Before the DNC move, we believe that Sen. Bayh had led all candidates in time on the ground in Iowa (and probably in consumption of products on a stick at the Iowa State Fair), and he had made more than his share of recent visits to New Hampshire (well ahead of the snow).
The conventional wisdom is that the move will help candidates with non-traditional constituencies, give more regions a voice in the process, and slow down the race by increasing options for those who might not expect to fare well in the original first two contests. The change also should help former U.S. Sen. John Edwards (D-NC), who is said to enjoy a strong organization in South Carolina, which will follow the Granite State.
If indeed Iowa turns out to be a winner for Bayh, the calendar change could actually benefit Bayh as a result of the bump he will have going into those two states. Quoting the Des Moines Register's David Yepsen, Feigenbaum reports:
The Des Moines Register’s sage David Yepsen writes that the changes might actually have the reverse effect: “Packing so many events so closely after the Iowa events just makes Iowa more important. There is not enough time between these caucuses and primaries for a candidate to recover from a setback here — or to slow the winner’s momentum.”
The National Journal's Chuck Todd has been ranking all of the prospective presidential candidates from both parties. Todd ranks Bayh's candidacy fourth in the top tier of candidates behind Sen. Hillary Clinton, former Sen. John Edwards and former Gov. Mark Warner, in that order. He puts Sen. Barack Obama in 5th behind Bayh, even though it is highly unlikely that Obama will enter the race. Obama bumped Kerry from the top tier Democratic candidates.
Todd is charitable to Bayh given how poorly he's been running in all early polling against other candidates, often placing as far back as 7th or 8th. I think he is way off the mark on Warner (no pun intended). There's not a chance in hell that Warner will outperform Bayh regardless of where Bayh ends up in the race. The acne-scarred Warner projects poorly on television and has a very spotty record on which to run. The fact that Warner is ranked so highly is indicative of the inside-the-beltway mentality that is driving Todd's analysis.
Edward's time has probably past already. Lacking any executive experience, the one-term Senator from North Carolina doesn't stack up well against the "alternative" group of candidates that will battle to topple the obvious front-runner, Sen. Clinton. The absolute worst thing that could happen to Bayh's candidacy is for Al Gore to enter the race. That will turn the race into a Clinton-Gore battle royale, which will leave the other candidates lost in their dust.