Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida and…
A double-barreled set of early Southern primaries, the Carolina contests, could open the 2016 presidential nominating season, under an elections law that North Carolina has enacted.
The law requires North Carolina to hold is presidential preference primary the first Tuesday after South Carolina votes, provided that is before March 15, 2016. Presuming that the Palmetto State votes early to hold its place in the line of the highest-influence early-voting states, that will push North Carolina forward from its early-May position.
This is the same law requiring photo identifications for anyone voting in person.
Mitt Romney was the runaway winner of North Carolina’s May 8, 2012 primary, but that was well after he had solidified his lead in a dwindling field of candidates. Only Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul remained on that ballot with him.
An early North Carolina primary offers the 2016 field — with both Republican and Democratic contests this time — an early second opinion on the first Southern vote of the season.