This weekend, the Republican National Committee adopted a rule providing for a 2012 Delegate Selection calendar which mirrors the proposed DNC rule. See Steele Memorandum. Specifically, RNC Rule 15 allows for February dates for NH, IA, SC, and NV, with other states to hold contests after the second Tuesday in March. The RNC rule is contingent on the DNC adopting the same schedule, and assuming it does so at its upcoming August meeting, the stage is set for moving back – and spreading out – the 2012 primary process. Neither the DNC nor the RNC, of course, actually control contest dates – state parties, and more importantly state governments, typically fix primary dates. But the parties now have an opportunity to work together with the state governments to move back the contest dates of about 30 states.
The RNC Rules change also provides for proportional representation for March primaries only – this may also draw out the process. (The DNC has required proportional representation for all contests for years). The proposal actually received only 103 of 144 votes, barely reaching the required 2/3 majority. Some Republicans apparently were concerned that a more drawn out process would put them at a disadvantage because Democrats would quickly unite around President Obama. Maybe, but the Democrats’ drawn out 2008 process didn’t hurt them. You can speculate about short term effects on different candidates, but a process that gets fully underway in March and allows more states to participate meaningfully is good public policy.