What a shame it will take place. Twenty-two states are involved, which means that an enormous factor will be name-recognition, and not the policies or even the political appeal of a candidate will matter. Why not have a national primary on January 2?
In the past when primaries were spaced out, there was a chance that, given a competitive race, the candidates would go from state-to-state and have to connect with the people and politicians in that region. And discuss matters important to them (agriculture, trade, manufacturing). And throughout this period the voters would get a much better understanding of what the candidate was like, and what they stood for.
We need primary-schedule reform. But not to a bunch of regional primaries (too many states/voters). But a bunch of regional small-state primaries, followed by regional medium-state primaries, and ending up with large-state primaries. The notion, often presented, that because California was last to hold a primary it therefore didn't meaningfully "choose" a candidate is flawed. California matters when the race is close, which isn't very often, but that's how the mathematics works. When the race is close, as it appears to be now, it would be better for California to wait and watch and render a judgement in June. As it is, California will hold a primary next week and all the voters will know is the smattering they've picked up on the news, plus whatever big-money-advertisements shoved their way. A compressed schedule helps an establishment candidate (Clinton) or one with name recognition (McCain) or someone with lots of money (Clinton/Romney). And it's not in the intrest of progressives.