The 2016 presidential election calendar is starting to take shape. The upcoming 'season' will be much shorter than in 2012. No events will occur in January, and both parties will have a nominee by the end of July. In 2012, the Iowa caucuses took place in early January, and the conventions took place in late August and early September.
Republican rules for 2016 prohibit primaries and caucuses in January, with only 4 states allowed to hold February contests. March events that take place prior to the 15th must award delegates proportionately, while those thereafter can allocate as they see fit, although many are expected to use a winner-take-all approach. The net effect is that going early provides a state more visibility, but if the field remains crowded, it may be the states that wait that have the greatest impact in deciding the 2016 nominee.
Democratic rules require proportional allocation of delegates. In a less-competitive nominating race, as 2016 appears to be, this provides some delegate visibility for secondary candidates.
A few highlights on the calendar follow. Some of these dates are subject to change. A number of debates are scheduled prior to the first contests.
February: Iowans will caucus on February 1, followed by the New Hampshire primary on the 9th. A Nevada source has told us that their caucuses will be on the 20th, with the South Carolina primary on the 27th, although we have seen some other dates mentioned.
Early March: A southern regional primary is taking shape for March 1 with participating states expected to include Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. North Carolina may also join in, although they are a bit more tentative at this point. This structure may benefit more conservative hopefuls like Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee, while Texas could be critical to Senator Ted Cruz. About 10 other states will also hold contests during the first two weeks of the month.
March 15: The first date where winner-take-all delegate allocation will be allowed on the Republican side is expected to see contests in Florida, Illinois, Missouri and Ohio. Depending on how the early states shake out, Florida may prove pivotal to the future aspirations of home-state candidates Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. The prospects of Ohio governor John Kasich (expected to join the race July 21), may hinge on whether he can keep his campaign going through the generally more conservative earlier states.
Follow the Republican and Democratic primaries on 270toWin. Current info includes national polls, with links to state-specific polling where it is available. As more information becomes available, we'll add a full calendar with delegate information and, as the events take place, results.
The 2016 presidential election will take place on November 8, 2016.