The Primary Date

With another debate under our belts, I’ve been wondering what will be the schedule of the 2012 Republican Presidential primaries.  Regardless of their vote totals, states are typically rated in importance according to how early they vote in the process.  Each early victory builds momentum for the candidates and most campaigns dissolve after the first several contests.  That’s why so many people pay attention to the relatively small states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

Four years ago, Virginia was pretty late in the process.  Unfortunately, that meant that not many folks paid attention to the state.  By February 12th, there were only three candidates left in a race shrunk from an earlier field of eight.  This time around, it should be different.  Currently Virginia holds a spot of prominence, as it is a part of the Super Tuesday primaries on March 6th.  Hopefully, that means that both candidates and campaigns will take an effort to educate and impress the citizens of the Old Dominion State.

Getting back to the larger picture at hand, last week I called the RNC asking for a schedule of the 2012 Republican Presidential primaries and caucuses.  It seems that didn’t have much information and therefore recommended contacting the Republican Parties of each state for information.  So, I did; here are the results I have thus far.  Please note that all dates are subject to change.  This list is not complete and I plan to add more information as it becomes available.

Unofficial Dates for Primaries, Caucuses, and Conventions for the 2012 Republican Presidential Contest

Feb 6: Iowa

Feb 14: New Hampshire

Feb 18: Nevada

Feb 28: South Carolina, Michigan (tentative)

The latter half of Feb: Maine (dates vary by county)

Mar 3: Washington

Mar 6: Super Tuesday Virginia, Vermont, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Alaska, Texas, Idaho, Massachusetts

Mar 6-10: Wyoming (by county.  Statewide event to follow on Mar 14)

Mar 10: Kansas

Mar 13: Alabama

Mar 20: Illinois

Mar 24: Louisiana

Apr 3: Maryland

Apr 14: Colorado

Apr 24: New York, Delaware, Connecticut (tentative), Rhode Island

May 8: West Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana

May 14: Nebraska

May 22: Kentucky, Arkansas

Jun 5: California, Montana, New Mexico

Jun 26: Utah

6 Replies to “The Primary Date”

  1. Quite true. Unfortunately, they didn’t have a specific date when I called them which is why they didn’t make the list yet.

  2. Joshua

    This is a topic that is very important. The last primary left me very frustrated because the candidate that I wanted to vote for originally had already dropped out of the race. I voted for a guy that was way down my original list. (Not McCain by the way). Thanks for posting this. I wish I had more time to investigate these types of issues. Maybe if you have the time and knowledge you could blog on the reasons the current primary process is the way it is?

    Personally I feel they should all be schedule on the same day, say in February or March. I think we would get a truer picture of we really want, at that point if their is not a clear majority winner then a run off could be held. I am thinking this maybe an states rights issue with each state setting its own date? If it was held all on the same date or a few days of each other then perhaps all 50 states would have a more equal say in the final candidate, maybe?

    Remember freedom is not free. When good men do nothing evil men prevail.


    1. You are quite right Glenn, which is why states keep moving up their primaries in the year to try to improve their importance. If you live in Utah, chances are the contest will be decided long before your primary. Therefore, no campaign will “waste” time worrying about what you think.

      I’m not quite sure how to improve the situation. Your single day primary is an interesting proposal, but I’m sure states like New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina will fight against it for it would greatly reduce their clout. It would also increase the cost of running as then each campaign would need to operate a state effort everywhere as opposed to a handful. At that point, funding alone may decide the election.

  3. A great deal of this is still way, way up in the air. Florida is creating alot of confusion by having not yet set a date. Four states (Nevada, South Carolina, Iowa and New Hampshire) are allowed to go before everyone else–in the RNC’s eyes, that would be sometime in February. However, state laws in those states require them to go before other places by different lengths (NH law requires a weeklong buffer both before AND after their primary), so if Florida holds firm to Jan 31st (where it was last time), we could possibly be looking at a December start date. If this sort of thing intrigues you, I strongly suggest subscribing to the Frontloading HQ blog and in particular bookmarking this page:

    Another interesting wrinkle for Virginia: A new RNC rule requires that any state going before April 1 allot its delegates via proportional allotment, not winner takes all. However, currently the Commonwealth, while having a law setting out that primaries are to be WTA UNLESS the national parties have a rule stating otherwise, does not state what the threshold is for allotment (i.e. does one have to get 20% of the vote before they get any delegates? Or 15? Or do you get factored in with ANY amount?) Right now PA, OH, CA and NY, all states that I think you’d agree could “seal the deal” for any candidate, are scheduled after April 1, meaning they could be winner takes all (though I’d have to look at their state laws to be sure). The “middle” part of the calendar contains alot of small to medium sized states–Texas is really the only “mega” state in the mix. If that continues to be the case (and there’s only a few states that are not part of the “First Four” left with the option to change their date), we could see two or three candidates making it through February if there is a group of candidates that consistently rank in the top three in each state, as no one will truly have a lead. Add onto this that in most caucus states the outcome on caucus night is meaningless, particularly in Iowa where delegates are not bound to support their candidate at the next level and indeed, don’t even really have to “run” as a pledged delegate, then you could see this going way longer than expected.

    COULD being the operative word. I imagine something will come up that makes this all neat and tidy…..but its fun to pretend.

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