Lookahead: Republican primaries 2012

The when, where and who of the Republican primary elections.

The Republican primary race has kicked off in earnest. The Iowa caucus (see here for an explanation of caucuses/primaries) marked the beginning of a flood of votes as Republican voters choose a candidate. In a race that has so-far been defined by the prevalence of the unforeseen, it is impossible to know what the next few months will hold. If you're confused by the baffling array of votes taking place, here is a guide to when they're happening, what they mean, and who we can expect to do well

Schedule

Broadly, the primaries will follow this schedule:

1 February - 5 March: Contests of traditional early states Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina
6 March - 31 March: Contests that proportionally allocate delegates
1 April and onward: All other contests including winner-take-all elections

See below for a list of all primaries and caucuses that have been announced.

Who is running?

Michele Bachmann: US Representative from Minnesota's 6th Congressional District

Herman Cain: Businessman and radio-host from Georgia (campaign suspended on 3 December, following a series of sexual harrassment allegations)

Newt Gingrich: Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia

Jon Huntsman: Former Governor of Utah and US Ambassador to China

Gary Johnson: Former Governor of New Mexico

Ron Paul: US Representative from Texas's 14th congressional district

Rick Perry: Governor of Texas

Mitt Romney: Former Governor of Massachusetts

Rick Santorum: Former Senator for Pennsylvania

Iowa

All eyes are on this state, which provides the first indication of which way voters will go. While success in Iowa does not necessarily translate into ultimate victory, it is a reasonable indication of whether a candidate's message is getting through, and can have far-reaching implications for the rest of the race. In the past, some candidates have dropped out altogether after a poor showing in Iowa.

UPDATE 4 JANUARY: Mitt Romney has won in Iowa, beating Rick Santorum by just eight votes.

Virginia

Another state that has drawn attention is Virginia -- because several candidates have failed to qualify to appear on the 6 March ballot after failing to provide the required 10,000 verified signatures. It is a particular blow for Gingrich -- whose campaign said that the state's electoral system is "failed" -- as he was leading the polls in the state. Four other candidates have also been excluded, with only Romney and Paul qualifying.

Polls

Almost all of the Republican candidates have had their time in the frontrunner spot at one point or another during this race. After a brief period on top, Gingrich is slipping behind once again, leaving the top spot open for Romney. However, the numbers are far from those traditionally enjoyed by the favourite. A poll by Rasmussen Reports last week gave Romney 25 per cent, followed by Paul on 20 per cent and Gingrich on 17, with the other candidates trailing behind with 10 per cent or less. Another poll, by Iowa State University, placed Paul on 27 per cent, Gingrich on 25, and Romney on just 17.

Timetable

3 January: Iowa (caucus)
10 January: New Hampshire (primary)
21 January: South Carolina (primary)
31 January: Florida (primary)
4 February: Nevada (caucus)
4-11 February: Maine (caucus)
7 February: Colorado (caucus), Minnesota (caucus)
28 February: Arizona (primary), Michigan (primary)
3 March: Washington (caucus)
6 March: Alaska (caucus), Georgia (primary), Idaho (caucus), Massachusetts (primary), North Dakota (caucus), Ohio (primary), Oklahoma (primary), Tennessee (primary), Vermont (primary), Virginia (primary)
6-10 March: Wyoming (caucus)
10 March: Kansas (caucus), U.S. Virgin Islands (caucus)
13 March: Alabama (primary), American Samoa (caucus), Hawaii (caucus), Mississippi (primary)
17 March: Missouri (caucus)
18 March: Puerto Rico (caucus)
20 March: Illinois (primary)
24 March: Louisiana (primary)
3 April: Maryland (primary), Texas (primary), Washington DC (primary), Wisconsin (primary)
24 April: Connecticut (primary), Delaware (primary), New York (primary), Pennsylvania (primary), Rhode Island (primary)
8 May: Indiana (primary), North Carolina (primary), West Virginia (primary)
15 May: Nebraska (primary), Oregon (primary)
22 May: Arkansas (primary), Kentucky (primary)
5 June: California (primary), Montana (primary), New Jersey (primary), New Mexico (primary), South Dakota (primary)
26 June: Utah (primary)
To be announced: Guam (caucus), Northern Mariana Islands (caucus)

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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“Why are you here?”: Juncker and MEPs mock Nigel Farage at the European Parliament

Returning to the scene of the crime.

In today's European Parliament session, Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, tried his best to keep things cordial during a debate on Brexit. He asked MEPs to "respect British democracy and the way it voiced its view".

Unfortunately, Nigel Farage, UKIP leader and MEP, felt it necessary to voice his view a little more by applauding - the last straw even for Juncker, who turned and spat: "That's the last time you are applauding here." 

MEPs laughed and clapped, and he continued: "I am surprised you are here. You are fighting for the exit. The British people voted in f avour of the exit. Why are you here?"  

Watch the exchange here:

Farage responded with an impromptu speech, in which he pointed out that MEPs laughed when he first planned to campaign for Britain to leave the EU: "Well, you're not laughing now". Hee said the EU was in "denial" and that its project had "failed".

MPs booed again.

He continued:

"Because what the little people did, what the ordinary people did – what the people who’d been oppressed over the last few years who’d seen their living standards go down did – was they rejected the multinationals, they rejected the merchant banks, they rejected big politics and they said actually, we want our country back, we want our fishing waters back, we want our borders back. 

"We want to be an independent, self-governing, normal nation. That is what we have done and that is what must happen. In doing so we now offer a beacon of hope to democrats across the rest of the European continent. I’ll make one prediction this morning: the United Kingdom will not be the last member state to leave the European Union."

The Independent has a full transcript of the speech.

Now, it sounds like Farage had something prepared – so it's no wonder he turned up in Brussels for this important task today, while Brexiteers in Britain frantically try to put together a plan for leaving the EU.

But your mole has to wonder if perhaps, in the face of a falling British pound and a party whose major source of income is MEP salaries and expenses, Farage is less willing to give up his cushy European job than he might like us to think. 

I'm a mole, innit.