Iowa’s Caucuses are currently scheduled for February 6, 2012, and the deadline for officials in other states to set the dates for their presidential primary and caucus elections is October 1.

However, Arizona has already moved its primary up to February 28 and other states, including Michigan and Florida, are considering that same date. February 28 also is the current date for the “First in the South” Primary in South Carolina. Iowa Republican Party chairman Matt Strawn says it’s likely South Carolina will move its date forward, prompting similar moves in the three other early voting states of Nevada, New Hampshire and Iowa.

“I’m going to be cautiously optimistic that we can stick to the February 6 date, but even if we have to move it, there’s not going to be that rush to the start of the year like we saw four years ago.” 

The 2008 Iowa Caucuses were held January 3.

“It is certainly my hope and I’m working to make sure that Iowans are not Caucusing simultaneously with their New Year’s,” Strawn says.

According to Strawn, there are two key factors prompting other states to stay in their traditional position in the presidential election calendar rather than moving forward.  Strawn says the 2008 election and the long-running contest between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton showed states could have an impact on determining a presidential nominee far into the campaign season rather than just at the beginning.

“A number of the states have very difficult financial constraints and those states that pay for their own primary elections have decided to move them back to maybe general primary election dates in their states,” Strawn says, “so I think state budget reasons have forced a number of states to move back as well.”

Florida officials plan to announce the date of their state’s primary on September 30, right before the October 1 deadline.  Republican National Committee rules allow only four states — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina — to hold presidential election contests in the month of February.  States which break the rule and schedule voting in February will lose half their delegates to the party’s national convention, which means a loss of influence for states if the nominating contest goes all the way to convention.