Key Dates

Iowa Straw Poll

The Ames Straw Poll, commonly known as the Iowa Straw Poll, is an event sponsored by the Republican Party of Iowa that typically narrows the field of presidential candidates the summer before the nominating process begins. The first Ames Straw Poll was held in 1979.

Although several preIowa Caucus straw polls take place in Iowa, the Ames Straw Poll is the most prominent because it draws voters from all over the state, rather than just the Ames area.

The Ames Straw Poll takes place in Ames, Iowa, on a Saturday in August of years in an election cycle in which the Republican presidential nomination seems to be undecided (years without an incumbent Republican president running for reelection. The next Ames Straw Poll is scheduled for Aug. 13, 2011, and will be held on the Iowa State University campus.


  • May 2, 2011 – The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calf., will host two Republican presidential debates leading up to the 2012 election. The first debate will be held in May 2011 and hosted by NBC News and POLITICO. POLITICO Editor-in-Chief John F. Harris and NBC Nightly News Anchor Brian Williams will moderate the debate, which will be aired on MSNBC, CNBC and Telemundo, and streamed live on
  • May 5, 2011 – Greenville, S.C. will play host to the first-in-the-South Republican presidential debate. The South Carolina GOP is partnering with FOX News to broadcast the debate at the Peace Center.
  • June 7, 2011 – The candidates will gather in New Hampshire for a debate sponsored by CNN, the Union Leader and WMUR-TV.
  • Aug. 11, 2011 – The Iowa Republican Party is cosponsoring a nationally televised debate with Fox New Channel on Aug. 11, two days prior to the Ames Straw Poll. The debate is intended to be an incentive for candidates to participate in the Ames event. The debate will be held at C.Y. Stevens Auditorium on the Iowa State University campus.
  • Labor Day week 2011 – The Tea Party Express will put its stamp on the 2012 presidential election by hosting a debate for Republican candidates with CNN. The debate will focus on the economy and government spending. It will be held in Tampa, where Republicans will gather in 2012 to formally select their nominee for President.
  • 2012 – The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum’s plans to host its second debate on the eve of the 2012 Super Tuesday primaries.
  • 2012 – The Des Moines Register plans to host a precaucus debate in 2012. The date has not yet been announced. 
  • 2012 – The Iowa GOP and Fox News plan to cosponsor a debate in 2012 ahead of the caucuses, now scheduled for Feb. 6 as the first of the presidential nomination contests. No date had been set for the debate.
  • 2012 – ABC News and WMUR-TV (ABC’s Hearst-owned affiliate in Manchester, NH) will be hosting a Republican presidential primary debate in New Hampshire between the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire’s primary in 2012. The specific date and time of this debate will be determined once the dates for the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary have been determined. The debate will air locally on WMUR-TV and nationally on the ABC Television Network, and streamed live on and

Iowa caucuses

Iowa has the distinction and honor of holding the First in the Nation caucuses. Iowa uses caucuses rather than primaries to nominate candidates for president. The caucuses will be held Feb. 6, 2012.

2012 presidential nominating calendar

On Aug. 6 2010, the Republican National Committee approved a 2012 presidential primary calendar in which caucuses and primaries begin after Feb. 1. The plan allows Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada to hold their contests in February. States that divide up delegates proportionally are permitted to vote in March and winner-take-all states go in April.

On Aug. 2010, the Democratic National Committee approved a primary and caucus schedule for the 2012 presidential election in which voting does not begin until February, approximately one month later than it started in the 2008 cycle.

The Iowa caucuses remain the first contest, but have been pushed back to Feb. 6. The next contest will be the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 18, followed by the South Carolina primary 10 days later. All other voting will take place on March 6 or later.

Caucus or primary dates

  • Iowa caucus – Feb. 6, 2012
  • New Hampshire primary – Feb. 15, 2012
  • Nevada caucus – Feb. 18, 2012
  • South Carolina primary – Feb. 28, 2012
  • Virginia primary – March 6, 2012

Party conventions

  • The 2012 Republican National Convention will be held in Tampa on Aug. 27–30, 2012.
  • The 2012 Democratic National Convention will be held in a location yet to be determined on Sept. 3-6, 2012. Host city finalists are Charlotte, Cleveland, Minneapolis, and St. Louis.
  • The 2012 National Convention of the Boston Tea Party will be held May 1-7, 2012.  


The United States presidential election of 2012 will be held Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. It will be the 57th quadrennial presidential election. The presidential electors will actually elect the president and vice president on Dec. 17, 2012.

Other key dates

  • Date yet to be determined – The 2012 Southern Republican Leadership Conference, a gathering of Republican activists from 14 southern states, will be held in Charleston, South Carolina. Their rules say the conference shall be held between January and May 2012; and a date that would be earlier than the Iowa caucuses is being contemplated.

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