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May 14th, 2010

Iowa Maintains First-In-The-Nation Status in 2012

Before you know it, presidential hopefuls will once again inundate the state of Iowa. If you want to get technical about it, you could easily say that we already are.

Congressman Ron Paul is scheduled to speak at the Campaign for Liberty’s mid-west conference in Des Moines tonight. Newt Gingrich is planning to barnstorm the state on May 26th, hitting Davenport, Cedar Rapids, and Des Moines. For months now, potential candidates like Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, George Pataki and Rick Santorum have been visiting the state.

Most Iowa Republicans are not focused on the 2012 caucuses yet. With contested races up and down the primary ballot, and Governor Culver being incredibly venerable, there is good reason for Iowa Republicans to not be looking too far ahead.

That said, earlier this week, the Republican National Committee’s Temporary Delegate Selection Committee (TDSC), recommended a rule that would continue to protect Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status., a move that sends a signal to potential presidential candidates that Iowa will once again will kick-off the nominating process.

The TDSC rule stated, “No primary, caucus, or convention to elect, select, allocate, or bind delegates to the national convention shall occur prior to the first Tuesday in March in the year in which a national convention is held. Except Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada may begin their processes at any time on or after February 1.”

Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn, told, “The rule that the TDSC recommend will punish any state other than Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada, that holds their primary or caucus before April 1st by allocating the delegates won in those contests proportionally, instead of winner take all.”

While that might deter some states, a few states already award delegates proportionally by congressional district, and other states might be willing to have their delegates awarded that way in exchange for all of the attention they would receive by moving up in the nomination calendar. The only way that the RNC can prevent frontloading is to not count the delegates from any state that doesn’t follow the RNC rules.

Strawn added that it would take a 2/3 vote of the RNC to pass the rule, which could happen at the summer RNC meeting in Kansas City.

While it’s not official, the TDSC’s recommendation signifies that Iowa will once again lead off the nominating process. What it does not do, however, is allow Iowans to set a date for the caucuses.

In the 2008 caucuses, the date wasn’t selected until October, just a few months before the caucuses. Hopefully that will not be the case for the 2012 caucuses, but for Iowa to maintain its status, it will have to react to any state that ignores RNC rules.

Iowans would like to believe that the reason presidential candidates visit the Hawkeye state is because they want to listen to our concerns. There is no doubt that these candidates do care and want to listen to what we have to say, but it’s not the great people of our state that bring these politicians here. It’s the first-in-the-nation caucuses.

Since 1976, the Iowa Caucuses have kicked off the presidential nominating process. Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status is a privilege, not a right. There are numerous states, mostly ones with a greater population and thus more electoral votes, that would love to steal the spotlight we receive every four years.

Fortunately, Iowa and the other small states that traditionally kick off the nominating process have done a good job making the case for why these small states should have such a major role in determining who the nominees are. The best case that states like Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina can make is that candidates must engage in retail politics to be successful in each.

The caucuses also provide candidates without a huge war chest the ability compete. Larger states such as Florida, Michigan, Ohio, and California, would require candidates to run radio and TV ads in a number of media markets, while Iowa only have five.

The TDSC should be commended for their recommendation. If the RNC is able to vote on the nomination schedule this summer, hopefully the 2012 presidential campaign calendar will be more predictable and spaced out that it was in 2008.

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About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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