Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Update: 2016 Presidential Primary Calendar (8/26/14)

With Arizona moving its presidential primary back and back into compliance with the national party rules, there is one less threat to the ideal primary calendars under which the DNC and RNC would like to operate.

FHQ spent a great deal of time in 2011 talking about a couple of factors. One was the fact that Arizona, Florida and Michigan (among others) should never have been surprises to anyone. After 2008 but before 2012 none of those states made legislative moves that changed anything about the threats they represented to the 2012 presidential primary calendar. The other was that, after 2008, there were around 20 states that had to change state laws (or party bylaws) to comply with the parties' desire for a later start (read: February) to primary season. Most of those states complied. Some even shifted to dates later than the earliest date the national parties allowed non-carve-out states to hold their delegate selection events (March 6 in 2012).

Arizona, Florida, Michigan and a handful of other states did not. That meant that there was work to do from the national parties' perspective ahead of the 2016 cycle. Florida moved back from the brink in 2013 and Arizona and Missouri have already done so in 2014, inching the calendar closer to the national parties' ideal point.

However, there is still some more inching to do as we begin the slow march toward 2015, when many of these decisions will be made (or not made) at the state legislative level. Michigan is still a problem and North Carolina became one in 2013. And who knows which state may represent the next Utah and add to the threats? It may be Utah. Now that the national parties have set their rules the baton passes to the states. It is their point in the sequential process to decided to move back and comply, stand pat in compliance or defiance or move up and defy the those national party delegate selection rules.

Things are far from clear with a lot left to be decided in 2015, but for now, at this brief moment in time, the national parties are in good shape and seemingly headed in the direction of a later start to primary season.

Of course there is a long way to go before the calendar is set for 2016. And the next move is the states, no the national parties.

Latest update: 8/26/14 (Arizona moved on the calendar)

The 2016 presidential primary calendar can also always be found at its permanent home here.

Reading the Map:
As was the case with the maps from past cycles, the earlier a contest is scheduled in 2012, the darker the color in which the state is shaded. Michigan, for instance, is a much deeper shade of blue in February than California is in June. There are, however, some differences between the earlier maps and the one that appears above.
  1. Several caucus states have yet to select a date for the first step of their delegate selection processes in 2016. Until a decision is made by state parties in those states, they will appear in gray on the map.
  2. The states where legislation to move the presidential primary is active are two-toned with wide, diagonal stripes. One color indicates the timing of the primary according to the current law whereas the second color is meant to highlight the month to which the primary could be moved. For example, a bill currently being considered in Massachusetts would move the presidential primary from its current position in March to a new spot on the calendar in June. 
  3. Other states -- the carve-out states and states with state laws providing guidance for setting a primary or caucuses date but no specific date or multiple specified dates -- are also two-toned with narrow, horizontal stripes. In this case, one color (gray) represents the uncertainty of the primary or caucuses date now while the other color (or colors) highlight the options available to states or the most likely date for a contest in that state given the information we currently have. So, in Iowa, for instance, we know that the state parties in the Hawkeye state will want to protect the first in the nation status they have enjoyed in the past. To maintain that position alone, Iowa could now conduct its precinct caucuses as late as January 18, 2016. In a state like Utah, the primary itself is dependent on the state legislature allocating funds for that purpose. Should legislators in the Beehive state follow through on that action for 2016, the primary would be in early February. That explains the color in both instances. 
  4. States that are bisected vertically are states where the state parties have different dates for their caucuses and/or primaries. The left hand section is shaded to reflect the state Democratic Party's scheduling while the right is for the state Republican Party's decision on the timing of its delegate selection event (see Nebraska). This holds true for states -- typically caucus states -- with a history of different dates across parties but which also have not yet chosen a contest date.
Reading the calendar:
  1. Note that if you click on the state name in the calendar below, the link will take you to the relevant section of the state's law or party's bylaws covering the date of the primary or caucus.
  2. Links to discussions of 2013 or 2014 state-level legislation addressing the dates of future presidential primaries have also been added (see 2013/2014 Legislation in the calendar).
  3. Markers have also been added indicating whether legislation has become law or has died at some point in the legislative process. 

2016 Presidential Primary Calendar

Monday, January 18:
Iowa caucuses1 (***tentative given current information***)

Tuesday, January 26: 
New Hampshire (***tentative given current information***)

Tuesday, February 2:
    (2013 Legislation: Primary funding -- Signed into Law)
    (2014 Legislation: Primary before Iowa/New Hampshire -- Died in state Senate)

Saturday, February 6:
Nevada caucuses (***tentative given current information***)

Saturday, February 13:
South Carolina (***tentative given current information***)

Tuesday, February 16: 
North Carolina (***tentative given current information***)

Tuesday, February 23:
Tuesday, March 1:
    (2013 Legislation: March primary -- Died in CommitteePrimary on first unpenalized date --
    Signed into Law)
    (2013 legislation: June primary)
    (2013 Legislation: Saturday primaryFebruary primary -- all Died in Committee)

Saturday, March 5:
    (2014 legislation: earlier March primary -- Signed into Law)

Tuesday, March 8:

Tuesday, March 15:
    (2013 Legislation: March primary: House/SenateApril primary -- all Died in Committee)
    (2014 Legislation: March primary: House/Senate -- Senate committee substitute Signed into  

Tuesday, March 22:
    (2013 Legislation: Fix primary date to date of Iowa caucuses)
    (2014 Legislation: move the primary to the Tuesday after March 15 -- Signed into Law)

Tuesday, April 5:
Washington, DC 
    (2013 Legislation: June primary)

Tuesday, April 26:

Tuesday, May 3:

Tuesday, May 10:

Tuesday, May 17:

Tuesday, May 24:

Tuesday, June 7:
    (2013 Legislation: May primary -- Died in Committee)

Tuesday, June 28:

Primary states with no specified date:
    (2013 Legislation: establish primary -- Died in Committee)
    (2013 Legislation: January primary -- Died in Committee)
New Hampshire
South Carolina

1 This date does conflict with the Martin Luther King Day holiday in 2016. As John Deeth points out in the comments section that is an issue that was a source of some discontent among Iowa Democrats when the caucuses and holiday overlapped in 2004. If that is an issue again in 2016, it may affect the date of the caucuses above. Moving it up further would perhaps push the envelope a bit too much, but the state parties may opt to hold the caucuses on a Tuesday -- a week before New Hampshire on January 19 -- as they did in 2012. 
2 The state parties have the option of choosing either the first Tuesday in March date called for in the statute or moving up to the first Tuesday in February.
3 The state parties must agree on a date on which to hold caucuses by March 1 in the year prior to a presidential election. If no agreement is reached, the caucuses are set for the first Tuesday in February.
4 The Western States Presidential Primary in Utah is scheduled for the first Tuesday in February, but the contest will only be held on that date if the state legislature decides to allocate funds for the primary.  If (and only if) there is no Western States Presidential Primary (i.e.: the legislature does not fund the February contest) will the fourth Tuesday in June primary for other offices be an option available to the Utah parties according to the state law.
5 Democratic-sponsored legislation would establish a specific date for the Florida presidential primary; the second Tuesday in March. 
6 See definition of "Spring primary" for clause dealing with the timing of the presidential primary.
7 Kansas has not held a presidential primary since 1992. Funds have not been appropriated by the legislature for the primary since that time. That said, there are laws in place providing for a presidential preference primary. Assuming funding, the Kansas secretary of state has the option of choosing a date -- on or before November 1 in the year preceding the presidential election -- that either coincides with at least 5 other states' delegate selection events or is on the first Tuesday in April or before.
8 A Republican-sponsored bill during the 2013 session of the Nevada legislature would create a consolidated primary (presidential primary together with state primaries) and move the contest from June to January.
9 The North Carolina primary is now scheduled for the Tuesday following the South Carolina primary if the South Carolina contest is prior to March 15. Given the protected status South Carolina enjoys with the national parties, a primary prior to March 15 is a certainty for both parties in the Palmetto state. The link to the North Carolina statute does not yet reflect the change made to the presidential primary law. Language laying out the parameters for the primary can be found in the bill (HB 589) signed into law last summer.


Recent Posts:
So, It Turns Out Arizona Has Actually Moved Its Presidential Primary Back on the Calendar

DNC Set to Finalize 2016 Rules at Atlanta Meeting

South Carolina Bill to Streamline Presidential Primary Funding Becomes Law

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