WASHINGTON (CNN) – Iowa Republicans and Democrats will have two days to shake off their New Years hangovers before braving the bitter January cold to cast the first votes in the 2008 race for the White House.
The Iowa Democratic Party on Sunday evening formally approved January 3 to hold its caucus, joining Hawkeye State Republicans, who approved the date for their own nominating event earlier this month.
"This date maintains the important common-sense principle of beginning the delegate selection process in the same calendar year as the election for which we are selecting delegates," Scott Brennan, chairman of Iowa Democratic Party, said in a statement. "But the overarching principle is to retain the importance of the caucuses. Holding the caucuses on the same day as the Republican Party of Iowa shows solidarity and unity in working to protect Iowa's First-in-the-Nation status, an important argument in the years to come."
The Iowa Democrats’ decision is one of the final pieces of the presidential nominating calendar puzzle to fall into place. New Hampshire still has not set a date for its primary, but Secretary of State William Gardner could make an announcement once the presidential primary filing period in his state closes Friday. With Iowa now scheduled to hold its contests January 3, Gardner could choose January 8 as the date for the New Hampshire primary.
Iowa Republicans and Democrats were originally scheduled to hold their caucuses January 14. The state parties, however, moved to January 3 because other states such as Michigan and individual state parties including the South Carolina Republican Party moved their primaries into mid-January. New Hampshire was scheduled to hold its primary January 22 under the original calendar.
Iowa and New Hampshire have traditionally been the first states to cast votes for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees, and have worked hard to protect this privileged status.
As it now stands, there could be a total of 14 presidential nominating contests in January leading up to February 5, commonly referred to as “Super Tuesday.” On this day, more than 20 states will cast votes for the next Democratic and Republican presidential nominees. The major Democratic candidates have agreed not to participate in the Michigan and Florida primaries because these states violate the Democratic National Committee’s rules prohibiting any states other than Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina from holding nominating contests before February 5.
A quick glance at the presidential nominating calendar
Iowa Republican caucus
Iowa Democratic caucus
Wyoming Republican caucus
New Hampshire Republican primary (? New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner still needs to set the date).
New Hampshire Democratic primary (? New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner still needs to set the date).
Michigan Republican primary
Michigan Democratic primary
Nevada Republican caucus
Nevada Democratic caucus
South Carolina Republican primary
South Carolina Democratic primary (Probable. The South Carolina Democratic Party is currently scheduled to hold its primary on January 29, but will ask the DNC to allow the contest to be held three days earlier).
Florida Democratic primary
Florida Republican primary
Maine Republican caucus
“Super Tuesday”– 20-plus states hold presidential nominating contests
– CNN Political Editor Mark Preston and CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch