how the calendar shift will play out. “It changes where you put your resources.”

The early front-runners will still almost certainly spend significant time Iowa and New Hampshire, whose contests are usually largely about setting a media narrative rather than piling up huge delegate totals for the candidates.

But if the possible candidates see a months-long scrap for delegates ahead of them, the new calendar could rejigger how they think about spending their time and (often limited) money, whether it means paying for ads in states that wouldn’t usually see such early spending, or veering from the expected path by holding rallies in Raleigh while the rest of the pack is in Las Vegas, for example.