Parties get early jump on 2012 primary calendar

The 2010 midterm elections aren't finished but both parties are planning for the 2012 presidential election.

The biggest issue on table: the calendar of primaries and caucuses that decide the party's nominee.

New Hampshire will retain its first-in-the-nation primary status while other states will hold their contests in an "orderly timetable" throughout the beginning of the year, according to plans from both parties.

This must-read piece in the Boston Globe looks ahead two years to the White House race and how the parties will persuade states to follow their calendar recommendations.

From the article:

Officials from both parties have separate proposals that would ban states from holding their vote before the first Tuesday of March, with four exemptions: the Granite State; Iowa, which holds the first caucuses; South Carolina; and Nevada. And no state can hold a contest before Feb. 1.

Implicit in the plans is the parties’ determination to infuse more discipline into the scheduling. …

[As an incentive to get the states to comply] the Democrats are dangling the prospect of extra delegates; Republicans are discussing allowing winner-take-all contests in later states instead of proportional allotment of delegates. A winner-take-all allotment makes a state’s haul more valuable to candidates.

The early planning is a reaction to the 2008 race, where states jockeyed to move up their primary dates in order to have more influence in the presidential nominating process. New Hamsphire cast ballots on Jan. 8th, its earliest contest ever, in order to keep its first-in-the-nation primary status. The Iowa caucuses took place Jan. 3rd. 

Several states lost delegates because they moved up their primary dates.

Both parties have set their dates for the 2012 conventions: Republicans will hold theirs August 27-30, 2012, in Tampa. Democrats will hold theirs from Sept. 3-6, 2012, but are still deciding what city to pick.