Thursday, June 13, 2013

Update: 2016 Presidential Primary Calendar (6/13/13)

As there have been a handful of changes to state election law and a number of state legislative sessions have adjourned for 2013 -- killing legislation that could have impacted the 2016 presidential primary dates -- an update to the calendar is in order.

[Find the calendar's permanent home here. There is a link to the 2016 calendar in the upper left corner of the page as well.]

  • Florida has been moved to a March 1 primary date. Given the current state of the RNC rules -- no proportionality requirement; first Tuesday in March as the first unpenalized date -- and the changes to Florida's statute concerning the presidential primary in the Sunshine state -- primary held on first date in which there is no penalty -- March 1 is the date. However, should the proportionality requirement be reinstated -- something that is likely in the offing at some point -- then Florida would shift back to the first Tuesday in April according to the statute. 
  • Legislation in Maine, Missouri, Montana, Nevada and Texas that would have moved or established presidential primaries died. All have been reshaded on the map below.
You will note that none of the so-called carve-out states are included on the calendar. During the 2012 cycle, FHQ added those states to calendar as a means of reflecting the reality of the typical formation of the calendar. Namely, that those states will position their contests relative to and earlier than the date of the next earliest contest. Missouri is the next earliest contest, non-compliant though that contest may be. If that holds, then Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina (if not other states) will push once again into January. That (worst case scenario) is likely to look something like this:
  • Saturday, January 2: Iowa caucuses
  • Tuesday, January 5: New Hampshire primary
  • Saturday, January 16: Nevada caucuses
  • Saturday, January 23: South Carolina primary
There are a couple of other factors to note in the calculus that each of the above states will/could undergo.
  1. State law requires a seven day window after the New Hampshire primary. That eliminates January 12 as a possibility if Nevada falls on January 16.
  2. None of this prevents a scenario like the one that played out in late 2011 from happening again if the carve-out states are pushed up against the cusp of the new year. In other words, Iowa's parties could nab Monday, January 4 as the date of its caucuses and then force another stand-off between New Hampshire and Nevada. That could push Nevada to a later date and allow Secretary of State Bill Gardner the chance to claim January 12 for New Hampshire. The difference in 2016 is that the secretary will have to contend with both the Nevada Democratic and Republican parties; not just the Republicans. Of course, historically, Gardner remains undefeated in the game of keeping New Hampshire first. 
  3. There is a long wait for any of this to occur. None of this will go down until 2015.
The best case scenario at this point looks something like this:
  • Monday, January 25: Iowa caucuses
  • Tuesday, February 2: New Hampshire primary
  • Saturday, February 13: Nevada caucuses
  • Saturday, February 20: South Carolina primary
This assumes that Arizona and Michigan are the next earliest contests on February 23. 

Here is a snapshot of what things look like now (6/13/13):

Reading the Map:

As was the case with the maps from past cycles, the earlier a contest is scheduled in 2012, the darker the color in which the state is shaded. Arizona, for instance, is a much deeper shade of blue in February than California is in June. There are, however, some differences between the earlier maps and the one that appears above.
  1. Several caucus states have yet to select a date for the first step of their delegate selection processes in 2016. Until a decision is made by state parties in those states, they will appear in gray on the map.
  2. The states where legislation to move the presidential primary is active are two-toned. One color indicates the timing of the primary according to the current law whereas the second color is meant to highlight the month to which the primary could be moved. 
  3. States that are bisected vertically are states where the state parties have different dates for their caucuses and/or primaries. The left hand section is shaded to reflect the state Democratic Party's scheduling while the right is for the state Republican Party's decision on the timing of its delegate selection event (see Nebraska). This holds true for states -- typically caucus states -- with a history of different dates across parties but which also have not yet chosen a contest date.
Reading the calendar:
  1. Note that if you click on the state name in the calendar below, the link will take you to the relevant section of the state's law or party's bylaws covering the date of the primary or caucus.
  2. Links to discussions of 2013 state-level legislation addressing the dates of future presidential primaries have also been added (see 2013 Legislation in the calendar).
  3. Markers have also been added indicating whether legislation has become law or has died at some point in the legislative process. 

2016 Presidential Primary Calendar

Tuesday, February 2:
Missouri (2013 Legislation: March primary: House/SenateApril primary -- all Died in Committee)
Utah3 (2013 Legislation: Primary funding -- Signed into Law)

Tuesday, February 23:
Tuesday, March 1:
Florida4 (2013 Legislation: March primary -- Died in CommitteePrimary on first unpenalized date -- Signed into Law)
Massachusetts (2013 legislation: June primary)
Texas (2013 Legislation: Saturday primaryFebruary primary -- all Died in Committee)

Tuesday, March 8:

Tuesday, March 15:

Saturday, March 19:

Tuesday, April 5:
Washington, DC (2013 Legislation: June primary)

Tuesday, April 26:

Tuesday, May 3:

Tuesday, May 10:

Tuesday, May 17:

Tuesday, May 24:

Tuesday, June 7:
Montana (2013 Legislation: May primary -- Died in Committee)

Primary states with no specified date:
Maine (2013 Legislation: establish primary -- Died in Committee)
Nevada7 (2013 Legislation: January primary -- Died in Committee)
New Hampshire
New York
South Carolina

Without dwelling on something that is WELL before its time, FHQ should note that those February states are only problematic in 2016 if the two parties' delegates selection rules mirror the rules from the 2012 cycle. They may or may not. The real problem children, if you will, are the primary states without specified dates for 2016. As of June 2013 they remain the free agents for the 2016 primary calendar and the ones that may bear the most intense watching between now and mid-2015. That said, first things first: The first step is a set of rules from the DNC and RNC. We have a ways to go before the parties settle on/finalize something on that front (summer 2014). The Republican Party is further along in its process than are the Democrats.

1 The state parties have the option of choosing either the first Tuesday in March date called for in the statute or moving up to the first Tuesday in February.
2 The state parties must agree on a date on which to hold caucuses by March 1 in the year prior to a presidential election. If no agreement is reached, the caucuses are set for the first Tuesday in February.
3 The Western States Presidential Primary in Utah is scheduled for the first Tuesday in February, but the contest will only be held on that date if the state legislature decides to allocate funds for the primary.
4 The newly signed presidential primary law would move the Florida primary to the first Tuesday in which the national parties do not penalize states. 
5 See definition of "Spring primary" for clause dealing with the timing of the presidential primary.
6 Kansas has not held a presidential primary since 1992. Funds have not been appropriated by the legislature for the primary since that time. That said, there are laws in place providing for a presidential preference primary. Assuming funding, the Kansas secretary of state has the option of choosing a date -- on or before November 1 in the year preceding the presidential election -- that either coincides with at least 5 other states' delegate selection events or is on the first Tuesday in April or before.
7 A Republican-sponsored bill during the 2013 session of the Nevada legislature would create a consolidated primary (presidential primary together with state primaries) and move the contest from June to January.

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