Timeline of the 2020 United States presidential election

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United States presidential election, 2020 timeline

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The following is a timeline of major events leading up, during, and after the United States presidential election of 2020. President Donald Trump of the Republican Party, who was elected in 2016, is seeking reelection to a second term.

The election is the 59th quadrennial United States presidential election and is scheduled to be held on November 3, 2020. The presidential primaries and caucuses are scheduled to be held between February and June, 2020, staggered among the 50 states, Washington, D.C., and U.S. territories. The U.S. Congress is scheduled to certify the electoral result on January 5, 2021, and the new or incumbent president and vice president are planned to be inaugurated on January 20, 2021.


John Delaney was the first major Democratic candidate to announce his campaign on July 28, 2017
  • February 17: Republican incumbent president Donald Trump informally announces his candidacy for a second term and holds the first of a series of occasional reelection campaign rallies in Melbourne, Florida.[1]
  • July 28: Representative John Delaney of Maryland officially announces his candidacy for the nomination of the Democratic Party,[2] breaking the record for the earliest official presidential candidacy declaration in history.[3]
  • November 6: Tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang of New York announces his candidacy for the nomination of the Democratic Party.[4]


  • January 16: Anti-war activist Adam Kokesh announces his candidacy for the nomination of the Libertarian Party. Hours after the announcement, he was pulled over twice and subsequently arrested on possession-related charges.[5][6]
  • May 3: The Republican National Committee eliminates their debate committee for the 2020 election cycle, signaling that that they do not plan to sanction any debates between Trump and possible primary challengers.[7]
  • July 3: Former Libertarian National Committee vice-chair Arvin Vohra announces his candidacy for the nomination of the Libertarian Party.[8]
  • July 18: Charlotte, North Carolina is chosen as the host city of the 2020 Republican National Convention[9]
  • August 25: Democratic Party officials and television networks begin discussions as to the nature and scheduling of the following year's debates and the nomination process.[10] Changes were made to the role of superdelegates, deciding to only allow them to vote on the first ballot if the nomination is uncontested[11]
  • November 6: In the midterm elections, the Democrats capture control of the U.S. House of Representatives with a net gain of 41 seats. The Republicans hold their majority in the U.S. Senate with a net gain of two seats.[12]
  • November 7: President Trump confirms that Mike Pence will remain vice presidential pick[13]
  • November 11: West Virginia state senator Richard Ojeda announces candidacy for the nomination of the Democratic Party. He ultimately would become the first candidate to withdraw from the race, suspending his campaign on January 25, 2019, more than a year before the Iowa caucus (see below).[14]
  • December 12: Former secretary of housing and urban development Julian Castro forms a presidential exploratory committee for a possible run for the nomination of the Democratic Party[15]
  • December 31: Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts forms an exploratory committee for a possible run for the nomination of the Democratic Party.[16] She would ultimately decide to commit to an official campaign in February 2019 (see below).



Kamala Harris launched her campaign on January 21, 2019
  • January 11: Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii announces she has decided to run for the nomination of the Democratic Party[17]
  • January 12: Former secretary of housing and urban development Julian Castro officially announces his candidacy for the nomination of the Democratic Party[15][18]
  • January 15: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York announces the formation of an exploratory committee for a possible run for the nomination of the Democratic Party.[19] She would then launch an official campaign in March (see below).
  • January 21: Senator Kamala Harris of California officially announces her candidacy for the nomination of the Democratic Party[20]
  • January 23: Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg announces the formation of a exploratory committee for a possible run for the nomination of the Democratic Party[21]
  • January 25:
  • January 27: Starbucks founder Howard Schultz announces possible independent presidential bid, [24] which is followed by a furious backlash on social media[25][26]
  • January 28: Spiritual teacher and author Marianne Williamson of California announces her candidacy for the nomination of the Democratic Party.[27]


Bill Weld announcing the formation of an exploratory committee on February 15, 2019, becoming Trump's first official Republican challenger
  • February 1: On Twitter, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey announces his candidacy for the nomination of the Democratic Party[28]
  • February 9: Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts announces her candidacy for the nomination of the Democratic Party, soon after forming an exploratory committee.[29]
  • February 10: Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota announces her candidacy for the nomination of the Democratic Party[30]
  • February 12: The first mass-rally of the Trump campaign of the year takes place in El Paso, Texas. A counter-rally led by former Democratic U.S. representative Beto O'Rourke of Texas takes place less than a mile away.[31] O’Rourke would later enter the race in March for the Democratic nomination (see below).
  • February 13-15: Winter meeting of the Democratic National Committee, in which the rules of the upcoming primary are promulgated[32]
  • February 15: Former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld announces the formation of an exploratory committee, becoming Trump's first official challenger in the Republican primaries[33]
  • February 18: Youngstown Board of Education member Dario Hunter announces his candidacy for the nomination of the Green Party.[34]
  • February 19: Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont announces his candidacy for the nomination of the Democratic Party[35]


Elizabeth Warren (right) being interviewed at South by Southwest, March 2019


Joe Biden launched his campaign on April 25, 2019, increasing the number of major Democratic candidates to 20[47]
  • April 1: Eight Democratic candidates attend the We the People Membership Summit at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C., discussing Democracy reform.[48][49]
  • April 3-5: National Action Network convention. The second so-called "cattle call" event of the campaign. Twelve candidates show up and speak.[50][51]
  • April 4: Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio announces his candidacy for the Democratic Party nomination.[52]
  • April 8:
    • Senator Mike Gravel of Alaska announces his candidacy for the Democratic Party nomination.[53]
    • Representative Eric Swalwell of California announces his candidacy for the Democratic Party nomination.[54]
  • April 14: Buttigieg officially announces his candidacy for the Democratic Party nomination,[55] having previously formed an exploratory committee earlier in January (see above).
  • April 15: Weld officially announces his candidacy for the Republican Party nomination,[56] having previously formed an exploratory committee earlier in February (see above).
  • April 22: Representative Seth Moulton of Massachusetts announces his candidacy for the Democratic Party nomination.[57]
  • April 24: Eight Democratic candidates attend the She the People Presidential Forum at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas, discussing issues affecting women of color.[58][59]
  • April 25: Former vice president Joe Biden announces his candidacy for the Democratic Party nomination. He becomes the 20th major Democratic candidate to enter the race.[47]
  • April 27: Several Democratic candidates attend the National Forum on Wages and Working People at Enclave in Las Vegas, Nevada, discussing economic issues affecting low-income Americans.[60][61]


Pete Buttigieg speaking at the 2019 California State Democratic Convention, held from May 31 to June 2
  • May 2: Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado announces his candidacy for the nomination of the Democratic Party[62]
  • May 14: Governor Steve Bullock of Montana announces his candidacy for the nomination of the Democratic Party.[63]
  • May 16: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announces his candidacy for the nomination of the Democratic Party.[64]
  • May 28: Green Party co-founder and perennial candidate Howie Hawkins announces his candidacy for the nomination of the Green Party.[65]
  • May 31: Castro, Inslee, Harris, and Sanders discuss immigration reform at the Unity and Freedom Forum at the Hilton Pasadena, in Pasadena, California.[66][67]
  • May 31-June 2: California State Democratic Convention, a major "cattle call" event attended by most major candidates.[68][69] Joe Biden is a no-show at the event, attending a Human Rights Campaign event in Ohio at the same time.[70][71]


Donald Trump officially kicking-off his re-election campaign in Orlando, Florida on June 18, 2019
  • June 1: Several Democratic candidates attend the Big Ideas Forum at Warfield Theatre in San Francisco, California.[72]
  • June 5: Iowa Democrats' Hall of Fame Dinner: an event featuring 19 candidates. Due to his granddaughter's high school graduation, Biden is absent. [73]
  • June 13: The Democratic National Committee announces that 20 candidates will participate in the first official Democratic debate on June 26–27.[74]
  • June 15: Several Democratic candidates attend the Presidential Candidates Forum at Charleston Music Hall in Charleston, South Carolina, televised on a tape delay on BET.[75][76]
  • June 17: Ten Democratic candidates discuss issues affecting low-income Americans at the Poor People's Campaign Presidential Forum at Trinity Washington University in Washington, D.C.[77][78]
  • June 18: Trump holds "kickoff" rally in Orlando, Florida.[79]
  • June 21: Issues affecting Hispanic and Latino Americans are discussed by eight Democratic candidates at the NALEO Presidential Candidate Forum at Telemundo Center in Miami, Florida.[80][81]
  • June 22:
  • June 23: Former representative Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania announces his candidacy for the Democratic Party nomination.[86] Sestak cited his daughter's fight with brain cancer as his reason for his delayed June announcement.[87]
  • June 26–27: The Democratic debate series commences with a two-night debate at the Adrienne Arsht Center in downtown Miami, hosted by NBC and broadcast on its networks.[88][89]
  • June 30: New Hampshire state representative Max Abramson announces his candidacy for the nomination of the Libertarian Party.[90][91]


Bernie Sanders campaigning at the Ames, Iowa July 4 parade, 2019
  • July 5: Issues affecting public schools are discussed by Democratic candidates at the Strong Public Schools Presidential Forum at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas.[92][93]
  • July 8: Swalwell becomes the second candidate, after Ojeda on January 25, to drop out of the Democratic nomination race. Swalwell says that he wanted to narrow the crowded Democratic field after he felt that he did not have a path to winning it himself.[94]
  • July 9: Hedge fund manager Tom Steyer of California announces his candidacy for the nomination of the Democratic Party.[95]
  • July 11: Issues affecting Hispanic and Latino Americans are discussed by Democratic candidates at the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Presidential Candidates Forum at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.[96][97]
  • July 11–13: Castro, Gillibrand, Inslee, and Warren make appearances at the Netroots Nation at the Pennsylvania Convention Center Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by the Netroots Foundation.[98]
  • July 15–20: Twenty Democratic candidates make appearances at the Iowa Presidential Candidate Forums in Des Moines, Davenport, Cedar Rapids, Sioux City, and Council Bluffs.[99]
  • July 18: CNN announces the lineup for the second Democratic debate to be held July 30-31.[100]
  • July 24: Ten Democratic candidates appear at the 2020 Presidential Candidates Forum in Detroit, Michigan.[101]
  • July 30: Democratic governor Gavin Newsom of California signs a bill into state law requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns for the past five years in order to qualify for the California primary ballot. It is intended to force President Trump to reveal his taxes, which he has refused to do since his 2016 campaign. Republicans view this as unconstitutional, claiming that a state cannot mandate additional eligibility requirements for the presidency beyond what is stated in Article Two of the US Constitution.[102]
  • July 30–31: The second Democratic debate commences with a two-night debate at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, airing on CNN.[103]


Andrew Yang at the Presidential Gun Sense Forum on August 10, 2019
  • August 1: Gravel becomes the third candidate to drop out of the Democratic nomination race, citing a failure to qualify for either Democratic debates.[104]
  • August 3: Nineteen Democratic candidates attend the Public Service Forum at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.[105]
  • August 5–6: Lawsuits are filled to challenge California's new law that will prevent President Trump from appearing on the state's primary ballot unless he releases his tax returns. The first lawsuit is filled by the conservative activist group Judicial Watch on behalf of four California voters.[106] Additional lawsuits are filed on August 6 by the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee, and the California Republican Party.[107]
  • August 8-18: The Iowa State Fair takes place, and is attended by at least twenty of the candidates.[108]
  • August 10: Seventeen Democratic candidates discuss gun issues at the Gun Sense Forum in Des Moines, Iowa.[109]
  • August 15: Hickenlooper becomes the fourth candidate to drop out of the Democratic nomination race. His campaign cites low poll numbers, lack of donors, a large turnover of campaign staff in July, and the likelihood of not qualifying for the third Democratic debate in September.[110]
  • August 19: In the Iowa State Fair Straw Poll, Biden edged Warren by 10 votes among Democratic primary candidates, while Trump won at least 96 percent of the vote among Republican primary candidates.[111][112]
  • August 19–20: Democratic candidates discuss issues affecting Native Americans at the Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum at Orpheum Theater in Sioux City, Iowa.[113]
  • August 21: Inslee becomes the fifth candidate to drop out of the Democratic nomination race.[114] Unlikely to qualify for the third Democratic debate in September, he decides to instead run for another term as governor of Washington.[115]
  • August 23: Moulton becomes the sixth candidate to drop out of the Democratic primary. Never able to gather enough fundraising or to register in the polls, he decides to instead run for another term in the House of Representatives.[116]
  • August 25: Former congressman Joe Walsh from Illinois announces his candidacy for the Republican Party nomination, becoming Trump's second official primary challenger after Weld.[117]
  • August 28:
    • Gillibrand becomes the seventh candidate to drop out of the Democratic primary, citing her inability to qualify for the third Democratic debate in September.[118]
    • Only 10 candidates qualify for the third Democratic debate. Both Gabbard and Steyer criticize its stricter polling criteria that led to their disqualification.[119]
  • August 31: Due to security concerns, the Democratic National Committee orders both the Iowa and Nevada Democratic state parties to scrap their plans for "virtual caucuses", which would have allowed those unable to physically attend the Iowa or Nevada Democratic caucuses to participate online or by teleconference.[120]


Beto O'Rourke speaking at the New Hampshire Democratic state convention on September 7, 2019


Future scheduled events[edit]

Primary debates[edit]

In December 2018, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) announced a preliminary schedule for 12 official DNC-sanctioned debates, six in 2019 and six during the first four months of 2020.[154]

The Republican National Committee (RNC) has yet to schedule any official RNC-sanctioned debates between incumbent President Trump and any Republican primary challenger.[155] Any debates scheduled so far with Trump's primary challengers have been instead sponsored by private organizations.

  • November 20: The fifth Democratic debate will take place in Georgia, with a specific venue yet to be determined.[156]
  • December TBA: The sixth Democratic debate will take place on a date and place yet to be determined.[157]
  • Jan–Apr TBA: Dates and places for the last six Democratic debates yet to be determined.[157]

Presidential forums[edit]

Several private organizations are hosting forums focusing on select issues and candidates. Not all of them are documented, but these are some of the major ones upcoming:


Primary and caucus calendar[edit]

The following anticipated primary and caucus dates are accurate as of September 2019, but may change depending on state legislation passed, revised state party delegate selection plans, or the decisions of state secretaries of state before the scheduled primary dates.[161]

The dates for all Democratic Party primaries and caucuses have been scheduled or are tentatively scheduled.[161]

Several Republican state and territory committees have not yet set a date for their respective primaries or caucuses. Some of the Republican state committees have, or are contemplating, scrapping their primary/caucus altogether.[162] They have cited the fact that Republicans canceled several state primaries when George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush sought a second term in 1992 and 2004, respectively; and Democrats scrapped some of their primaries when Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were seeking reelection in 1996 and 2012, respectively.[163][164]

Canceled Republican primaries/caucuses: Alaska,[140] Arizona,[128] Kansas, Nevada, South Carolina[124]






State party conventions[edit]

Several states may use a walking subcaucus or other similar systems where voters instead choose delegates to local or state party conventions, which then in turn directly select the delegates to the national convention. The following are such scheduled state party conventions.

  • May 7–9: Wyoming Republican State Convention[165]
  • June 6: Wyoming Democratic State Convention, Powell, Wyoming[166][167]
  • June 13:
    • Iowa Democratic State Convention[168]
    • Iowa Republican State Convention[169]

National party conventions[edit]

General election debates[edit]

On October 11, 2019, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced the schedule for the general election debates.[173]

Election Day to Inauguration Day[edit]


Election campaign candidate participation timeline[edit]

Candidate announcement and, if applicable, withdrawal dates are as follows:

Richard Ojeda 2020 presidential campaignEric Swalwell 2020 presidential campaignMike Gravel 2020 presidential campaignJohn Hickenlooper 2020 presidential campaignJay Inslee 2020 presidential campaignSeth Moulton 2020 presidential campaignKirsten Gillibrand 2020 presidential campaignBill de Blasio 2020 presidential campaignAndrew Yang 2020 presidential campaignMarianne Williamson 2020 presidential campaignElizabeth Warren 2020 presidential campaignTom Steyer 2020 presidential campaignJoe Sestak 2020 presidential campaignBernie Sanders 2020 presidential campaignTim Ryan 2020 presidential campaignBeto O'Rourke 2020 presidential campaignWayne Messam 2020 presidential campaignAmy Klobuchar 2020 presidential campaignKamala Harris 2020 presidential campaignTulsi Gabbard 2020 presidential campaignJohn Delaney 2020 presidential campaignJulian Castro 2020 presidential campaignPete Buttigieg 2020 presidential campaignSteve Bullock 2020 presidential campaignCory Booker 2020 presidential campaignJoe Biden 2020 presidential campaignMichael Bennet 2020 presidential campaignBill Weld 2020 presidential campaignJoe Walsh 2020 presidential campaignDonald Trump 2020 presidential campaignMark Sanford 2020 presidential campaign


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