Saturday, February 28, 2009

1996 Presidential Primary Calendar

January 11: Ohio Democratic caucuses
January 25: Hawaii Republican caucuses (through January 31)
January 27: Alaska Republican caucuses (through January 29)

February 6: Louisiana Republican caucuses (21 delegates)
February 12: Iowa caucuses (both parties)
February 20: New Hampshire primary
February 24: Delaware primary
February 27: Arizona primary (Republicans only), North Dakota primary (Republicans only), South Dakota primary (Republicans only)

March: Virginia Republican caucuses
March 2: South Carolina primary (Republicans only -- party-run), Wyoming Republican caucuses
March 5: Colorado primary, Connecticut primary, Georgia primary, Idaho Democratic caucuses, Maine primary, Maryland primary, Massachusetts primary, Minnesota caucuses (both parties), Rhode Island primary, South Carolina Democratic caucuses, Vermont primary, Washington caucuses (both parties)
March 7: Missouri Democratic caucuses, New York primary
March 9: Alaska Democratic caucuses, Arizona Democratic caucuses, Missouri Republican caucuses, South Dakota Democratic caucuses
March 10: Nevada Democratic caucuses
March 12: Florida primary, Hawaii Democratic caucuses, Louisiana primary (both parties -- 9 GOP delegates), Mississippi primary, Oklahoma primary, Oregon primary, Tennessee primary, Texas primary (both parties and Democratic caucuses)
March 16: Michigan Democratic caucuses
March 19: Illinois primary, Michigan primary (Republicans only), Ohio primary (Republicans only), Wisconsin primary
March 23: Wyoming Democratic caucuses
March 25: Utah caucuses (both parties)
March 26: California primary, Nevada primary (Republicans only), Washington primary (Republicans only)
March 29: North Dakota Democratic caucuses

April 2: Kansas primary (canceled -- Republican State Committee chose delegates)
April 13: Virginia Democratic caucuses (and April 15)
April 23: Pennsylvania primary

May 7: Indiana primary, North Carolina primary
May 14: Nebraska primary, West Virginia primary
May 21: Arkansas primary
May 28: Idaho primary (Republicans only), Kentucky primary

June 4: Alabama primary, Montana primary (Democrats only, Republican beauty contest -- no delegates at stake), New Jersey primary, New Mexico primary
June 5: Montana Republican caucuses (through June 13)

[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 1996. The latter was used to double-check the dates or discover missing ones.]

A few notes:
1) 1996 is the turning point in the frontloading era, in my estimation. The impact of California's decision to pick up its belongings and move from June to March cannot be underestimated. All those delegates being decided upon three months earlier than usual change the calculus of the presidential nomination game for candidates and states alike. Every state following California was even more at risk of being meaningless than ever before.

2) From a numbers standpoint, there were 42 states that held primaries for at least one party in 1996. 29 of those states fell in either February or March. With the exceptions of Virginia, Kansas and Montana, all the contests after March were primaries. In other words, there had been some consolidation of caucus states in the earlier period and a bifurcation of primary states. Those primary states after March were all states that held their presidential primary concurrently with their primaries for state and local offices. Not all of the states that held concurrent primaries were late (see Maryland and Texas ), but each one of those late primaries fell into that category.

3) 1996 witnessed a couple of attempts at regional primaries. Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont (the Yankee Primary) all held their primaries on March 5. Illnois, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin (the Great Lake Primary) all held their contests on March 19. Plus, there was the remnants of the Southern Super Tuesday in 1988. Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas all went on March 12. The latter series of contests virtually sealed the deal for Bob Dole's ascendance to the GOP nomination, and before the race ever really got to the Midwest of the mini-Western primary (California, Nevada and Washington). So even though California moved, the Golden state still missed out on the action.

Recent Posts:
Like a Kid in a Candy Store: A 2012 GOP Presidential Preference Poll

2012 Primary Reform: Previous General Election Margin as a Means of Setting the Calendar

If You Were Indiana, What Would You Do in 2012? A View from Similar States

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