We may not know yet who is running against President Donald Trump in 2020, but we do know where they’ll turn up in 2019.
If past is precedent in the 2020 presidential election cycle, then 2019 will be chock-full of political events around the country drawing would-be presidential candidates.
Here’s a calendar of the top deadlines, forums, chili cook-offs and steak fries to watch over the next year:
- The Q1 fundraising quarter begins: January 1. Look for presidential candidates to make announcements close to this date — they cannot begin fundraising for a presidential run until they announce, and candidates will want to prove their mettle with a strong fundraising haul in the first quarter. More days = more money.
- Politics & Eggs forums: Throughout the year. It’s a longstanding mainstay in the New Hampshire political calendar for every candidate of every party (and some, like Eric Holder, participated back in 2018). None are on the books for 2019 as of December 2018, but the breakfast event is a one-on-one forum for candidates, at which attendees are traditionally presented with “hard-to-sign” wooden eggs that they ask the politicians to sign. The event is hosted by Saint Anselm College and the New England Council — and considered a must-attend event for candidates.
- Q1 fundraising quarter ends: March 31. A candidate’s fundraising in this crucial span is an important early apples-to-apples comparison. It reveals not only how much money you can rake in, but how many donors you can attract.
- The debates (usually) begin: They’ve historically kicked off in late April or early May. It’s not yet clear what a Republican debate schedule will look like, as of December 2018.
- First DNC-hosted debates begin: Sometime in June. Expect six DNC-hosted debates during 2019. We don’t know yet how these debates will be composed, but it’s possible they could be held on consecutive nights and randomly divided for the first two debates to accommodate the anticipated large field. None of them will take place in the first four caucus and primary states, according to the party.
- Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame Dinner: Late June or early July. It’s one of the first big marquee Iowa events of the year which literally rewards the state’s most active Democrats for their involvement. We’ll see how big their event space is this year — 2015’s dinner drew five presidential hopefuls.
- Second DNC-hosted debate: Sometime in July. The party says it will also consider candidates’ grassroots fundraising as well as polling performances in determining who is included on debate stages.
- Dickinson County Summer Sizzler: Early August. A Democratic draw to northern Iowa for local, state and national candidates.
- Iowa State Fair: August 8 – August 18. With more than 1 million attendees every year – and the impossible-to-miss Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox, this Iowa mainstay is a must-visit stop on the trail for candidates of all political stripes.
- Iowa Democratic Wing Ding Dinner: August 9. This Democratic grassroots fundraising confab is 15 years old and raises funds for county democratic committees. Previous attendees include Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley.
- Londonderry Old Home Days: August 14 – August 19. The quintessentially New Hampshire tradition of Old Home Days, which is an annual midsummer event that draws natives back to their towns for parties and a parade, is a crucial stop for candidates of both parties. Reliably red Londonderry‘s event — and parade — is a must-hit for Republicans.
- Progress Iowa Corn Feed: Early September. Another speaking event drawing Democratic activists and candidates — plus Iowa sweet corn!
- New Hampshire Seacoast Republican Women’s Chili Fest: Mid-September. Historically hosted at the home of former New Hampshire speaker Doug Scamman and his wife Stella, this Granite State tradition is celebrating its 20th year.
- Polk County Democrats’ Steak Fry: September 21. This is one of the most iconic stops on the Iowa campaign trail. It has it all: Amazing photo ops of candidates flipping giant steaks on the grill, lots of loud campaign supporters and a whole lot of national press coverage. Until 2014, this event was known as the Harkin Steak Fry — but like all good political traditions was resuscitated in 2017 by the Polk County Democrats.
- Third DNC-hosted debate: Sometime in September. The DNC plans to hold 12 total debates over 2019 and 2020.
- Iowa Democratic Party Fall Gala: Late October or early November. Previously known as the Jefferson-Jackson dinner, this more formal event is one of the Iowa Democratic Party’s biggest fundraisers of the year.
- Fourth DNC-hosted debate: Sometime in October.
- The Union Leader Endorsement: Late November. There’s an argument to be made that editorials and endorsements make little electoral difference, but political insiders still very much prize an endorsement from the largest newspaper in New Hampshire. Iowa’s Des Moines Register usually doesn’t hand out its primary endorsements until January.
- Fifth DNC-hosted debate: Sometime in November.
- Progress Iowa Holiday Party: Mid-December. A holiday-season draw for Democrats both local and national alike.
- Sixth DNC-hosted debate: Sometime in December. The debates beginning in 2020 are expected to take place in the first four primary and caucus states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.
(Which all leads up to…)
- The Iowa caucuses! February 3, 2020.