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South Carolina Primary Move Puts Election Calendar in Flux

South Carolina officially moved up its primary presidential election to Jan. 19 on Thursday. New Hampshire and Iowa may soon move their primaries even earlier to preserve their first-in-the-nation status. Political analysts discuss how these changes may affect the election.

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  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Today's move by South Carolina Republicans to advance their primary date from February 2nd to January 19th once again upended the presidential nominating schedule. Party chairman Katon Dawson said South Carolina's action was prompted by Florida's recent decision to advance its primary to January 29th, ahead of South Carolina's original date.

  • KATON DAWSON, Chair, South Carolina Republican Party:

    The process may be out of control, but right now we're playing the cards that are dealt to us. And South Carolina, we are firmly committed to be the first in the South primary, have a historical preference, like New Hampshire, and we've exercised that right today, and proudly so.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Dawson made his announcement in New Hampshire, alongside Secretary of State Bill Gardner, a signal, he said, that South Carolina had no intention of trying to leapfrog New Hampshire's traditional role as the first primary state in the nation.

    But South Carolina's move will have a domino effect. New Hampshire law requires that its primary be held at least seven days before any other state; that means the New Hampshire contest now must be January 12th at the latest. But it could be earlier than that if any other state tries to get ahead of South Carolina, as some are threatening to do. Gardner said today he'll wait until other states finalize their primary dates before he sets New Hampshire's.

    BILL GARDNER, Secretary of State, New Hampshire: I don't know when the New Hampshire primary is going to be, and I still don't know when we'll be able to answer that.