We’re down to 100 days until the start of the Republican and Democratic contests, which start on February 1 with the Iowa caucuses. By 100 days after that, barring an unusually long fight, we should have our nominees. (With the exception of the 2008 Democratic Primary, every primary of the last 20 years was settled by the middle of May.) I’m still holding out hope for a brokered convention (which deserves a post of its own soon), but recent history suggests that’s unlikely.
Either to the right (if you’re on a computer) or below (mobile site) is the Republican Primary schedule. (I’ll post the Democratic schedule later.) The 100-day mark takes us through the May 10 primaries. Even though the biggest prize of them all — California — occurs after that mark, we can expect California to merely sustain what the other contests have determined. In the off-but-oh-so-delicious-chance that California is relevant, it would be a primary for the ages. It could well determine who the nominee of the party is.
Some other facts about primary season and delegate allocation:
- In total, there are 2,470 delegates at the Republican National Convention, of which 2,302 are awarded through the primaries and caucuses themselves. (The rest — 168 — are “party leaders.”)
- To earn the nomination, a candidate will need to secure a simple majority of the 2,470, meaning 1,236 of them.
- Number of delegates per state is partially determined by population. More specifically, for every Congressional district a state has (or, in other words, for every member in the U.S. House of Representatives a state has), it gets three delegates. All states then get five delegates per senator, so there’s ten more. Thus, even a sparsely populated state like Wyoming starts with at least 13 delegates (1 Congressional district, 2 senators). These rules disproportionately hurt U.S. territories that have no Congressional districts or senators, like Guam, American Samoa, and the Virgin Islands, which is too bad because the Virgin Islands are already embarrassed enough.
- Every state and territory also has 3 “party leaders” that get to vote. There are 56 states and territories, which gives us the 168 party leaders mentioned in the first bullet.
- But then “bonus delegates” are awarded to states based on its voting trends. If a state voted for the GOP’s presidential candidate in 2012, for example, they get bonus delegates based on the state’s size. Same goes if they elected a Republican governor, if a majority of their U.S. Congressmen are Republican, if they elected a U.S. Senator (up to 2 bonus delegates there), and a state earns a bonus delegate for each chamber of its state legislature that’s majority Republican.
- Here’s an example of all of the above in practice. Take Alabama. (Please!) Alabama’s equation is 10 (2 Senators) + 21 (7 House districts) + 3 (party leaders) + 10 (voted for Romney) + 1 (Republican governor) + 2 (2 Republican U.S. Senators) + 1 (majority of U.S. House members are Republican) + 2 (both chambers of its legislature are controlled by Republicans).
- 10 + 21 + 3 + 16 “Bonus Delegates” = 50 delegates from Alabama.
- I’ve lost you, haven’t I.
- For the most party, contests held before April 1 must award delegates proportionally — meaning if three candidates earn sizable support, they will each earn delegates relative to how much support they received. Starting with the contests on April 1, states can choose to award their delegates via the winner-take-all system.
- Again, I’m really sorry about all this.
- Still, every state can have their quirky rules about allocating delegates. Click here for a state-by-state breakdown.
|February 1, 2016||Iowa||30|
|February 9, 2016||New Hampshire||23|
|February 20, 2016||South Carolina||50|
|February 23, 2016||Nevada||30|
|March 1, 2016||Alabama||50|
|March 1, 2016||Alaska||28|
|March 1, 2016||Arkansas||40|
|March 1, 2016||Georgia||76|
|March 1, 2016||Massachusetts||42|
|March 1, 2016||Minnesota||38|
|March 1, 2016||Oklahoma||43|
|March 1, 2016||Tennessee||58|
|March 1, 2016||Texas||155|
|March 1, 2016||Vermont||16|
|March 1, 2016||Virginia||49|
|March 1, 2016||Wyoming||29|
|March 5, 2016||Maine||23|
|March 5, 2016||Kansas||40|
|March 5, 2016||Kentucky||45|
|March 5, 2016||Louisiana||46|
|March 8, 2016||Hawaii||19|
|March 8, 2016||Mississippi||39|
|March 8, 2016||Michigan||59|
|March 13, 2016||Puerto Rico||23|
|March 15, 2016||Ohio||66|
|March 15, 2016||Florida||99|
|March 15, 2016||Illinois||69|
|March 15, 2016||Missouri||52|
|March 15, 2016||North Carolina||72|
|March 22, 2016||Arizona||58|
|March 22, 2016||Utah||40|
|April 5, 2016||Wisconsin||42|
|April 19, 2016||New York||95|
|April 26, 2016||Connecticut||28|
|April 26, 2016||Delaware||16|
|April 26, 2016||Maryland||38|
|April 26, 2016||Pennsylvania||71|
|April 26, 2016||Rhode Island||19|
|May 3, 2016||Indiana||57|
|May 10, 2016||Nebraska||36|
|May 10, 2016||West Virginia||34|
|May 17, 2016||Oregon||28|
|June 7, 2016||California||172|
|June 7, 2016||Montana||27|
|June 7, 2016||New Jersey||51|
|June 7, 2016||New Mexico||24|
|June 7, 2016||South Dakota||29|
|June 14, 2016||District of Columbia||19|
To bring us full circle, by the May 10 primaries, all but 527 of the 2,302 elected delegates will be chosen, and that’s if all the “TBA” contests are held after May 10, which is unlikely. We can probably ballpark that about 2,000 delegates will be elected by May 10. That should get us a presumptive GOP nominee. If it doesn’t, it’s either up to California, or we’re headed to a brokered convention! (Pleasepleaseplease)
Let the 100-day countdown begin!
16 thoughts on “The Republican Primary Calendar”
I can’t wait for you’re breakdown of how the Democratic delegation system works
I wish there were a way I could do it without using the “S” word. I don’t want to say it here. Let’s just say it rhymes with mooperdelegates.
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