Now what? The key dates on the road to the White House in 2020

Mail-in ballots have already gone out, but Election Day is Nov. 6 and will draw voters to the polls.
Mail-in ballots have already gone out, but Election Day is Nov. 6 and will draw voters to the polls. Fresno Bee file

Ballots are still being tallied after Tuesday’s midterms, but for the Democrats considering challenging President Donald Trump, it’s time to look ahead to the next election

Here are the key dates to keep an eye on for the 2020 campaign for the White House:


Dec. 31: Several potential Democratic candidates, including former Vice President Joe Biden, former Housing and Urban Development secretary Julián Castro and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg have said they will decide whether to run by the end of the year.

Announcements that early could put the pressure on other presidential hopefuls to make up their minds too.


April 15: First quarter campaign finance reports are due to the Federal Election Commission. This will provide the first clear look at the fundraising prowess of candidates who have jumped into the race.

Spring/summer: Democrats are reportedly considering holding their first debate of the primaries earlier than usual. By comparison, the first Democratic debate of the last cycle took place in October 2015, while the Republicans kicked off their debate season in August 2015.

If national polls are once again used to determine whether candidates make the debate stage, the jockeying among what’s expected to be a giant field of contenders for media attention will get aggressive quickly.


Feb. 3*: As is tradition, the Democratic nominating process will officially begin with the Iowa caucuses. The state could play an even more significant role in winnowing a massive field of candidates this time around.

In the last four open Democratic presidential contests, the winner of the Iowa caucuses has gone on to become the party’s nominee.

Feb. 11*: New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary will take place. The state has not been as predictive as Iowa recently. Hillary Clinton won in 2008, while Bernie Sanders took first in 2016.

Feb. 15:* Next up are the Nevada caucuses. This will mark the first contest where non-white voters play an outsized role. According to 2016 exit polls, 19 percent of the state’s caucus-goers were Latino, while 13 percent were black and four percent were Asian.

Feb. 22*: The South Carolina primary will round out the month of February, and it’s significant because it’s the first test in the South. Black voters accounted for 61 percent of the state’s Democratic primary electorate in 2016.

March 3*: Nine states are currently scheduled to hold their primaries on 2020’s Super Tuesday. The biggest prize will be California, which moved up its primary date from June. Several home state candidates, such as Sen. Kamala Harris, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and San Francisco hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, could still be in the mix by then.

June 16: The Democratic primary season is set to close out in Washington, D.C.

July 13–16: The Democratic National Convention takes place, but the location has yet to be determined. The three finalists to host: Houston, Miami Beach and Milwaukee.

Aug. 24-27: The GOP will hold its convention more than a month after the Democrats, a larger gap than usual. Charlotte will host the Republican National Convention this year. President Trump won North Carolina, a traditional battleground state, by four points in 2016.

Fall: In between the conventions and Election Day, there are typically three presidential debates and one vice-presidential debate.

Nov. 3: The general election.

*These are proposed dates that are subject to change

Adam Wollner: 202-383-6020, @AdamWollner