The Primary Elections Are Coming — Here Are the States to Pay the Most Attention to

Now that 2016 is here, the presidential candidates will be gearing up for the primary elections, which will determine each political party's presidential nomination. 

The primaries begin on Feb. 1 with the Iowa caucuses, followed by New Hampshire on Feb. 9. The month of March will be the most election-heavy, with 11 nominating contests on March 1, known commonly as Super Tuesday. On that day, citizens in states like Alabama, Georgia and Texas will cast their vote.

The primaries run until late June, and then the two parties will host their national conventions in July to officially name their nominees. 

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Source: Jim Cole/AP

Although there are many, there are a few key dates and nominating contests that could shift the voting paradigm and make it clearer on who may win the nomination spot. Often, the result of one contest is dependent on the result of the previous. 

Below is a breakdown of which election dates to mark on the calendar, or at least read up on again the next day:

Feb. 1

It's game time starting on Feb. 1 with the Iowa caucuses, which will give the first taste of how the rest of the elections will go. Cruz and Clinton seem to be first in the state so far, and the stakes are high for both of them, CNN reported.

Feb. 9

Dubbed the "first-in-the-nation" primary, the New Hampshire round will be important in providing an alternative against whoever wins the Iowa caucuses, especially since New Hampshire voters focus mainly on economic and national security, CNN reported. These voters are notorious for deciding last minute, and staying independent to whatever happened over yonder in Iowa, CNN reported.

GOP candidate Ted Cruz may be first in the polls in Iowa, but Donald Trump tops him in New Hampshire, CNN reported on Jan. 4. For the Democrats, New Hampshire lies right in Bernie Sanders' territory, meaning he has a good edge over Clinton.

Feb. 20

Feb. 20 marks the first southern primary in South Carolina and a Democratic caucus in Nevada. Since South Carolina is home to many veterans, the top tier Republican candidates like Trump, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz will need to be on top of their game, the Guardian reported. This primary will be the tie-breaker between whatever happens in Iowa and New Hampshire with the Republicans, according to CNN. The southern primary will also determine if Clinton really can hold down the Democratic south. 

Nevada will test Sanders' cross-country strength, especially because Clinton won the state back in 2008, according to CNN. For Republicans, Nevada will be a time to see whether it's Cruz or Rubio who has the support of the Mormons, CNN reported.

March 1

Super Tuesday will be super indeed. If there's one primary date to watch, it might as well be this one. States like  Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia will be hosting contests.

Cruz will be hoping his campaigning will pay off with evangelical voters for these southern states, CNN reported. Sanders will probably be a shoo-in for his home state of Vermont and also Massachusetts, CNN reported. This means Clinton will probably be hoping to win the south, which will happen especially if she wins South Carolina. 

March 15

Florida and Ohio's March 15 primary will mark when states become winner-takes-all, meaning that whoever wins the state gets all of its delegates, the Guardian reported. Rubio and Bush will be fighting for their respected state of Florida. Ohio governor John Kasich will probably win over his state. 

June 7

This year, the last round of primaries — which will be in California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota — could be decisive in determining which of the many Republican candidates are up for president and vice president, the Guardian reported. 

A full listing of all the upcoming primaries can be found here

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Kathleen Wong

Kathleen is a branded content staff writer at Mic. She is based in New York and can be reached at kathleen@mic.com.

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