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State Democrats, Republicans moving up caucus dates

Minnesota Democrats announced Tuesday they will join Republicans in moving their caucuses up to Feb. 5, when two dozen states are set to hold presidential preference contests.

Minnesota Democrats announced Tuesday they will join Republicans in moving their caucuses up to Feb. 5, when two dozen states are set to hold presidential preference contests.

In July, the state GOP decided to switch from the previous date for both parties' contests, making Minnesota part of a movement nationwide to accelerate the presidential nominating process.

Why the change?

Minnesota has held caucuses in March since 1991, but leaders of the two parties feared their respective nominees would be chosen well before then. State law designates the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March as the caucus date, although the parties say they don't believe they are bound by the statute.

What effect will it have?

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Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said the shift will touch off negotiations with schools and libraries to free up meeting space and to make sure they don't schedule classes or events that would hinder attendance.

What about other states?

Some states, such as Nevada, South Carolina, Florida and Michigan, have moved or are seeking to move their caucuses or primaries to January.

The rush to hold votes sooner has put pressure on Iowa and New Hampshire to adjust their political calendars in order to maintain their traditional status as the nation's earlybirds, raising the possibility that the Iowa caucuses could be held before New Year's.

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