February 5, 2008 was already destined to be an extremely important date, and the important baggage is only piling on. A growing number of states, including just about a third, have designated that date as the day for their presidential primary or are seriously thinking about it, with Illinois being the latest into the 2/5/08 pool.
The reason so many states are pursuing this course is to make sure they are not rendered irrelevant to the process by a primary season with a clear winner in place before a given state's citizens have had a chance to weigh in. According to CQPolitics.com, the Illinois decision is also thought to be, at least in part, a move to help favorite son Barack Obama (D-IL), just as the recent move to the 2/5/08 date by New York aids Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Rudy Giuliani (R-NY).
On the Democratic side, according to the latest Wikipedia snapshot, five state have events on four different days prior to Super Duper Tuesday: The Iowa caucus is 1/14/08; the Nevada caucus follows on 1/19/08; the first primary in New Hampshire is 1/22/08; and then South Carolina and Florida will hold primaries 1/29/07. The 2/5/08 lineup currently includes Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah. The Republican lineup has only minor differences. Add Wyoming 1/22/07; delay South Carolina until 2/2/08; on Super Duper Tuesday, delete Colorado & Idaho, and add Michigan, New Mexico, North Dakota & West Virginia.
RBR observation: If this widespread battleground fails to identify a standard bearer for either or both parties, it's going to be tough to generate any momentum with the shrinking number of states left to go. It's also going to cause a highly concentrated media blitz in each and every one of them up until a consensus candidate HAS finally been identified. Should be a wild ride.