The Republican Primary Calendar

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.
  • Sorry.
  • 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.
Date State/territory Delegates
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
TBA North Dakota 28
TBA Colorado 37
TBA Idaho 32
TBA Washington 44
TBA American Samoa 9
TBA Guam 9
TBA Northern Marianas 9
TBA Virgin Islands 9

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!

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16 thoughts on “The Republican Primary Calendar

  1. […] Clearly,February 9‘s New Hampshire results will be a fascinating night. The state’s voters will do the weeding for the rest of the nation. Realistically, only one of these candidates will survive it — maybe two, if it’s close — so not only are we watching to see if Trump wins it or how Iowa affects Cruz in New Hampshire, but we’re seeing which of these guys can make a run at that top tier, perhaps pass Rubio, and survive into Super Tuesday. Like the NFL today, it’ll be like scoreboard watching on the last day of the regular season, and I can’t wait. […]

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