Looks like the GOP's southern state base wants the deciding word on who will be the Republican nominee in 2016, and they're changing the primary game in order to do it.
Officials in five Southern states — Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas — are coordinating to hold their primary on March 1, 2016. Texas and Florida are considering also holding a primary the same day but may wait until later in the month. Either way, March 1 would be a Southern Super Tuesday, voting en masse on the heels of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.
The joint primary, which appears increasingly likely to happen, would present a crucial early test for Republican White House hopefuls among the party’s most conservative voters. It could, in theory, boost a conservative alternative to a Republican who has emerged as the establishment favorite from the four states that kick off the nominating process. But one risk is that the deep-red complexion of the Southern states’ primary electorates would empower a candidate who can’t win in general election battlegrounds like Ohio and Colorado.
Republicans from the South say their states make up the heart of the GOP and that it’s only fitting the region should have commensurate say over whom the party puts forward to compete for the White House. Proponents are already dubbing March 1 the “SEC primary,” after the NCAA’s powerhouse Southeastern Conference.
Especially if Texas and Florida join this little party, it's entirely possible that the GOP will have a presumptive nominee by St. Patrick's Day in 2016. That makes me think more than ever that we'll get a far-right Tea Party nutter out of the GOP in sixteen months, although it could mean Jeb Bush's Florida and Texas connections could vault him into the lead.
Either way, it looks like the Republicans aren't going to repeat their mistake of too many debates and late primaries. They want a nominee early so they can stop fighting amongst themselves and start attacking Hillary.