When an Iowa political blog mentions the calendar — everyone knows that the calender in question is the caucus/primary process of the two political parties. Most importantly it refers to Iowa's first in the nation caucuses.
John Deeth has a post today on the Democrat reform committee recommendations. There will be changes to the so-called superdelegates. But Deeth asks the most important question, what about Iowa? Deeth says:
Next month's Saturday (1/23) caucus is supposedly part of the deal, a bone thrown to Hillary Clinton's argument that a weeknight discourages attendance. That'd put us on Saturday 2/4/2012, with New Hampshire probably Tuesday 2/12, Nevada Saturday 2/17 and South Carolina on Tuesday 2/19.
The million dollar question: will the GOP cooperate? What if Iowa Republicans start playing leapfrog and land on January 21 or 14? Which takes precedent: Iowa's 30 year tradition of the parties going on the same date, or the Democratic Party rules?
Keeping in mind that I am no longer on the Republican State Central Committee and do not speak for the Republican Party of Iowa — I have some thoughts on the issue.
First, Saturday Caucus: I posted on this issue before. The Saturday Caucus idea came from RPI. The Democrats already had a date and we suggested that they join us in trying a Saturday in order to increase attendance in the off year. This was not a concession to the Hillary camp.
They key phrase here is off year. However, with President Obama eligible for re-election, 2012 will be an off-year for Democrats but not for Republicans — especially Iowa Republicans. In a year with no incumbent Republican president, the caucuses are huge for the candidates, the GOP and RPI. Putting them on a weekend, outside the normal news cycle is unthinkable. This was diuscussed when the original Saturday caucus proposal was made to the SCC.
Second, February: I am not sure what machinations the RNC will go through in setting dates for nominating contests vs. caucuses like Iowa that do not actually nominate delegates. But Iowa will advocate for first in the nation even if it means January 3rd like 2008.
Third, there is a 30 year tradition of keeping the same date. While I would like to see that tradition continue, both RPI and IDP will work to remain first. While it does not matter to the Democrats this time, if they give up first in the nation now — it sets a precedent for the future.