This week, the 2012 presidential campaign gets its official start with the Iowa caucuses as a half-dozen Republicans battle for the first votes in the nominating contest.
By the time North Carolina's presidential primary rolls around in May, the nominee for each political party is usually a foregone conclusion. (The exception is the Democratic contest in 2008.)
Whether North Carolina voters will play a role in the ongoing GOP contest is debatable. Newt Gingrich's team modeled one path to the nomination that included the Tar Heel state. But other candidates are only using the state to raise money during campaign swings in South Carolina.
The Hawkeye state's traditional role as the frontrunner draws much criticism every four years because its voters are not representative of the nation as a whole. The same applies to New Hampshire and South Carolina, which host the next two primaries.
One political pundit at The Huffington Post is suggesting an interesting solution: put North Carolina second on the primary calendar. Will Bower, a critic of the traditional primary calendar, proposes making the states with the narrowest margins of victory in the previous presidential campaign vote first.
This would put North Carolina -- which gave Barack Obama a 14,177 vote victory in 2008 -- second to Missouri, where John McCain won by 0.1 percent. He writes:
"The purpose of selecting states according to narrowest margins-of-victory is to help the political parties determine which candidates can best appeal to the citizens of those states that have found themselves most recently on the Electoral Divide. A candidate who is able in 2012 to appeal to Indiana and Florida, for example, is more likely to appeal to a greater number of Americans on the whole."
So what would an New Hampshire-styled presidential primary look like in North Carolina?