Updated Republican Primary Schedule

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…

The March 1 States (AKA Super Tuesday) (AKA the SEC Primary)

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.

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23 thoughts on “Updated Republican Primary Schedule

  1. […] In the coming days, our focus will be in Iowa, as it should be. Its caucuses are only five days away. Tomorrow, if I can find the time and will, I hope to tackle the Iowa debate and Trump’s infuriating decision to skip it. But before jumping into the Hawkeye State with both feet, let’s take a final pre-February look at New Hampshire, whose primary is now less than two weeks away. […]

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