Stateline Story

Iowa Still First in Presidential Pecking Order

The frantic shuffling of states' primary dates ahead of the 2008 presidential election is still fresh in mind. But at least one thing appears certain heading into the 2010 campaign cycle: Iowa's caucuses will remain the first — and most significant — electoral test in the nation.

The Republican National Committee voted Friday (Aug. 6) to keep Iowa in its position as holding the first GOP nominating contest in the nation, The Washington Post reported . Under the plan, New Hampshire will have the nation's first primary (as opposed to a caucus) a few days later.

Significantly, both states will vote in February 2010, because Republicans decided to postpone the accelerated calendar that was in place in 2008, when Iowans voted in early January and and nation's campaign season was pushed forward substantially. South Carolina and Nevada voters also will have the chance to choose their presidential nominees in February, while other states will be encouraged to hold their contests in April or later, The Post reported.

The Democratic National Committee will vote on its own presidential nominating schedule later this month, but The Des Moines Register reported that it is unlikely to differ from the GOP calendar, at least when it comes to Iowa.

States' presidential primary calendars were a major point of debate two years ago. As Stateline reported after interviewing 17 governors at the National Governors Association meeting in February 2008, many of them considered the early campaign calendar " a mess to be avoided for 2012 ."

"When you have to choose between attending the Iowa caucus and taking down your Christmas tree," Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour told Stateline then, "something's wrong with the system."