DNC set to vote on 2012 presidential nominating calendar

At its summer meeting in St. Louis, Democratic National Committee (DNC) members are expected to approve a new plan for the 2012 presidential primary season that moves back the start date and discourages other states from moving up their primaries. 

The DNC plan would lock in the Iowa caucuses as the kick-off to the primary season, but they would take place on Feb. 6, 2012. In 2008, the caucuses were held on Jan. 3. 

Earlier this month, the Republican National Committee (RNC) approved a new schedule that also locked in Iowa as the first contest in 2012. It barred states from holding primaries before Feb. 1. 

The DNC and RNC plans aren't identical, but the two committees did coordinate on the schedule in an attempt to prevent states from front-loading the nominating calendar in 2012. 

The 2008 cycle saw many states move up their primary dates in an attempt to wield more influence over the race. 

In the short term, it's more of a concern for Republicans than Democrats as the GOP will have a crowded primary contest in 2012.

Along with locking in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina as the lead contests on the calendar in 2012, the RNC also approved new rules that would change the way some states award delegates.

States that hold their nominating contests during the month of March now must award delegates proportionally, similar to the way Democrats award convention delegates. If states want to wait until April, they are permitted to hold so-called winner-take-all contests, which award all of the state's convention delegates to the primary winner. 

Democrats are also looking at ways to incentivize states to hold later contests, including the possibility of providing states additional delegates. 

The DNC is expected to vote on the new plan by Friday.