Recently I see Republican party started the primary vote process and they started from Iowa, and then moved to N.H and will move on to anther state.

My questions are

  1. how the order/sequence of states decided?
  2. will Democratic Party follow the same order?
  3. does Democratic Party need to start the primary voting on the same day as Republican?

Thank you!

2 Answers 2


Both the Democrats and the Republicans have voted in Iowa and New Hampshire now.

  1. For the most part, the states decide. The parties make various rules and attempt to influence the early states, but in the end, states determine when their elections occur.

  2. The Democratic party does not follow the same order. For example, the Democratic party caucus date in Nevada is not the same as the Republican primary caucus date. The South Carolina primary date is a week later for Democrats. So the Democrats will be Nevada (2/20) then South Carolina (2/27) while the Republicans will be South Carolina (2/20) then Nevada (2/23).

    Source: http://www.uspresidentialelectionnews.com/2016-presidential-primary-schedule-calendar/2016-nevada-caucus/
    Source: http://www.uspresidentialelectionnews.com/2016-presidential-primary-schedule-calendar/

  3. No. If the first scheduled election for the Democrats is a different day than the Republicans, it's a different day. However, Iowa schedules both parties on the same day.

As a practical matter, many states are unlikely to schedule their caucus or primary for different parties on different days. The reason for this is that people should only vote in one caucus/primary and that's easier to enforce if they're held at the same time.

There is something of a move to change the primaries for the Democrats to be more representative (i.e. more minority voters). There doesn't seem to be an equivalent move on the Republican side. This could result in the 2020 Democrat primaries starting in Nevada or South Carolina rather than Iowa. Or it could just blow over. Or a different state might move forward.


In the case of a primary, the date is selected by the states. However, the parties put in place rules that affect the number of delegates a state gets based upon when the primary is. That is how they prevent, say, New Jersey, from moving its primary to the week after New Hampshire.

A state party can hold a caucus whenever it wants. However, again, national party rules restrain states from becoming over eager.

After the 1968 election debacle, the Democrats changed their nominating process for 1972, spreading out the candidate selection process. For a wide variety of reasons (politics, the complexity of the Democrat's process in Iowa), Iowa was made first.

how the order/sequence of states decided?

See above

will Democratic Party follow the same order?

In general they are the same but no always. For caucuses the party is in control of the dates.

does Democratic Party need to start the primary voting on the same day as Republican?

That is entirely up to the states. Do they want to pay for separate elections?

  • Thank you very much for your answer. I can feel the state has highest power to affect the election. Is it lawful that a state just doesn't participate into the election?
    – zs2020
    Feb 11, 2016 at 1:04
  • @zsong - For primaries, yes. But that would mean that that state's citizens don't have a voice in who their party's nominee will be. Primary elections are entirely internal to the party. For the actual presidential election, no. That's defined by the Consitution.
    – Bobson
    Feb 11, 2016 at 16:43

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .