Saturday, February 28, 2009

1996 Presidential Primary Calendar

Thursday, January 11:
Ohio Democratic caucuses

Thursday, January 25:
Hawaii Republican caucuses (through January 31)

Saturday, January 27:
Alaska Republican caucuses (through January 29)

Tuesday, February 6:
Louisiana Republican caucuses (21 delegates)

Monday, February 12:
Iowa caucuses (both parties)

Tuesday, February 20:
New Hampshire primary

Saturday, February 24:
Delaware primary

Tuesday, February 27:
Arizona primary (Republicans only)
North Dakota primary (Republicans only)
South Dakota primary (Republicans only)

March: Virginia Republican caucuses

Saturday, March 2:
South Carolina primary (Republicans only -- party-run)
Wyoming Republican caucuses

Tuesday, March 5:
Colorado primary
Connecticut primary
Georgia primary
Idaho Democratic caucuses
Maine primary
Maryland primary
Massachusetts primary
Minnesota caucuses (both parties)
Rhode Island primary
South Carolina Democratic caucuses 
Vermont primary
Washington caucuses (both parties)

Thursday, March 7:
Missouri Democratic caucuses
New York primary

Saturday, March 9:
Alaska Democratic caucuses 
Arizona Democratic caucuses 
Missouri Republican caucuses 
South Dakota Democratic caucuses

Sunday, March 10:
Nevada Democratic caucuses

Tuesday, March 12:
Florida primary
Hawaii Democratic caucuses 
Louisiana primary (both parties -- 9 GOP delegates)
Mississippi primary
Oklahoma primary
Oregon primary
Tennessee primary
Texas primary (both parties and Democratic caucuses)

Saturday, March 16:
Michigan Democratic caucuses

Tuesday, March 19:
Illinois primary
Michigan primary (Republicans only)
Ohio primary (Republicans only)
Wisconsin primary

Saturday, March 23:
Wyoming Democratic caucuses

Monday, March 25:
Utah caucuses (both parties)

Tuesday, March 26:
California primary
Nevada primary (Republicans only)
Washington primary (Republicans only)

Friday, March 29:
North Dakota Democratic caucuses

Tuesday, April 2:
Kansas primary (canceled -- Republican State Committee chose delegates)

Saturday, April 13:
Virginia Democratic caucuses (and April 15)

Tuesday, April 23:
Pennsylvania primary

Tuesday, May 7:
Indiana primary
North Carolina primary
Washington, DC primary

Tuesday, May 14:
Nebraska primary
West Virginia primary

Tuesday, May 21:
Arkansas primary

Tuesday, May 28:
Idaho primary (Republicans only)
Kentucky primary

Tuesday, June 4:
Alabama primary
Montana primary (Democrats only, Republican beauty contest -- no delegates at stake)
New Jersey primary
New Mexico primary

Wednesday, June 5:
Montana Republican caucuses (through June 13)

[Primaries in bold; Caucuses in italics]

States that are split vertically had different dates for different party contests. The shade to the left of that line corresponds with the month in which the Democratic contest took place and the right side represents the Republican contest.

[Source: Congressional Quarterly and news accounts from 1996. The latter was used to double-check the dates or discover missing ones.]

A few notes:
1) 1996 is the turning point in the frontloading era, in my estimation. The impact of California's decision to pick up its belongings and move from June to March cannot be underestimated. All those delegates being decided upon three months earlier than usual change the calculus of the presidential nomination game for candidates and states alike. Every state following California was even more at risk of being meaningless than ever before.

2) From a numbers standpoint, there were 42 states that held primaries for at least one party in 1996. 29 of those states fell in either February or March. With the exceptions of Virginia, Kansas and Montana, all the contests after March were primaries. In other words, there had been some consolidation of caucus states in the earlier period and a bifurcation of primary states. Those primary states after March were all states that held their presidential primary concurrently with their primaries for state and local offices. Not all of the states that held concurrent primaries were late (see Maryland and Texas ), but each one of those late primaries fell into that category.

3) 1996 witnessed a couple of attempts at regional primaries. Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont (the Yankee Primary) all held their primaries on March 5. Illnois, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin (the Great Lake Primary) all held their contests on March 19. Plus, there was the remnants of the Southern Super Tuesday in 1988. Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas all went on March 12. The latter series of contests virtually sealed the deal for Bob Dole's ascendance to the GOP nomination, and before the race ever really got to the Midwest of the mini-Western primary (California, Nevada and Washington). So even though California moved, the Golden state still missed out on the action.

Recent Posts:
Like a Kid in a Candy Store: A 2012 GOP Presidential Preference Poll

2012 Primary Reform: Previous General Election Margin as a Means of Setting the Calendar

If You Were Indiana, What Would You Do in 2012? A View from Similar States

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