The 2016 presidential primary season may be expected to start even earlier than the last two, but the Republican party approved a plan today that would see the first primary now earlier than February 1, 2016 and a convention as early as June.
The Republican National Committee on Friday passed sweeping rule changes designed to tighten its control over the GOP presidential nominating process and provide the party's 2016 standard-bearer a leg up in the general election.
The new rules will increase the penalties against states that hold their primary or caucus date before the period designated by the RNC and will move the Republican convention from the late summer to early summer, allowing the eventual nominee more time to spend general election funds.
Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida will be the only states allowed to hold their nominating contests in February, with penalties for violating the rules stiffer than they were the last time around, when a number of states tried to schedule their primaries earlier than the votes in Iowa and New Hampshire. States that hold their contests between March 1 and March 14, 2016, will be required to award delegates proportionally, in an apparent attempt to prevent any one candidate from gaining too much momentum at the start of the March contests.
A specific date and host city for the 2016 convention wasn't selected at this RNC meeting.