Inaction on the part of the Utah Legislature to move back Utah's presidential primary date may prompt Iowa "to push up its own timetable just to keep its first-in-line status," introducing even more volatility into an election calendar that's already in turmoil.
The Utah contest would clearly be friendly ground for local favorites Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman. Josh Putnam, a North Carolina political scientist who closely tracks the primary calendar, notes that Republicans in Utah have some incentive to buck national party rules.
"They have a contested nomination race that might involve up to two favorite son candidates (Romney and Huntsman) and they, of course, have a state-funded option on February 7 at their disposal," Putnam wrote on his Frontloading HQ blog. "So while there is a tradition of caucuses -- early in the post-reform era -- and party-run primaries in the Beehive state, Republicans are now likely to ignore that given a state-sanctioned alternative, albeit at non-compliant time -- on the first Tuesday in February."