The Republican rules committee yesterday toughened the sanctions on states that go too early:
The amendment to the party rules, pushed by protected the four "carve out" states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada, would institute draconian penalties making it less likely for any other state to move their primary earlier than the last Tuesday in February. Any violating state would see their delegates to the national convention to just 9, as opposed to half of their allotment as was enforced this year.Nine delegates. For the whole state of Florida. To put that in perspective: my COUNTY has four Democratic national delegates.
The trick, of course, is in the enforcement. The Democrats caved in 2008 but the one real punishment Michigan and Florida got was a fairly effective candidate boycott. And that's the fun part of being an early state. Caucus night itself sucks. It's crowded and noisy and hard to follow, and it has MATH and FORMS which prove to be a little challenging for some. It's the year before that's the good part, with all the attention from candidates. (Though, with the repeated visits from both tickets the last couple weeks and next, it's starting to feel like caucus season again.)
So the first round goes our way. But Iowans have a lot of work to do the next three years to keep that first spot.