In 2001, Stacey founded DiscussionDIVAS as an outlet for women to discuss current events and happenings in a social setting. Groups met in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and New York for dinner, wine and conversation. In 2006 she took the concept online through the WeeklyDIVA email. Today she’s editor of the WeeklyDIVA and also a working journalist in San Francisco. DiscussionDIVAS

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Getting Your Election Groove On…

WeeklyDIVA for TodaysMama

The 2008 presidential election may be (gasp) 16 months away, but there’s no dearth of election-related news as a crowded field of candidates on both the left and right maneuver for their party’s nomination. And while there are a slew of names and issues to keep straight, for now, let’s focus on the basics.

Your voice may be heard sooner!

For decades, the famed Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary have served as the first and most important primary events—where results help make or break presidential candidates. But their influence may be tested in January, when for the first time, three other states have bumped up their primaries to steal a bit of the thunder. Nevada will hold its caucus between Iowa and New Hampshire, and South Carolina and Florida will quickly follow.

But the big show comes February 5, or the new “Super Tuesday,” when a whopping 20+ states will host primaries much earlier than usual—including major players like California (usually in June), New Jersey (usually in June) and Illinois (usually in March). It’s an expensive prospect and logistical nightmare for the candidates, who will have to select where to focus time and money for the best results.

Why the change?

In the past, numerous candidates, even President Harry S. Truman, have dropped out after poor performance in Iowa or New Hampshire. This means bigger states with later primaries have ultimately had less influence on the final nominees. By moving the primaries earlier, many states are attempting to give their constituents more of a say in the nomination process.

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What’s a caucus anyway?

Caucuses are different because they don’t operate like a regular election. Candidates are chosen essentially by a show of hands taken at small, in-person meetings. Though the process is different, the outcome of a more formal primary election and a caucus is the same—a candidate wins.

It’ll be September before we know the final players

After the primaries and caucuses, candidates are officially nominated at party conventions. The ’08 convention season will kick off in late August with the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colo. History dictates the party that does not hold the White House hold its convention first. The Republican National Convention will follow in early September in Minneapolis, Minn.

The big picture

It is a long way to go until the election itself, but don’t despair! This promises to be a fantastic contest with a greater mix of gender and race in the candidate pool than ever before. Will this drive more female voters to the polls? Will we see more African-American voters? More Hispanics? In addition to the war, immigration, alternative energy, the environment and healthcare are all hot topics sure to be front and center. And while it seems like a lot to keep up with, the WeeklyDIVA and TodaysMama will be here to see you through it, help you get involved, and help you cast well-informed votes.

This article is brought to you by WeeklyDIVA. Stay informed EACH WEEK with the WeeklyDIVA, which boils down hot topics in the news into just enough to help you survive any dinner party conversation.

—Stacey

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