Thursday, February 22, 2007

Caucusing With Santa?

Caucusing With Santa?

A fair number of Iowa Dems were unhappy in 2004 and 2006 when we held caucuses on Dr. King's holiday. Several precincts passed resolutions against holding the caucuses on a holiday. But I don't think anyone was worrying about Christmas Eve at that time.

Courtesy of NPR's Ken Rudin, whose Political Junkie column at NPR is a must for trivia geeks and button buffs, we have historic Iowa and New Hampshire dates:

  • 1972: Iowa: Jan. 25; NH: March 7
  • 1976: Iowa: Jan. 19; NH: Feb. 24
  • 1980: Iowa: Jan. 21; NH: Feb. 26
  • 1984: Iowa: Feb. 20; NH: Feb. 28
  • 1988: Iowa: Feb. 8; NH: Feb. 16
  • 1992: Iowa: Feb. 10; NH: Feb. 18
  • 1996: Iowa: Feb. 12; NH: Feb. 20
  • 2000: Iowa: Jan. 24; NH: Feb. 1
  • 2004: Iowa: Jan. 19; NH: Jan. 27
  • 2008: Iowa: Jan. 14; NH: Jan. 22 (subject to revision...)

    The parties started worrying about the schedule getting too early in `84. Iowa moved a month later while New Hampshire stayed the same week, thus beginning the tradition of the Eight Day Gap. The caucuses drifted between Groundhog and President's Days for four cycles, until frontloading started to get really crazy at the turn of the century.

    The Saga of 2000

    Three different 2000 caucus dates were scheduled during 1999, and it wasn't nailed down till October 14, 1999. This was spurred by activity on the GOP side, as South Carolina leapfrogged back and New Hampshire responded.

  • September 18, 1999: Iowa Republicans moved the caucus date from February 7, 2000 to January 31.

  • September 28, 1999: New Hampshire moved back from February 8 to February 1, foiling the now sacred Eight Day Gap.

  • October 14, 1999: Both Iowa parties moved to January 24, 2000. We kept that one. And the Democrats stuck with the IA-NH only "early window" which led to an odd month where only the Republicans had contests while Bill Bradley withered on his deathbed awaiting the final flatline in California.

    So Iowa returned to the January dates of the `70s, but with the now set in granite Eight Day Gap New Hampshire went zooming into January for the first time in 2004.

    2008 can't leapfrog back much more. You thought I was kidding about Santa? We're already into the University's Christmas break. Assuming the caucuses stay on a Monday, Iowa can only move back about a week, to January 7, 2008. Going back any more causes two problems. It lands us in a whole other calendar year which would probably prove unpalatable to the DNC and the punditocracy.

    Making matters worse, the next two Mondays going back are December 31, 2007 and December 24, 2007.
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