DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa Republican Party on Tuesday moved the date of its caucuses, the nation's first presidential nominating contest, to Jan. 3 in response to moves by other states to schedule early contests.

Iowa's caucuses tentatively had been scheduled for Jan. 14 for both parties.

The announcement that Republicans would move their caucuses 11 days earlier than previously planned came after the state central committee, two national committee members and the party chairman approved the date in a telephone conference call.

Democrats have yet to set a caucus date, but are believed to be considering Jan. 3 or Jan. 5. If they choose the later date, it would mean the first split caucuses since the 1970s.

Two states, Michigan and Florida, have scheduled early primary contests in an attempt to challenge Iowa's status as the leadoff state.