The nominating calendar now has a month-long dead zone that could kill the front-runner's momentum
When Florida last week scheduled its 2012 primary for Jan. 31, it pushed the Republican presidential primary nominating calendar into early January. The Iowa caucuses now stand to be held shortly after New Year's, possibly even earlier.
But there's another, less heralded effect to this change: a month-long gap between the early states and Super Tuesday.
In a nominating process that typically hinges on a domino effect of momentum that builds to give one candidate a prohibitive advantage, there's now a missing domino.
The effect on the race for the Republican nomination could be major. It means that even if one candidate accomplishes a clean sweep of the early states -- Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina and now Florida -- that will be followed not by a flood of simultaneous primaries that seal the nomination, but rather a momentum-killing dead zone that gives challengers time to rearm.
Assuming those five states have all voted by Jan. 31, they'll be followed by a February that's virtually devoid of primaries.
There are caucuses in Colorado, Maine and Minnesota on Feb. 7 -- and then nothing until Feb. 28, when Arizona and Michigan are scheduled to hold primaries. Super Tuesday, when 12 states are scheduled to vote, isn't until March 6.