The maneuvering of early primary and caucus states is getting out of hand at this point once Florida set loose the avalanche of changes claiming January 31st as their primary day. As a result, South Carolina moves, New Hampshire moves, Nevada moves and Iowa moves.
With the Iowa caucuses now happening in early January and Nevada likely happening on January 14th, New Hampshire’s Secretary of State is bound by law to move the Granite State primary possibly into early December.
Report from USA Today:
Could New Hampshire voters be choosing a 2012 GOP presidential nominee … in early December?
New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner raises the possibility in a memo that also puts pressure on Nevada to push back its GOP presidential caucuses from Jan. 14 to Jan. 17 or later.
If not, Gardner writes, “it leaves New Hampshire no choice but to consider December of this year.” He says the Granite State’s “realistic options” would be Dec. 6 or Dec. 13.
“Right now, the problem is the date of Nevada,” Gardner writes. “We will respond as we need to in order to honor New Hampshire’s tradition, and to keep our primary relevant.”
The 2012 political calendar has been on a bit of a roller coaster ride since Florida set its primary for Jan. 31. The Sunshine State, like Arizona before it, flouted rules set by the Republican National Committee barring states except Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina from holding a nominating event before March 6.
Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina all rescheduled in response to Florida to preserve their “first in the nation” status, while New Hampshire still hasn’t set a primary date. State law gives Gardner sole authority to do so, and mandates that its election be seven days or more before any other “similar election.”
The Iowa caucuses, which are tentatively set for Jan. 3, are not considered a “similar election” in the eyes of New Hampshire law because Iowa delegates for the presidential nominating convention are chosen at a different time.
If there was ever a reason to set some hard limits on the primary process, I think this time is it. Moving earlier and earlier only hastens the process and waters down the campaigning. If New Hampshire drops in December, it will be long over by the time we hit Iowa and the rest. In doing so, a December primary would actually minimize New Hampshire’s impact on the race since it will be written off as an inaccurate indicator too early in the process.
This battle is far from over, I’d expect the next month to shake things out before we might get a solid schedule for the primary dates.
Essentially now it’s up to Nevada to save the day and move from the 14th to the 17th to at least halt some of the madness. The real culprit is Florida and their leapfrogging of the line this time around.