The early-voting states of New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina will lose half of their Republican convention delegates when, as expected, they move their primary dates up to be ahead of Florida, according to Republican National Committee officials.

Florida Republicans voted to move their primary to Jan. 31 on Friday, which will cost them half of their delegates under RNC rules. The rules allow only Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada to hold their primaries before March 6. Arizona and Michigan will also hold late February primaries, each sacrificing half its GOP delegates.


Trying to stay ahead of Florida will now cost New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, too.

Senior RNC officials said on a Friday conference call that despite their intention to keep those states and Iowa at the front of the nomination process, "there is no waiver in the rules" for them to move up from February to January.

The states had not planned to move their primary and caucus dates but feel they have been forced to by Florida's maneuver. Iowa is not included in the penalty because its caucus is non-binding on convention delegates.

South Carolina Republican Chairman Chad Connelly said on Thursday that he would pitch a "hissy fit" at the annual RNC meeting if his state was penalized for responding to Florida.

There is no chance that if the states moved up they could be spared the penalty, according to RNC officials, who pointed out that the same three states and Florida were stripped of half their delegates in 2008 after they moved up their primary dates in response to a similar move by Florida.

RNC officials blamed Florida for the conflict, but said there was nothing else they could do.

"The rules are the rules, and the job of the RNC now is to enforce the rules that are in place," one official said.

Saturday is the deadline for the states to submit their primary dates.