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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

2012 Calendar: Here We Go Again

A political commentariat that’s finally getting nervous about the slow-to-develop 2012 presidential field has been operating on the assumption that the real show begins on February 6, 2012, the current date for the Iowa Caucuses. That’s where the two parties’ calendars, which only allow four states to hold nominating events prior to March, have placed the starting gun.
But states have to take action to implement the party schedules, and at present, the big fly in the ointment is once again Florida, which under state law is scheduled to hold its primary on January 29, 2012. Unfortunately for those who want an orderly process, Florida legislative leaders, and now superstar U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, are opposing a change in the date.
Much of the talk about Florida’s primary date revolves around the question of whether the national GOP will penalize the state by denying it delegates if it breaks the calendar rules (this was the dilemma that faced Democrats in 2008). But just as important is the almost certain triggering of action by Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina to guarantee their primacy by moving up their own contests into January, as happened four years ago.
Josh Putnam, an expert on this whole topic, is currently projecting that Iowa will hold its caucuses either on January 16 or January 9, with New Hampshire’s primary occurring on January 17 or 24, and Nevada and South Carolina holding their events on January 28. That could all obviously change, but any Republican wanting to run for president would be smart to assume their campaign needs to be in very high gear by Thanksgiving Day of this year.

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