COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Republicans meeting in Missouri have retained South Carolina as the first Southern primary for the 2012 presidential race.
The South Carolina GOP said in a news release Friday the state likely will hold its primary in late February after the Iowa and New Hampshire contests - typically the first in the nation. Nevada also will be allowed to hold its primary in February.
States that award delegates on a proportional basis will be allowed to hold primaries in March and those in winner-take-all states will go in April.
Critics worried about extending the process when President Obama likely won't face a primary opponent in 2012. But advocates say the plan adds order to a chaotic process.
Since 1980, the winner of South Carolina's primary won the GOP nomination.