Leaders of the Democratic Party adopted their 2016 presidential nominating calendar on Saturday, setting the stage for a successor to President Barack Obama. The Democratic National Committee, or DNC, approved rules for its 2016 convention along with a primary schedule that will begin with the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1, 2016, followed by voting later that month in New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. The 2016 framework is in line with plans pushed by Republicans and gives states incentives to hold their primary contests between March and June, aiming to avoid a front-loaded calendar that encroaches on the Christmas holidays. Pointing to the 2016 national meeting, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz predicted it will be the convention where “we will nominate the 45th president of the United States of America.” The plans were approved unanimously without any discussion.
A year-and-a-half before the start of presidential primary voting, Hillary Rodham Clinton remains the favorite among Democrats if she decides to run for president again while Vice President Joe Biden, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and others could potentially mount a campaign to succeed Obama.
The Democrats’ plan recommends that the New Hampshire primary be held on Feb. 9, followed by the Nevada caucuses on Feb. 20 and the South Carolina primary on Feb. 27. Other states could hold their contests from March 1 through the second Tuesday in June.
The DNC decision does not set in stone the 2016 primary schedule but discourages states from trying to jump ahead in the calendar. In the past two presidential election cycles, Democrats and Republicans have scheduled the early contests for February but then allowed them to take place in January after states such as Florida and Michigan violated the party’s rules and moved up their voting.