The following is a look at the calendar with Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina placed where the national parties have specified and when contests in the remaining primary states are scheduled according to state law. For a glimpse at what the 2012 presidential primary calendar looks like currently, click here.
No, nothing is official and nothing will be regarding the 2012 presidential nomination rules until August. However, let's assume for a moment that the rules as currently proposed in both parties will be adopted. That means that Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina can hold contests in February while the remaining states and territories have to carve out a space between the first Tuesday in March and the first Tuesday in June. The scuttlebutt from New Hampshire -- at least following the Republican Temporary Delegate Selection Committee recommendations -- has been that, under that scenario, Iowa would hold its caucuses on the first Monday in February followed by the New Hampshire primary eight days later. Nevada and South Carolina would hold their events at least a week later. Then, once March 7 hits, all the remaining states would be free to schedule their delegate selection events.
Yes FHQ, but how would the calendar look? I'm glad you asked.
2012 Presidential Primary Calendar (under proposed new rules--pre-sanction)
Tuesday, January 31: Florida
Tuesday, January 31: Florida
Monday, February 6: Iowa caucuses
Tuesday, February 7 (Super Tuesday): Alabama, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah
Saturday, February 11: Louisiana
Tuesday, February 14: New Hampshire, Maryland, Virginia
Tuesday, February 21: Nevada caucuses, South Carolina Republican primary, Hawaii Republican caucuses, Wisconsin
Tuesday, February 28: Arizona**, Michigan***
Tuesday, March 6: Massachusetts***, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont
Tuesday, March 13: Mississippi
Tuesday, March 20: Colorado caucuses****, Illinois
Tuesday, April 24: Pennsylvania
Tuesday, May 8: Indiana, North Carolina and West Virginia
Tuesday, May 15: Nebraska, Oregon
Tuesday, May 22: Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky
Tuesday, June 5: Montana, New Mexico***** and South Dakota
*New Hampshire law calls for the Granite state to hold a primary on the second Tuesday of March or seven days prior to any other similar election, whichever is earlier. Florida is first now, so New Hampshire would be a week earlier at the latest. Traditionally, Iowa has gone on the Monday a week prior to New Hampshire. For the time being we'll wedge Nevada and South Carolina in on the Saturday between New Hampshire and Florida, but these are just guesses at the moment. Any rogue states could cause a shift.
**In Arizona the governor can use his or her proclamation powers to move the state's primary to a date on which the event would have an impact on the nomination. In 2004 and 2008 the primary was moved to the first Tuesday in February.
***Massachusetts and Michigan are the only states that passed a frontloading bill prior to 2008 that was not permanent. The Bay state reverts to its first Tuesday in March date in 2012 while Michigan will fall back to the fourth Tuesday in February.
****The Colorado Democratic and Republican parties have the option to move their caucuses from the third Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in February.
*****The law in New Mexico allows the parties to decide when to hold their nominating contests. The Democrats have gone in early February in the last two cycles, but the GOP has held steady in June. They have the option of moving however.
No, I doubt Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina volunteer to take those spots, too. None of those states will jump first and wait on the remaining early states to move back to comply with the national parties' proposed rules. Iowa won't volunteer to go after Florida and New Hampshire won't willingly hold its primary after Super Tuesday. Iowa and New Hampshire are never the first to move anyway. They reserve the right to move last -- after every other state has locked into position.
FHQ doesn't want to risk beating a dead horse here, but this is just another way of showing how difficult it is going to be for the parties to get those February states in line. The "yes, but look what happens if we stay put" argument comes out in full force if there isn't an adequate enforcement mechanism in place. I think Florida would quite like this set up, don't you? Of course, Iowa and New Hampshire would shift the dates of their contests to something like this* if that happened.