I’ve always been curious about when presidential candidates drop out of the race, especially relative to important election dates. Some candidates drop out after underperforming in a primary. Others call it quits after having problems raising money following a bad debate performance. Or, in 2012 for example, Tim Pawlenty dropped out after a poor showing at the Iowa Straw Poll.

I looked around for a good, simple calendar with this information, but didn’t find one. So I made my own!

First, I grouped important events by type (because it was a lot easier to skim and read). But, at the bottom of the post, I also merged them all into one big completely chronological & color-coded list. If you find any missing/mistaken data, let me know!

Shortcuts: Entrance dates / Republican dropouts / Republican debates / Republican town halls / Democratic dropouts / Democratic debates / Democratic town halls / Primary & caucus dates / General election dates / Sources / Complete color-coded chronological calendar


Notable entrance dates

  • 2015-03-23: ENTER - Ted Cruz is 1st Republican to officially enter race
  • 2015-04-12: ENTER - Hillary Clinton is 1st Democrat to officially enter race
  • 2015-07-30: ENTER - Jim Gilmore is 17th & final Republican to officially enter race
  • 2015-09-06: ENTER - Lawrence Lessig is 6th & final Democrat to officially enter race

I didn’t include all the candidates because these dates are mostly meaningless. Serious candidates form a Presidential Exploratory Committee 3-6 months before officially entering the race. As I understand it, these committees used to actually be “exploratory” - candidates used this time to test the waters and figure out if they should seriously run or not. But nowadays, every candidate who creates a committee is almost certainly running and uses the exploratory period to instead raise unlimited money for their Super PAC…which they can legally do because they haven’t “officially” declared they’re running for President. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


Democratic dropout dates

  • 2015-10-20: DROPOUT [D] - Jim Webb suspends campaign (after 1st debate)
  • 2015-10-21: DROPOUT [D] - Joe Biden declines to run (after 1st debate)
  • 2015-10-23: DROPOUT [D] - Lincoln Chafee suspends campaign (after 1st debate)
  • 2015-11-02: DROPOUT [D] - Lawrence Lessig suspends campaign (after not qualifying for 2nd debate)
  • 2016-02-01: DROPOUT [D] - Martin O’Malley suspends campaign (after Iowa vote)
  • Still running: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders

Republican dropout dates

  • 2015-09-11: DROPOUT [R] - Rick Perry suspends campaign (after 1st debate)
  • 2015-09-21: DROPOUT [R] - Scott Walker suspends campaign (after 2nd debate)
  • 2015-11-17: DROPOUT [R] - Bobby Jindal suspends campaign (after 4th debate)
  • 2015-12-21: DROPOUT [R] - Lindsey Graham suspends campaign (after 5th debate)
  • 2015-12-29: DROPOUT [R] - George Pataki suspends campaign (after 5th debate)
  • 2016-02-01: DROPOUT [R] - Mike Huckabee suspends campaign (after Iowa vote)
  • 2016-02-03: DROPOUT [R] - Rand Paul suspends campaign (after Iowa vote)
  • 2016-02-03: DROPOUT [R] - Rick Santorum suspends campaign (after Iowa vote)
  • 2016-02-10: DROPOUT [R] - Chris Christie suspends campaign (after NH vote)
  • 2016-02-10: DROPOUT [R] - Carly Fiorina suspends campaign (after NH vote)
  • 2016-02-12: DROPOUT [R] - Jim Gilmore1 suspends campaign (after NH vote)
  • 2016-02-20: DROPOUT [R] - Jeb Bush suspends campaign (after SC vote)
  • Still running: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Ben Carson

Republican debates

  • 2015-08-06: DEBATE - 1st Republican primary debate (Fox News)
  • 2015-09-16: DEBATE - 2nd Republican primary debate (CNN)
  • 2015-10-28: DEBATE - 3rd Republican primary debate (CNBC)
  • 2015-11-10: DEBATE - 4th Republican primary debate (Fox Business)
  • 2015-12-15: DEBATE - 5th Republican primary debate (CNN)
  • 2016-01-14: DEBATE - 6th Republican primary debate (Fox Business)
  • 2016-01-28: DEBATE - 7th Republican primary debate (Fox News)
  • 2016-02-06: DEBATE - 8th Republican primary debate (ABC)
  • 2016-02-13: DEBATE - 9th Republican primary debate (CBS)
  • 2016-02-25: DEBATE - 10th Republican primary debate (CNN)
  • 2016-03-03: DEBATE - 11th Republican primary debate (Fox News)
  • 2016-03-10: DEBATE - 12th Republican primary debate (CNN)
  • 2016-03-21: DEBATE - 13th Republican primary debate (TBD)

Republican forums & town halls

  • 2015-08-03: FORUM - Voters First Forum - Republicans (C-SPAN)
  • 2015-11-20: FORUM - Presidential Family Forum - Republicans
  • 2015-12-03: FORUM - Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum
  • 2016-01-09: FORUM - Kemp Forum - Republicans
  • 2016-02-17: FORUM - Donald Trump Town Hall (MSNBC)
  • 2016-02-17: FORUM - Republican Town Hall (CNN)
  • 2016-02-18: FORUM - Republican Town Hall (CNN)

Democratic debates

  • 2015-10-13: DEBATE - 1st Democratic primary debate (CNN)
  • 2015-11-14: DEBATE - 2nd Democratic primary debate (CBS)
  • 2015-12-19: DEBATE - 3rd Democratic primary debate (ABC)
  • 2016-01-17: DEBATE - 4th Democratic primary debate (NBC)
  • 2016-02-04: DEBATE - 5th Democratic primary debate (MSNBC)
  • 2016-02-11: DEBATE - 6th Democratic primary debate (PBS)
  • 2016-03-06: DEBATE - 7th Democratic primary debate (CNN)
  • 2016-03-09: DEBATE - 8th Democratic primary debate (Univision)

Democratic forums & town halls

  • 2015-11-06: FORUM - First in the South Democratic Candidates Forum (MSNBC)
  • 2015-11-24: FORUM - MoveOn Democratic Forum (MoveOn.org)
  • 2016-01-11: FORUM - Brown & Black Democratic Presidential Forum (Fusion.net)
  • 2016-01-25: FORUM - Iowa Democratic Town Hall (CNN)
  • 2016-02-03: FORUM - New Hampshire Democratic Town Hall (CNN)
  • 2016-02-23: FORUM - South Carolina Democratic Town Hall (CNN)

Primary & caucus dates

  • 2016-02-01: VOTE - Iowa (first caucus!)
  • 2016-02-09: VOTE - New Hampshire (first primary!)
  • 2016-02-20: VOTE - Nevada (D), South Carolina (R)
  • 2016-02-23: VOTE - Nevada (R)
  • 2016-02-27: VOTE - South Carolina (D)
  • 2016-03-01: VOTE - Alabama, Alaska (R), American Samoa, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia
  • 2016-03-05: VOTE - Kansas, Kentucky (R), Louisiana, Maine (R), Nebraska (D)
  • 2016-03-06: VOTE - Maine (D), Puerto Rico (R)
  • 2016-03-08: VOTE - Hawaii (R), Idaho (R), Michigan, Mississippi
  • 2016-03-12: VOTE - District of Columbia (R), Northern Marianas Islands (D)
  • 2016-03-15: VOTE - Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Northern Marianas Islands (R), North Carolina, Ohio
  • 2016-03-19: VOTE - Virgin Islands (R)
  • 2016-03-22: VOTE - Arizona, Idaho (D), Utah
  • 2016-03-26: VOTE - Alaska (D), Hawaii (D), Washington (D)
  • 2016-04-05: VOTE - Wisconsin
  • 2016-04-09: VOTE - Wyoming
  • 2016-04-19: VOTE - New York
  • 2016-04-26: VOTE - Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island
  • 2016-05-03: VOTE - Indiana
  • 2016-05-07: VOTE - Guam
  • 2016-05-10: VOTE - Nebraska (R), West Virginia
  • 2016-05-17: VOTE - Kentucky (D), Oregon
  • 2016-05-24: VOTE - Washington (R)
  • 2016-06-04: VOTE - Virgin Islands (D)
  • 2016-06-05: VOTE - Puerto Rico (D)
  • 2016-06-07: VOTE - California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota

Important general election dates

  • 2016-07-18: CONVENTION - Start of Republican convention (Cleveland, OH)
  • 2016-07-21: CONVENTION - End of Republican convention (Cleveland, OH)
  • 2016-07-25: CONVENTION - Start of Democratic convention (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 2016-07-28: CONVENTION - End of Democratic convention (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 2016-09-26: DEBATE - 1st general election debate
  • 2016-10-04: DEBATE - Vice Presidential debate
  • 2016-10-09: DEBATE - 2nd general election debate
  • 2016-10-19: DEBATE - 3rd general election debate
  • 2016-11-08: VOTE - Election day!

Sources & further reading


Chronological calendar

  • 2015-03-23 - ENTER - Ted Cruz is 1st Republican to officially enter race
  • 2015-04-12 - ENTER - Hillary Clinton is 1st Democrat to officially enter race
  • 2015-07-30 - ENTER - Jim Gilmore is 17th and final Republican to officially enter race
  • 2015-08-03 - FORUM - Voters First Forum [Republicans] (C-SPAN)
  • 2015-08-06 - DEBATE - 1st Republican primary debate (Fox News)
  • 2015-09-06 - ENTER - Lawrence Lessig is 6th and final Democrat to officially enter race
  • 2015-09-11 - DROPOUT - Rick Perry suspends campaign (after 1st debate)
  • 2015-09-16 - DEBATE - 2nd Republican primary debate (CNN)
  • 2015-09-21 - DROPOUT - Scott Walker suspends campaign (after 2nd debate)
  • 2015-10-13 - DEBATE - 1st Democratic primary debate (CNN)
  • 2015-10-20 - DROPOUT - Jim Webb suspends campaign (after 1st debate)
  • 2015-10-21 - DROPOUT - Joe Biden declines to run (after 1st debate)
  • 2015-10-23 - DROPOUT - Lincoln Chafee suspends campaign (after 1st debate)
  • 2015-10-28 - DEBATE - 3rd Republican primary debate (CNBC)
  • 2015-11-02 - DROPOUT - Lawrence Lessig suspends campaign (after not qualifying for 2nd debate)
  • 2015-11-06 - FORUM - First in the South Democratic Candidates Forum (MSNBC)
  • 2015-11-10 - DEBATE - 4th Republican primary debate (Fox Business)
  • 2015-11-14 - DEBATE - 2nd Democratic primary debate (CBS)
  • 2015-11-17 - DROPOUT - Bobby Jindal suspends campaign (after 4th debate)
  • 2015-11-20 - FORUM - Presidential Family Forum [Republicans]
  • 2015-11-24 - FORUM - MoveOn Democratic Forum (MoveOn.org)
  • 2015-12-03 - FORUM - Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum
  • 2015-12-15 - DEBATE - 5th Republican primary debate (CNN)
  • 2015-12-19 - DEBATE - 3rd Democratic primary debate (ABC)
  • 2015-12-21 - DROPOUT - Lindsey Graham suspends campaign (after 5th debate)
  • 2015-12-29 - DROPOUT - George Pataki suspends campaign (after 5th debate)
  • 2016-01-09 - FORUM - Kemp Forum [Republicans]
  • 2016-01-11 - FORUM - Brown & Black Democratic Presidential Forum (Fusion.net)
  • 2016-01-14 - DEBATE - 6th Republican primary debate (Fox Business)
  • 2016-01-17 - DEBATE - 4th Democratic primary debate (NBC)
  • 2016-01-25 - FORUM - Iowa Democratic Town Hall (CNN)
  • 2016-01-28 - DEBATE - 7th Republican primary debate (Fox News)
  • 2016-02-01 - VOTE - Iowa (first caucus!)
  • 2016-02-01 - DROPOUT - Martin O’Malley suspends campaign (after Iowa vote)
  • 2016-02-01 - DROPOUT - Mike Huckabee suspends campaign (after Iowa vote)
  • 2016-02-03 - DROPOUT - Rand Paul suspends campaign (after Iowa vote)
  • 2016-02-03 - DROPOUT - Rick Santorum suspends campaign (after Iowa vote)
  • 2016-02-03 - FORUM - New Hampshire Democratic Town Hall (CNN)
  • 2016-02-04 - DEBATE - 5th Democratic primary debate (MSNBC)
  • 2016-02-06 - DEBATE - 8th Republican primary debate (ABC)
  • 2016-02-09 - VOTE - New Hampshire (first primary!)
  • 2016-02-10 - DROPOUT - Carly Fiorina suspends campaign (after NH vote)
  • 2016-02-10 - DROPOUT - Chris Christie suspends campaign (after NH vote)
  • 2016-02-11 - DEBATE - 6th Democratic primary debate (PBS)
  • 2016-02-12 - DROPOUT - Jim Gilmore suspends campaign (after NH vote)
  • 2016-02-13 - DEBATE - 9th Republican primary debate (CBS)
  • 2016-02-17 - FORUM - Republican Town Hall (CNN)
  • 2016-02-18 - FORUM - Republican Town Hall (CNN)
  • 2016-02-20 - VOTE - Nevada (D), South Carolina (R)
  • 2016-02-20 - DROPOUT - Jeb Bush suspends campaign (after SC vote)
  • 2016-02-23 - FORUM - South Carolina Democratic Town Hall (CNN)
  • 2016-02-23 - VOTE - Nevada (R)
  • 2016-02-25 - DEBATE - 10th Republican primary debate (CNN)
  • 2016-02-27 - VOTE - South Carolina (D)
  • 2016-03-01 - VOTE - Alabama, Alaska (R), American Samoa, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia
  • 2016-03-03 - DEBATE - 11th Republican primary debate (Fox News)
  • 2016-03-05 - VOTE - Kansas, Kentucky (R), Louisiana, Maine (R), Nebraska (D)
  • 2016-03-06 - DEBATE - 7th Democratic primary debate (CNN)
  • 2016-03-06 - VOTE - Maine (D), Puerto Rico (R)
  • 2016-03-08 - VOTE - Hawaii (R), Idaho (R), Michigan, Mississippi
  • 2016-03-09 - DEBATE - 8th Democratic primary debate (Univision)
  • 2016-03-10 - DEBATE - 12th Republican primary debate (CNN)
  • 2016-03-12 - VOTE - District of Columbia (R), Northern Marianas Islands (D)
  • 2016-03-15 - VOTE - Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Northern Marianas Islands (R), North Carolina, Ohio
  • 2016-03-19 - VOTE - Virgin Islands (R)
  • 2016-03-21 - DEBATE - 13th Republican primary debate (TBD)
  • 2016-03-22 - VOTE - Arizona, Idaho (D), Utah
  • 2016-03-26 - VOTE - Alaska (D), Hawaii (D), Washington (D)
  • 2016-04-05 - VOTE - Wisconsin
  • 2016-04-09 - VOTE - Wyoming
  • 2016-04-19 - VOTE - New York
  • 2016-04-26 - VOTE - Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island
  • 2016-05-03 - VOTE - Indiana
  • 2016-05-07 - VOTE - Guam
  • 2016-05-10 - VOTE - Nebraska (R), West Virginia
  • 2016-05-17 - VOTE - Kentucky (D), Oregon
  • 2016-05-24 - VOTE - Washington (R)
  • 2016-06-04 - VOTE - Virgin Islands (D)
  • 2016-06-05 - VOTE - Puerto Rico (D)
  • 2016-06-07 - VOTE - California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota
  • 2016-07-18 - CONVENTION - Start of Republican convention (Cleveland, OH)
  • 2016-07-21 - CONVENTION - End of Republican convention (Cleveland, OH)
  • 2016-07-25 - CONVENTION - Start of Democratic convention (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 2016-07-28 - CONVENTION - End of Democratic convention (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 2016-09-26 - DEBATE - 1st general election debate
  • 2016-10-04 - DEBATE - Vice Presidential debate
  • 2016-10-09 - DEBATE - 2nd general election debate
  • 2016-10-19 - DEBATE - 3rd general election debate
  • 2016-11-08 - VOTE - Election day!
  1. Yes, this is the same Jim Gilmore who got 12 votes in Iowa (not 12%…just 12 actual votes) and got fewer votes in New Hampshire than 3 candidates who had already dropped out. ↩︎