The presidential primary season kicks off with the Iowa caucuses, which begin a long process that will take many forms in many states. The aim is to choose delegates to the national Republican and Democratic conventions this summer, where each party will nominate its candidate for the general election in November.
States can choose to hold a caucus or a primary or a hybrid of both systems.
A caucus, or meeting, includes enrolled members of a party who choose delegates to the national conventions. These delegates back a presidential candidate or seek to become uncommitted delegates.
In Iowa, for example, voters in each party listen to speeches at schools and other gathering places statewide and then vote for delegates backing a presidential candidate or running as uncommitted.
New Hampshire will follow with the first presidential primary on Feb. 9. Primaries are direct votes for the presidential candidates and more closely resemble elections.
Eleven states have open primaries in which all registered voters may vote in the primaries. Voters not enrolled in a political party in most of these states may vote in either the Republican or Democratic primaries. Unlike most open primary states, New Hampshire does not allow Republicans to vote in the Democratic primary or Democrats to vote in the Republican primary.
Eleven states have closed primaries, which means a voter can vote only for a candidate in his or her party. The other states have either hybrids or caucuses.
Most states send delegates to the convention that proportionally reflect the popular vote of each candidate in a caucus or primary. For example, if a presidential candidate won 60 percent of the primary vote or 60 percent of delegates in a caucus vote, he or she would be assured six out of every 10 delegates from that state.
A few states adopt a winner-takes-all process in which the top candidate gains the automatic support of all delegates.
But not all delegates are obligated to support a specific candidate at the national convention based on the popular vote. Those rules vary by state. In Iowa, for example, all delegates are unpledged.
Many states also have “superdelegates” who are uncommitted and are often elected officials.
Following is the schedule of party primaries and caucuses in states and American territories through June 14, and the number of convention delegates at stake in each:
Iowa Caucus, 52-D; 30-R
New Hampshire Primary, 32-D; 23-R
South Carolina Republican Primary, 50-R
Nevada Democratic Caucus, 43-D
Nevada Republican Caucus, 30-R
South Carolina Democratic Primary, 59-D
Alabama Primary, 60-D; 50-R
Alaska Republican Caucus, 28-R
American Samoa Democratic Caucus, 10-D
Arkansas Primary, 37-D; 40-R
Colorado Democratic Caucus, 79-D
Georgia Primary, 116-D; 76-R
Massachusetts Primary, 116-D; 42-R
Minnesota Caucus, 93-D; 38-R
Oklahoma Primary, 42-D; 43-R
Tennessee Primary, 76-D; 58-R
Texas Primary, 252-D; 155-R
Vermont Primary, 26-D; 16-R
Virginia Primary, 110-D; 49-R
Wyoming Republican Caucus, 29-R
Kentucky Republican Caucus, 45-R
Kansas Caucus, 37-D; 40-R
Louisiana Primary, 58-D; 46-R
Maine Republican Caucus, 23-R
Nebraska Democratic Caucus, 30-D
Maine Democratic Caucus, 30-D
Puerto Rico Republican Primary, 23-R
Hawaii Republican Caucus, 19-R
Idaho Republican Primary, 32-R
Michigan Primary, 148-D; 59-R
Mississippi Primary, 41-D; 40-R
District of Columbia Republican Caucus, 19-R
Northern Mariana Islands Democratic Caucus, 11-D
Florida Primary, 246-D; 99-R
Illinois Primary, 182-D; 69-R
Missouri Primary, 84-D; 52-R
North Carolina Primary, 121-D; 72-R
Northern Mariana Islands Republican Caucus, 9-R
Ohio Primary, 160-D; 66-R
Virgin Islands Republican Caucus, 9-R
Arizona Primary, 85-D; 58-R
Idaho Democratic Caucus, 27-D
Utah Primary, 37-D; 40-R
Alaska Democratic Primary, 20-D
Hawaii Democratic Primary, 34-D
Washington Democratic Caucus, 118-D
Wisconsin Primary, 96-D; 42R
Wyoming Democratic Primary, 18-D
New York Primary, 291-D; 95-R
Connecticut Primary, 70-D; 28-R
Delaware Primary, 31-D; 16-R
Maryland Primary, 118-D; 38-R
Pennsylvania Primary, 210-D; 71-R
Rhode Island Primary, 33-D; 19-R
Indiana Primary, 92-D; 57-R
Guam Democratic Primary, 12-D
Nebraska Republican Primary, 36-R
West Virginia Primary, 34-D; 34-R
Kentucky Democratic Primary, 61-D
Oregon Primary, 73-D; 28-R
Washington Republican Primary, 44-R
Virgin Islands Democratic Caucus, 12-D
Puerto Rico Democratic Caucus, 67-D
California Primary, 546-D; 172-R
Montana Primary, 27-D; 27-R
New Jersey Primary, 142-D; 51-R
New Mexico Primary, 43-D; 24-R
North Dakota Democratic Caucus, 23-D
South Dakota Primary, 25-D; 29-R
District of Columbia Democratic Primary, 46-D
Note: Republicans will not hold presidential preference votes in American Samoa (9 delegates); Colorado (37 delegates); Guam (9 delegates); North Dakota (28 delegates) and Wyoming (29 delegates). GOP delegates from those states and United States territories will remain unpledged.