Iowa Caucuses set for Jan. 3

Ashley Seaton

Matt Strawn, chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, announced that GOP leaders voted to secure the Iowa caucus date for Jan. 3, preceding the Nevada primary by 11 days.

After discussion among GOP leaders, the vote was decided on two grounds. The first is to end the chaos for voters by giving a definitive date to anxious Iowans. Second, it will allow New Hampshire flexibility in choosing its primary date, which is to be announced sometime next week.

Iowa and New Hampshire are determined to remain the front-runners in the caucus and primary elections. Traditionally, Iowa has been first, followed by New Hampshire and then Nevada. Because of the scheduling issues induced by Florida, however, there may not be enough time between Iowa and Nevada, forcing New Hampshire to hold its primaries sometime in December.

“My guess is that [Bill Gardner, New Hampshire secretary of state, will] have the New Hampshire primary be a week after caucus,” said Steffen Schmidt, ISU professor of political science.

The question then arises, will Iowa change their date yet again if New Hampshire decides to bring the voting to the end of 2011? The general feeling of the GOP of Iowa is that while changing the date is always an option, it is better for the voting population to have a set date, disregarding if Iowa is the first in the nation.

David Peterson, associate professor of political sciences, said Iowa confirming its caucus date was a necessary decision.

“Given the logistics of organizing the caucus, the party couldn’t wait any longer to make a decision,” according to Peterson.

Voter turnout has been a major cause of worry with caucuses and primaries being held as early as December 2011. Many people are worried that if voting is conducted so close to the holiday, people will not be available to vote, especially when considering college students who will be away from their universities on winter break.

Not only are students registered at their universities, but when at home there is sometimes less incentive to get out and vote. When a similar situation occurred with scheduling in 2008, however, there was a record number of voting, nearing 360,000 votes counted in Iowa.