New Years In Des Moines: We'll Know By October 15

On Friday night, the Republican Party of Iowa's state central committee voted unanimously to recommend Thursday, January 3 as the date of their caucuses.

The committee authorized the party's executive director, Chuck Laudner, to lobby Democrats and urge them to accept the same date. If Laudner succeeds is getting the Democrats to agree, the two parties will announce the date together.

If, by Monday, October 15, Laudner fails, then he's authorized to announce the Jan. 3 date himself.

The beneficiary of the earliest possible caucus date is ex-MA Gov. Mitt Romney, whose aides believe that the (shortened) holiday season will freeze the field and prevent any other candidate from surging at the last minute. Romney's allies on the state central committee have been pushing for an early date for months, as soon as it became clear that New Hampshire might set its primary for Jan. 8 or thereabouts.

Republicans predict that the Democrats and the media will both fight for a two-date caucus, where the Dems vote on the 5th.

The likeliest, although by no means assured scenario at this point: the Democrats, after some internal wrangling, yield and agree to a January 3 caucus.

Either way, the Republican Party has decided: the third it is, meaning New Years in Des Moines for all the presidential candidates and their entourages.