2020 Primaries

The presidential primaries are the process states and political parties follow in order to nominate the Democratic/Republican presidential candidate. Some states hold primaries, in which a secret ballot takes place, while other states do a caucus, in which individuals publicly align with their chosen candidate. Each state holds their own primary/caucuses at different points between the months of February - June. Afterward, during the Democratic National Convention on July 13-16 and the Republican National Convention on August 24-27, the presidential candidates will be announced

Primary Schedule

What is Required to Get the Nomination

For both primaries and caucuses, candidates must hit a threshold of 15% of votes in order to begin collecting delegates. Each state has a set number of delegates, pledged and unpledged. Pledged delegates are awarded proportionally to the candidates based on their percentage of votes, and these delegates are bound to vote for that candidate. In addition, unpledged delegates, or superdelegates, are party leaders or elected officials who are able to vote freely for whichever candidate they wish. For the first round of nomination, a candidate must get a majority of the 3,979 pledged delegates. If no candidate is able to reach this threshold, then a second round will be done in which the ~770 superdelegates will join the pledged delegates and vote. With this, the official presidential candidate can be decided.

Virginia Primary

The Virginia Primary takes place on March 3, also known as Super Tuesday. Every primary cycle, Super Tuesday is the day in late February/early March in which a great deal of states hold their primaries. No other day has as many primaries held on it. 1,357 total pledged delegates will be up for grabs. 

The Virginia primary will have 99 pledged delegates and 25 unpledged delegates, including 14 members of the Democratic National Committee, 9 members of Congress, including both Senators and 7 U.S. Representatives; the governor; and former DNC chair Terry McAuliffe.

While the deadline to register to vote in time for the primary has passed (February 10th), it is still important to ensure everything is in order. In addition, if you will be at least 18 by the time of Nov. 3, 2020, you will be able to register and vote for the March 3 primary. 

For absentee voting, a few important deadlines must be remembered:

  • February 25, 5:00 PM - The deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail

  • February 29 - The deadline to vote in-person

  • March 3 - The deadline to return the ballot by mail

Further Resources

2020 Presidential Election Calendar. (n.d.). 270toWin.Com. Retrieved February 12, 2020, from https://www.270towin.com/2020-election-calendar/


Prokop, A. (2020, January 27). The strange and crucially important order of the Democratic primary states, explained. Vox. https://www.vox.com/2020/1/27/20686864/democratic-primary-calendar-2020-iowa-super-tuesday

How Democrats Choose Their Presidential Nominee – and Why It’ll Take Awhile. (n.d.). US News & World Report. Retrieved February 12, 2020, from https://www.usnews.com/news/elections/articles/2020-02-11/how-democrats-choose-their-presidential-nominee-and-why-itll-take-awhile