Republicans in the state of Nevada decided to move their caucus date from 1/14/12 to 2/4/12 – the move not only saved them from incurring a delegate penalty from their own party, it also cleared the way for New Hampshire to avoid being forced to schedule the nation’s first primary sometime in December 2011.
New Hampshire law requires its primary to be at least seven days prior to any similar electoral event, and the Iowa caucuses are already set for 1/3/12, so a 1/14 Nevada event would have forced NH to either waive its own law or move its primary into December – and possibly fairly early in December to avoid the holidays.
Nevada’s move to February opens up 1/10/12 for New Hampshire.
According to Chris Cillizza’s Morning Fix in the Washington Post, the schedule seems to be shaping up like this.
Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses
Jan. 10 New Hampshire primary
Jan. 21 South Carolina primary
Jan. 31 Florida primary
Feb. 4 Nevada caucuses
Feb. 4-11 Maine caucuses
Feb. 7 Minnesota and Colorado caucuses, non-binding Missouri primary
Feb. 28 Arizona and Michigan primaries
March 3: Washington caucuses
March 6: Super Tuesday
RBR-TVBR observation: The biggest problem with the earlier dates on the schedule for broadcasters is that it takes a time when they hope to be flooded with late holiday advertising, and adds in a flood of political candidates seeking time. There is only so much inventory on the shelf.
In the end, it will likely be great news for stations and dayparts that are usually farther down the food chain. No time available on the local news-talker? We’ll just have to go with the AC and Country stations. No time available on the local news programs? We’ll just have to buy spots elsewhere on the schedule.
We would expect to see solid spending throughout the schedule with better spreading of the wealth on a station by station basis in states with early events.