Iowa Republicans have scheduled the party’s presidential nominating caucuses for Jan. 15, 2024, putting the first votes of the next election a little more than six months away.
The Iowa Republican Party’s state central committee voted unanimously Saturday to hold the leadoff contests on the third Monday in January — on the Martin Luther King Jr. Day federal holiday.
Though Republican presidential candidates have been campaigning in Iowa since last winter, there has been some uncertainty about when the traditional leadoff contests would be held. That is partly due to the Democratic National Committee’s reshuffling of its calendar and dropping Iowa as its first contest.
The GOP date is earlier by several weeks than the past three Iowa caucuses, though not as early as 2008, when they were held just three days into the new year.
Caucuses, unlike primary elections, are contests planned, financed and carried out by the parties, not state election officials. The Iowa announcement Saturday allows New Hampshire, which has not set a primary election date yet, to protect its first-in-the-nation status, which is codified in state law that requires that contest be held at least seven days ahead of any other primary.
Last month, South Carolina Republicans adopted Feb. 24 as the date for the traditional first Southern primary, leaving plenty of time for Nevada to schedule its Republican caucuses without crowding New Hampshire.
“We remain committed to maintaining Iowa’s cherished first-in-the-nation caucuses, and look forward to holding a historic caucus in the coming months and defeating Joe Biden come November 2024,” Iowa Republican Party Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said in a statement.
Saturday’s decision could have implications for both parties because Iowa Democrats had been waiting on the state’s Republican Party to set its caucus date as they try to adjust to new DNC rules on the order of the 2024 presidential primary.
Iowa Democrats have proposed holding a caucus on the same day as the state’s Republicans and allowing participants to vote for president via mail-in ballot. But Iowa Democrats have said they may not immediately release the results.
That could allow the state party to still hold the first-in-the-nation caucus without defying a new primary calendar endorsed by President Joe Biden and approved by the DNC that calls for South Carolina to replace Iowa in the leadoff spot and kick off primary voting on Feb. 3.