Under fire again, will Iowa caucuses remain first?

In an interview with RCP on Tuesday, RNC General Counsel John Ryder declined to prejudge the outcome of this process. But while he acknowledged that there has long been “a certain level of discontent” toward the carve-out states in general, and Iowa in particular, Ryder was quick to acknowledge the reasons why they have been allowed to retain their advantageous positions.

“We’re well aware of the winnowing out process that is performed very ably by Iowa and New Hampshire,” he said. “The goal is not to please any particular segment of the electorate but rather to adopt a process that gives us the best chance of having a successful nominee.”

According to the Republican Party’s own statutes, RNC rules take precedence over state party rules and state laws. But that fact has not stopped states from ignoring RNC rules in the past.

Even if either national party did attempt to alter Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status, the Iowa Democratic and Republican parties almost certainly would move to jump ahead of any other state that attempted to undo the existing system, daring the national parties to punish them in the months leading up to the conventions.

But a nuclear option of that kind is highly unlikely. The RNC, in particular, has appeared to accept Iowa’s special status and is working to improve the caucuses rather than moving to eliminate them.