"The Nevada Republican Executive Committee voted Wednesday to hold the party's 2012 presidential caucus on February 18, a decision that could make GOP voters in the "First in the West" state third in line to vote for their party's next nominee."
The February 18, 2012 date for the Republican caucuses in the Silver state is aligned with where the Democratic Rules and Bylaws Committee had Nevada slated on their calendar for the Democratic nomination. I'm less surprised by the setting of the date than I am by the timing of it all. The Nevada Republican Party is not taking the wait-and-see approach that Iowa and New Hampshire (or even South Carolina Republicans) typically take for setting the dates on which their delegate selection events are held. Those states let all the other states that are going to move make their moves and then react. For various reasons -- the state parties, not state legislatures, control the date setting power in Iowa and South Carolina and the New Hampshire secretary of state holds that power in the Granite state -- those earliest of states are better able to move than other states. Of course, it helps to get an exemption from the national parties as well. The Nevada Republican Party is acting as if it does not have that privilege by setting their caucuses date this early in the 2012 cycle.
There is precedence for this, however. Nevada Republicans moved their first round contests to February 2008 (basically where they were in 2004) in March 2007, but quickly changed that a month later to align their contest with the January 19 timing of the Nevada Democratic caucuses. Again, without having to filter this date-setting decision through the state government -- state legislature and governor -- state parties have much more leeway to shift the dates on which their, typically, caucuses are held. They can revisit the date with much more freedom than the state governmental apparatus.
That isn't to say that Nevada will or won't move again ahead of 2012, but until some other states, especially those eighteen February states* that have to change their state laws to come into compliance with the new national party rules, make a move, an asterisk should be placed next to Nevada for now. FHQ will use pencil for the moment. Once the state legislatures begin convening next and start addressing this issue, we can maybe shift to chiseling it into stone for 2012.
*That count includes one primary currently scheduled for January, Florida.