Iowa’s move — combined with Democrats’ efforts to redo their initial order to start with South Carolina — means the New Hampshire primary will most likely take place on Tuesday, Jan. 23, eight days after the Iowa caucuses.
But for the race for the Republican presidential nomination, that could leave a long gap between Iowa and New Hampshire at the start and the rest of the races. South Carolina’s state GOP — another of the four traditional early « clipping » states that the Republican National Committee says can host early nomination contests — last month set its prime date for Feb. 24.
Nevada, the fourth-largest state, is almost certain to hold its caucuses in February, but its plans have not yet been finalized.
After these four states, Michigan has a chance to slip to fifth place with the primaries on February 27th. Otherwise, more than a dozen states are expected to vote the following week on March 5 on « Super Tuesday, » including delegate-rich California and Texas.
While there is less attention this cycle on the Democratic nomination, the Iowa state Democratic Party had said it plans to hold its caucuses on the same day as the Republicans. Rita Hart, the state’s Democratic chairwoman, said her party had no input on the Republican date and would continue to pursue a caucus that would allow more Democrats to attend than traditional in-person-only meetings.
« No matter what, Iowa Democrats are committed to moving forward with the most inclusive caucus process in Iowa history, » Hart said in a statement.
The Democratic National Committee, in picking South Carolina first and both Nevada and New Hampshire to follow second, said Iowa would not abide by its delegate rules if it held the Jan. 15 caucuses, nor would it the New Hampshire state administration. primary if it was held on January 23rd.
But since the South Carolina state Democratic Party intends to hold a party-run primary on Saturday, February 3, New Hampshire state law states that primaries must be held at least seven days before any other primary. This is what will likely trigger the switch to January 23rd. (Because Iowa holds the caucuses and not the primaries, New Hampshire can hold the primary afterwards).
In a statement, Iowa state GOP chairman Jeff Kaufmann said the date honors « our half-century-old promises to other clipped states. »