Wednesday, February 11, 2009

1988 Presidential Primary Calendar

January 14: Michigan Republican caucus (middle step in delegate allocation -- process began in August 1986)

February 1: Kansas Republican caucuses (through February 7)
February 4: Hawaii Republican caucuses
February 8: Iowa caucuses (both parties)
February 9: Wyoming Republican caucuses (through February 24)
February 16: New Hampshire primary
February 18: Nevada Republican caucuses
February 23: Minnesota caucuses (both parties), South Dakota primary
February 26: Maine Republican caucuses (through February 28)
February 27: Alaska Republican caucuses (through March 1)
February 28: Maine Democratic caucuses

March 1: Vermont primary (beauty contest -- no delegates at stake)
March 5: South Carolina Republican primary (party-run), Wyoming Democratic caucuses
March 8: Alabama primary, Arkansas primary, Florida primary, Georgia primary, Hawaii Democratic caucuses, Idaho Democratic caucuses, Kentucky primary, Louisiana primary, Maryland primary, Massachusetts primary, Mississippi primary, Missouri primary, Nevada Democratic caucuses, North Carolina primary, Oklahoma primary, Rhode Island primary, Tennessee primary, Texas primary (Democratic primary-caucus), Virginia primary, Washington caucuses (both parties)
March 10: Alaska Democratic caucuses
March 12 South Carolina Democratic caucuses
March 15: Illinois primary
March 19: Kansas Democratic caucuses
March 26: Michigan Democratic caucuses
March 27: North Dakota Democratic caucuses
March 29: Connecticut primary

April 4: Colorado caucuses (both parties)
April 5: Delaware Republican caucuses (through April 25), Wisconsin primary
April 16: Arizona Democratic caucuses
April 18: Delaware Democratic caucuses
April 19: New York primary, Vermont caucuses (both parties)
April 25: Utah caucuses (both parties)
April 26: Pennsylvania primary

May 3: Indiana primary, Ohio primary
May 10: Nebraska primary, West Virginia primary
May 14: Arizona Republican convention (end of multi-tiered caucus process which began in 1986)
May 17: Oregon primary
May 24: Idaho primary (Republicans only),

June 7: California primary, Montana primary, New Jersey primary, New Mexico primary
June 14: North Dakota primary (Republicans only)


[Primaries in bold]

States that are split vertically had different dates for different party contests. The shade to the left of that line corresponds with the month in which the Democratic contest took place and the right side represents the Republican contest.

[Source: Congressional Quarterly and news accounts from 1988. The latter was used to double-check the dates or discover missing ones.]

A few notes:
1) Obviously, the Southern Super Tuesday fundamentally shifted the balance in terms of frontloading in 1988. Up to this point our simple metric has been examining the number of contests (primaries specifically) held in May and June. From 1976-1984, May and June combined represented the time when most presidential primaries were being held. That wasn't the case in 1988. First of all, there was a jump in the number of primaries (Several southern states made the switch from caucus to primary between 1984 and 1988.). And secondly, only eleven of those 35 primaries were in May and June. 19 of those primaries were in March alone -- 15 of which were on Super Tuesday (March 8). The center of gravity in the nomination calendar, then, shifted from May to March and wouldn't formally shift again until both parties allowed for February contests (2000 for the GOP and 2004 for the Democrats).

2) January contests were back in 1988. Iowa had camped out in late January in 1976 and 1980; joined by several other caucus states that were largely ignored by the candidates and the media. In 1984, however, Iowa dropped back into February when only the Democratic nomination was at stake. The Hawkeye state stayed in February in 1988, but saw Michigan's Republicans jump into January. Which brings us to...

3) Two states began the 1988 delegate selection process in 1986. [Take that Florida and Michigan in 2008!] This sounds like a major violation of party rules, but in actuality it wasn't. To that point, only the Democrats were using the "Window Rule" to define when a state could and could not hold its delegate selection event. In other words, if you look back at those January (and even February) contests outside of Iowa in 1976 and 1980, it is a group of Republican contests mainly (and caucuses at that). The same holds true in this case. In 1988 (or in 1986 more accurately), Arizona and Michigan both held the initial stages of their Republican delegate selection. The Democratic caucuses in both states were in April and March, respectively -- within the DNC's delegate selection rules. However, this shows that 2008 was not Michigan's first foray into challenging Iowa and New Hampshire's first in the nation status.


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