Primary Chaos

April in Paris. Autumn in New York.

New Year's in … Des Moines?

That's where the Republicans who want to be President will be singing "Auld Lang Syne."

The Iowa Republican Party is shifting its first-in-the-nation caucuses from January 14 ahead to January 3, which means that Iowa Republicans will be gathering in school lunchrooms, libraries, and living rooms while still recovering from New Year's revelry and the college football marathon.

And that could create a whole new holiday tradition.

"I think part of what it means is that Iowans are going to be having candidates over for Christmas as well as their families and friends," Iowa professor David Redlawsk told CBS News senior political correspondent Jeff Greenfield.

Why is this happening? Because Michigan - long frustrated over the massive attention given to Iowa and New Hampshire - decided to move its primary from February 26 all the way ahead to January 15, just one day after the scheduled Iowa caucuses.

The Democratic presidential candidates have all promised not to compete in Michigan. So, since the Democratic primary in Michigan will likely be meaningless, Iowa Democrats seem perfectly happy to keep their caucuses on January 14.

But the Republican candidates do intend to campaign in Michigan. And with that primary scheduled just one day after Iowa's caucuses, Iowa's Republicans want to create distance.

This new date could prove most troublesome for long-shot candidates who need time for their under-funded retail campaigns to connect with voters.

"For those long shot candidates they've got to push even harder during that holiday season and I think that's gonna be very very difficult for them," Redlawsk said.


Explore the up-to-date primary calendar
Couric & Co. Blog: New Year's In Des Moines?
Why are these shifts happening? If you took a map of he United States and redrew it to reflect the electoral clout of the states, it would look like a distorted mess, with the most populous states - California, Texas, Florida, New York - the biggest.

But measured by the attention paid by candidates and the media in the primaries, the map includes massive Iowa and New Hampshires, two of the least-populous states, dwarfing all of the others.

Why? Because they go first - and they are determined to keep it that way.

This new calendar - with two different days for the Iowa caucuses - only begins to hint at what could be called, "Primary Chaos."

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