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CNN is reporting that the South Carolina Republican Party will choose a January 21 date for its presidential primary.1 The date puts South Carolina ten days before the recently-scheduled Florida primary; just as it was in 2008. The move also places a great deal of pressure on the remaining three early states -- Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada -- to fit their contests into a 17 day window from January 1-17. Realistically, the three will be shoehorned into an even smaller window based on the holidays.
As FHQ mentioned last night, any date earlier than January 24 for the South Carolina primary risks pushing the process into December. This brings into starker contrast the proposed four day window between Nevada and New Hampshire, a Nevada Republican Party rule that violates New Hampshire law. According to New Hampshire law, no similar contest can can be held within a week after New Hampshire's primary. More accurately, the New Hampshire primary cannot be scheduled for a date that is within a week after the primary in the Granite state.
Again, how that difference is resolved with determine the final calendar. And the task just got harder. It can still be done, but the Nevada Republican Party will have to change its rule that places its caucuses on the Saturday after New Hampshire.
That would look something like this:
Monday, January 2: Iowa
Tuesday, January 10: New Hampshire
Tuesday, January 17: Nevada
Saturday, January 21: South Carolina
Tuesday, January 31: Florida
I don't know what the feeling in Nevada is about Tuesday caucus meetings, but the Nevada GOP may have to warm to the idea. The alternative is that New Hampshire either opts to push the button and hold a primary in December or New Hampshire pushes its primary up to a point that forces Iowa to slip into late December.
But as I said yesterday, get ready for an increased level of December threats coming from New Hampshire.
1 Here is the release from the South Carolina Republican Party:
SCGOP Chairman Connelly announces 2012 Presidential Primary dateFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SOUTH CAROLINA REPUBLICAN PARTY
Columbia, S.C. – SCGOP Chairman Chad Connelly today announced South Carolina’s 2012 Republican Presidential Primary date. Chairman Connelly commented:
“Last Friday, a nine person committee brought chaos to the 2012 calendar. Today, South Carolina is making things right.
“South Carolina Republicans have a thirty year track record of picking the eventual Republican Presidential nominee. We will continue that historic tradition on January 21, 2012.
“It will undoubtedly be a spirited campaign to make Barack Obama just the worst ONE term President in American history. We are united in this mission, and any candidate who ignores South Carolina does so at great peril.”
Additional Note: In conjunction with Fox News, the South Carolina Republican Party will also host a “First in the South” Republican Debate in the days leading up to the primary.