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Later Caucuses Allow Iowans to Enjoy Holidays

With the Iowa caucus coming a month later, some say this will allow people to enjoy their holidays. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Veterans of the Iowa caucuses say having the contest a month later than the past few will allow them to enjoy their Christmas season and that the date change could affect candidates' trajectories.  

The past three Iowa caucuses were held in January, with the 2008 and 2012 caucuses held two days after New Year's Day. But they're scheduled for February 1 this year.  

Ryan Frederick, chairman of the Adair County Republican Party, said as a result, people are ahead of schedule.  

"I've got my venue and I've got my materials and then I realize it's not for another four to five weeks," he said. "We're basically going to come back from the holidays in a week and it's going to go all the way to first of February."  

Scott Brennan, the former chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, said having the caucuses immediately after the holidays was difficult on  families.  

"The more organizing had to be conducted right around Christmas," Brennan said. "It's hard for people to focus on the caucus when they are trying to do other things."  

Brennan also said candidates are allowing their staff to enjoy the holiday and that in the past, holding the caucuses right after the holiday season could blunt a candidate's momentum.  

"If you get the buzz going you want to keep that buzz going," he said.  

Republican Rep. Steve King, said many people make their decisions during Thanksgiving and Christmas and that come January, there will be fewer undecided voters.  

"We get together with our families, we are more social," King said. "We talk with each other a lot more."  

Watters, who endorsed Hillary Clinton, said having the contest a month later will help the candidates with better ground games. Former New Hampshire State Senate Majority Leader Burt Cohen, who is backing Sen. Bernie Sanders, said he thinks the extra time will help his candidate.  

"I think people paying attention to what the issues are only helps," Cohen said. "Time helps the underdog."  

New Hampshire state Sen. David Watters, a Democrat backing Hillary Clinton, said in the past New Hampshire was usually in February.  

"It really was not good for the process," he said. "You don't get people's attentions until after Christmas."  

Frederick said while Sen. Ted Cruz has visited, as has former candidate Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, neither Sen. Marco Rubio, Ben Carson nor Donald Trump have not swung through.  

"We out here in the rural areas, don't see you until almost the end," to talk about rural issues, Frederick said.  

Cruz has seen a surge in Iowa polls, but he'll need to close the deal in January, King said.  

"That means he'll be on the ground in Iowa," he said, noting that many voters in Iowa will get a chance to meet candidates, noting that ahead of the 2008 caucus, King tried convincing a woman to support his candidate, only to be told she would not support a candidate she had not met yet.  

But King also said it is important to remember that shortly after Iowa comes the New Hampshire primary and the South Carolina contest.  

"I wouldn't say spend all your time in Iowa," he said. "You've got to find that balance."

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