We now have just under two weeks to go before the Iowa caucuses. That’s a good a time as any to update the GOP’s Primary Calendar. I last posted it at the 100-day mark, but eight contests were still listed as “TBA.” Since then, however, those states and territories have chosen their dates, so I can now post a complete calendar. (I still recommend that original post if you’re wondering how delegation sizes were chosen for each state.) Remember, it’s a race to earn 1,237 of the 2,472 available delegates at the Republican National Convention.
Just so you don’t feel like you’re wasting your time with just a list of dates and U.S. territories, I’ll also break up the schedule into chunks with some commentary. And since I told you Donald Trump would never last and Hillary Clinton wouldn’t face much of a challenge, you know my commentary is as good as gold.
Let’s start with the obvious first chunk: the February states (pledged, unpledged, and total delegates in parentheses).
|February 1, 2016||Iowa||30 / 0 / 30|
|February 9, 2016||New Hampshire||23 / 0 / 23|
|February 20, 2016||South Carolina||50 / 0 / 50|
|February 23, 2016||Nevada||27 / 3 / 30|
I already lent my thoughts to these states, and the scenarios I laid out remain.
By the end of February, we’ll lose a majority of the remaining dozen candidates. Gilmore is irrelevant, Huckabee and Santorum will withdraw after Iowa, Fiorina and two or three of Kasich, Bush, and Christie will follow them after New Hampshire, and Carson will either withdraw after South Carolina or stay in for a few delegates in March. Trump and Cruz are the only ones certain to survive February, and Rubio should, too, barring another establishment candidate winning New Hampshire. Paul, like his father, is just annoying and proud enough to stay in until we have a presumptive nominee. Ultimately, we’ll be left with five or six candidates heading into…
|March 1, 2016||Alabama||47 / 3 / 50|
|March 1, 2016||Alaska||25 / 3 / 28|
|March 1, 2016||Arkansas||37 / 3 / 40|
|March 1, 2016||Colorado||34 / 3 / 37|
|March 1, 2016||Georgia||73 / 3 / 76|
|March 1, 2016||Massachusetts||39 / 3 / 42|
|March 1, 2016||Minnesota||35 / 3 / 38|
|March 1, 2016||North Dakota||25 / 3 / 28|
|March 1, 2016||Oklahoma||40 / 3 / 43|
|March 1, 2016||Tennessee||55 / 3 / 58|
|March 1, 2016||Texas||152 / 3 / 155|
|March 1, 2016||Vermont||16 / 0 / 16|
|March 1, 2016||Virginia||46 / 3 / 49|
|March 1, 2016||Wyoming||26 / 3 / 29|
Those 14 states combine for over 650 pledged delegates, more than half the required amount needed for the nomination. This day is nicknamed the SEC, or Southeastern Conference, primary because 453 of those 653 delegates, or nearly 70 percent, come from southern states. The mother lode of the day is Texas; its 155 delegates are second only to California’s 172 as the primary’s biggest prize. Its junior senator, Ted Cruz, will be poised for a big day, but he’ll need to make sure Trump hasn’t run away with it before then. On March 1, Rubio and perhaps one other establishment candidate will hope to stay alive through Cruz and Trump splitting support across their southern base.
After Super Tuesday, we get to the Next Eleven Days.
|March 5, 2016||Kansas||40 / 0 / 40|
|March 5, 2016||Kentucky||42 / 3 / 45|
|March 5, 2016||Louisiana||44 / 3 / 47|
|March 5, 2016||Maine||20 / 3 / 23|
|March 6, 2016||Puerto Rico||20 / 3 / 23|
|March 8, 2016||Hawaii||16 / 3 / 19|
|March 8, 2016||Idaho||29 / 3 / 32|
|March 8, 2016||Michigan||56 / 3 / 59|
|March 8, 2016||Mississippi||37 / 3 / 40|
|March 12, 2016||Guam||6 / 3 / 9|
|March 12, 2016||Washington, D.C.||16 / 3 / 19|
March 5 and 12, both Saturdays, bookend 11 contests (8 states, two territories, and a district) and 326 more pledged delegates. About half of them come from very conservative contests, but the transition away from dark red states toward purple and blue ones has begun. Remember, Republicans in blue states, typically a more moderate bunch than where Trump and Cruz rack up huge support, have disproportionate power over the Republican Primary. If Rubio or another establishment candidate can remain alive until this point, he’s in great shape heading into The Rest of March:
|March 15, 2016||Florida||99 / 0 / 99|
|March 15, 2016||Illinois||66 / 3 / 69|
|March 15, 2016||Missouri||49 / 3 / 52|
|March 15, 2016||North Carolina||72 / 0 / 72|
|March 15, 2016||Northern Mariana Islands||6 / 3 / 9|
|March 15, 2016||Ohio||63 / 3 / 66|
|March 19, 2016||Virgin Islands||6 / 3 / 9|
|March 22, 2016||American Samoa||6 / 3 / 9|
|March 22, 2016||Arizona||58 / 0 / 58|
|March 22, 2016||Utah||40 / 0 / 40|
That’s another heavy eight day stretch, this time with even more delegates: 465. It’s the purple part of the primary — note Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio as potential swing states.
Then come the April states. This is an important stretch as well. Before this point, states had to award their delegates proportionally. Starting on April 1, however, the RNC allows states to use a winner-take-all system. Again we have a way for a Rubio to make a comeback if he survives this long. Take a look at these blue April states:
|April 5, 2016||Wisconsin||42 / 0 / 42|
|April 19, 2016||New York||92 / 3 / 95|
|April 26, 2016||Connecticut||25 / 3 / 28|
|April 26, 2016||Delaware||16 / 0 / 16|
|April 26, 2016||Maryland||38 / 0 / 38|
|April 26, 2016||Pennsylvania||68 / 3 / 71|
|April 26, 2016||Rhode Island||16 / 3 / 19|
Five are dark blue and two lean that way. Three of these states are winner-take-all, and the rest makes it easy to rack up all the delegates were a candidate to clear 50 percent of the primary’s vote.
These are followed by the May states:
|May 3, 2016||Indiana||54 / 3 / 57|
|May 10, 2016||Nebraska||33 / 3 / 36|
|May 10, 2016||West Virginia||31 / 3 / 34|
|May 17, 2016||Oregon||25 / 3 / 28|
|May 24, 2016||Washington||41 / 3 / 44|
At 184 delegates, that’s a light month. If the primary is still close coming into it, it’ll be close going out.
After the Washington Primary, there’s actually only one more day of voting, but it’s a big one. The June 7 states:
|June 7, 2016||California||169 / 3 / 172|
|June 7, 2016||Montana||24 / 3 / 27|
|June 7, 2016||New Jersey||51 / 0 / 51|
|June 7, 2016||New Mexico||21 / 3 / 24|
|June 7, 2016||South Dakota||26 / 3 / 29|
This one day’s pledged delegate count — 291 — is 60 percent more than all of May’s combined. Of course, that’s mostly thanks to one state — the largest of the primary — California. If a Rubio blue state comeback has him gaining on Trump, I can see a big Rubio win in California putting him on top heading into the summer. If this day doesn’t decide the party’s nominee, however, we’re headed toward a brokered convention! (Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease)
Tomorrow, I’ll repeat this process with the Democratic Primary. See you then.