Saturday, September 03, 2011

2012 Caucuses After All

2012 Caucuses After All

Well we've learned something about Caucus Night, but not enough to nail it down.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer made a non-decision of sorts. Today was the deadline if she wanted to move the state's primary to an against the rules Jan. 31, but last night Brewer announced that she would not pick that date. The between the lines story: the RNC bought her off by scheduling a debate in the state.

Brewer still has the ability, for the next month or so, to move the Arizona date up sooner than its current, default, still against the rules date of Feb. 28. (It's an ever-shrinking option: she has to pick the date 150 days ahead.) But let's assume for now that she stays on 2/28.

The rules both parties agreed to state that four states get to go in February: us, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina. February 28 is supposed to be South Carolina's day. Also throw chronic rule-breaker Florida into the mix; their mantra is "we want to be fifth."

If Arizona goes on Tuesday 2/28, that bumps South Carolina back to 2/21. Florida has indicates a willingness to go on a non-traditional day in order to be fifth. So squeeze them in on Thursday the 23rd or Saturday the 25th and hope that South Carolina won't insist on a full week between them and the next state.

Nevada is supposed to go before South Carolina. They have the least tradition of any of the early states and went on a Saturday last cycle. Let's pencil them in for Saturday the 18th.

New Hampshire will insist on a full week and on a traditional Tuesday date, so, February 7.

That's the day after the current official Caucus Night. Iowa law "requires" that we go eight days before anyone else (again: what if every state had that law?) which would make us Monday, January 31st.

But the national parties would like to keep it in February. That's not as much of a mental barrier as the calendar year was in 2008. But we broke the eight day precedent and the Monday tradition in 2008 by going on Thursday 1/3/08 and only five days before New Hampshire, in order to stay in calendar `08.

So my bet is Tuesday 2/1 or Thursday 2/3. Wednesday is generally "church night" which probably precludes Groundhog Day. Still too early? Yeah, but the latest it's been since 1996.

Of course, some state might come out of nowhere to mess this up, but Brewer's inaction makes it much more likely that the 2012 caucuses will be IN 2012.

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