The 2016 Presidential Primary Calendar

Latest update: 1/28/15 (Michigan primary legislation added to the calendar, reshaded on map)

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:
New York
    (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:
    (2014 Legislation: March primary -- Died at end of session)
    (2015 Legislation: March primary)

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

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

Tuesday, March 8:
    (2015 Legislation: March 1 primary: House/Senate)

Tuesday, March 15:
    (2013 Legislation: June primary -- Died in Committee)
    (2015 Legislation: June primary)
    (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 -- Died at end of session)
    (2014 Legislation: move the primary to the Tuesday after March 15 -- Signed into Law)
    (2015 Legislation: Fix primary date to date of Iowa caucuses)

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

Tuesday, April 26:

Tuesday, May 3:

Tuesday, May 10:

Tuesday, May 17:
    (2015 Legislation: separate presidential, other primaries)

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
    (2012 Legislation: codify first in the South status -- Died in Committee)
    (2014 Legislation: Primary funding -- Signed into Law)

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 See definition of "Spring primary" for clause dealing with the timing of the presidential primary. 
6 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.
7 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.
8 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 in summer 2013.

Update Chronology:
1/28/15 (Legislation moving the Michigan primary from February to March added to calendar and map.)
1/27/15 (Illinois bill moving the primary from the third Tuesday in March to the fourth Tuesday in June added to the calendar, reshaded on the map.)
1/23/15 (Connecticut bills for first Thursday in March Republican primary and March 1 primary added to calendar, reshaded on the map.)
1/22/15 (Mississippi legislation moving the presidential primary up one week to March added to the calendar)
1/20/15 (Arizona legislation anchoring presidential primary to Iowa added to the calendar and state reshaded on the map. Also proposed 2013 legislation from Illinois -- moving presidential primary to June -- added to calendar. Bill died in committee at the end of the 2014 state legislative session.)
1/8/15 (Changes made to the calendar and map to account for the end of 2014 legislative sessions. Michigan and Massachusetts primary bills expired at the adjournment of legislative sessions.)
12/13/14 (Legislation moving the Michigan primary from February to March added to calendar and map.)
9/12/14 (New York shifted up on the calendar to reflect sunset provision in 2011 law that expired at the end of 2012. The entire 2011 bill -- including setting the presidential primary date for April 24, 2012 -- was repealed at that time.)
8/26/14 (Arizona moved on the calendar after amended House bill was signed, shifting the primary from the fourth Tuesday in February to the Tuesday after March 15 in a presidential election year. The change officially occurred on April 16, 2014 when Governor Brewer signed the legislation into law.)
6/19/14 (Louisiana moved on the calendar after House bill moving primary from third Saturday after the first Tuesday in March to the first Saturday in March signed into law.)
6/4/14 (Missouri moved on the calendar and reshaded on the map after Senate bill signed into law. Law now calls for primary to be held on second Tuesday after the first Monday in March.)
5/31/14 (Louisiana legislation added to the calendar. Bill would move primary to first Saturday of March.)
3/28/14 (Missouri reshaded on the map to reflect both Senate and House primary bills calling for move to March)
3/14/14 (Utah reshaded on the map to reflect first in the nation presidential primary bill dying in committee)
3/9/14 (Missouri [April presidential primary bill]; Utah [first in the nation presidential primary] bills added to calendar)
8/13/13 (North Carolina presidential primary law anchoring contest to South Carolina presidential primary date added to the calendar, reshaded on the map)
6/13/13 (DC June presidential primary bill added to calendar, reshaded on the map; Missouri reshaded on the map to reflect presidential primary bills dying at the conclusion of the legislative session, Nevada reshaded on the map to reflect January primary bill dying in committee)
3/13/13 (Montana May consolidated primary bill added to the calendar, reshaded on the map)
3/5/13 (Florida March presidential primary bill added to the calendar, reshaded on the map)
3/4/13 (Nevada January presidential primary bill added, reshaded on the map)
2/28/13 (Massachusetts June presidential primary bill added, reshaded on the map)
1/6/12 (2016 presidential primary calendar first posted)

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