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October 14th, 2011

Is Romney’s Manipulation of the Nomination Calendar About to Backfire?

Ever since the 1996 presidential election, the start of the nomination calendar has been in flux.  That year, Hawaii, Alaska, and Louisiana each held their caucuses before Iowa and New Hampshire held their contests.  It’s hard to believe that Pat Buchanan won three of the first five states in 1996.  Buchanan scored victories in Alaska, Louisiana, and New Hampshire, but ultimately lost the Republican nomination to Bob Dole.

If a modern day candidate was able to put together a string of early victories like Buchanan did in ’96, it’s hard to believe they wouldn’t be the Republican nominee.  Presidential politics has changed dramatically over the last 16 years, but the jockeying of the primary calendar has been an unfortunate constant.

The chaos in the nomination calendar is at an all time high this cycle.  It’s also not a coincidence that the volatility in the primary calendar over the past four years has seemed to help one candidate in particular – Mitt Romney.

Multiple news reports indicate that Romney lobbied the Nevada GOP to set its caucus on January 14th.  In fact, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported, “We moved the date for the good of Nevada, not the Romney campaign,” said former Gov. Robert List, the GOP national committeeman on the board, who went on to add, “But Romney’s people were pushing for us to move into January so that he could get some momentum and have a rising tide going into Florida.”

What the paper failed to mention is that Romney’s former campaign aide, Gentry Collins, and Collins’ public affairs firm was hired by the Nevada Republican Party to serve as its advisor for the 2012 caucuses.  Collins, a former Executive Director of the Republican Party of Iowa, is part of a new public relations firm called, CAP Public Affairs.  The firm also includes Jim Anderson, another former Iowa GOP executive director.

With two former Iowa GOP bosses consulting the Nevada Republican Party, it seems odd that they would advise the Nevada GOP to select a date that would throw a wrench in the slotting of the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary.  That is, unless they were somehow trying to aid the Romney campaign’s desire to move up Nevada’s caucuses to mid January.

Nevada Republicans initially indicated that they would not move the date of their primary into January because they did not want to lose half of their delegates to the national convention.  However they quickly changed their tune, and set their caucus for January 14th.  While the Romney advocates have stated that Romney encouraged Nevada to move forward in hopes that it would help him maintain momentum after winning New Hampshire, one could also speculate that there was a more sinister motive for Romney.

The Romney people likely knew that placing the Nevada caucuses on January 14th would put a major squeeze on Iowa and New Hampshire.  It’s conceivable that they also believed that New Hampshire would select an early January date, thus forcing Iowa into December to remain first in the nomination order.  There is just one problem.  For that to happen, New Hampshire would have needed to select its day quickly, and quickness is not an attribute that Secretary of State Gardner possesses.  Instead, Iowa announced that it would hold its caucuses on January 3rd, a move that the State Central Committee plans to formalize on Monday.

While Gardner may be difficult to work with, he’s not about to be the pawn of a presidential candidate, even one who happens to own a home in New Hampshire.  Now there is a serious possibility that New Hampshire could hold its primary in early December, and with Romney already having a substantial lead in the polls there, the contest could be rendered meaningless because of a December date, and the fact that Romney appears to have the state sown up.

So, it is possible that Romney’s manipulation of the nomination calendar could now backfire on him.  If New Hampshire holds its primary in December, and Iowa holds firm on January 3rd, Romney may be forced to compete in the very state that he has basically ignored since 2008 and attempted to make irrelevant because he will need to find a substantial victory heading into Florida.

Romney doesn’t seem to be backing off.  Last night, his campaign announced they wouldn’t join the boycott of the Nevada Caucuses if the Nevada GOP sticks with their January 14th date.    Still, it might be wise for Romney to encourage the Nevada to slide back to the 17th to provide the necessary space for New Hampshire to hold its primary on the 10th.  If Nevada doesn’t budge, Romney may have singlehandedly rendered the New Hampshire primary meaningless by forcing it into December.

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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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