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The road to the White House: Important dates in the U.S. election

A general view of the North Lawn of the White House in Washington January 24, 2012.

JONATHAN ERNST/Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Follow this calendar for key dates in the U.S. presidential election, including all primaries, caucuses, debates and conventions. A version optimized for mobile devices can be found on Google Calendar.

January 31

Florida Republican primary

Polls in Florida have been especially volatile. Mitt Romney once led by a substantial margin, then Newt Gingrich, and now both are neck-and-neck.

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February 4

Maine, Nevada caucuses

Feb. 7

Colorado, Minnesota caucuses

Missouri, an important state for Republicans, will hold a nonbinding primary to gauge opinion on the candidates, but delegates to the national convention will be decided in the state's caucuses on March 17.

Feb. 22

Republican debate

A Republication presidential debate will be hosted by the Arizona Republican Party and broadcast by CNN. The debate was pushed back from its original date in late November, 2011, to coincide with the Arizona primary only six days later.

Feb. 28

Arizona, Michigan primaries

March 1

Republican debate

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A Republican presidential debate will be hosted in Georgia and broadcast by CNN. The debate was organized to coincide with Super Tuesday, happening just five days later, when eleven states hold primaries or caucuses. A Republican nominee may be known by Wednesday, making this a crucial debate for remaining candidates.

March 3

Caucuses in Washington

March 6

Super Tuesday

Contests in: Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Wyoming

About one fifth of the delegates will be decided. A winner of the nomination could be known by the next day.

March 10

Caucuses in Guam, Kansas, and the Virgin Islands

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March 13

Caucuses in Alabama, American Samoa, Hawaii, Mississippi

March 17

Caucuses in Missouri

March 18

Caucuses in Puerto Rico

March 19

Republican debate

A Republican presidential debate will be held in Oregon and broadcast through a media partnership of NPR, PBS and The Washington Times. Organizers have boasted the debate comes at a crucial time, just after Super Tuesday. It's also the last scheduled debate for Republicans.

March 20

Illinois primary

March 24

Louisiana Primary

April 3

Primaries in District of Columbia, Maryland, Texas, and Wisconsin

April 24

Primaries in Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island

May 8

Primaries in Indiana, North Carolina, and West Virginia

May 15

Primaries in Nebraska and Oregon

May 22

Primaries in Arkansas and Kentucky

June 5

Primaries in California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota

June 26

Utah primary

August 27 to 30

Republican National Convention

Republicans will kick off their presidential campaign with the official naming of the candidate in Tampa Bay, Fla.

September 3

Democratic National Convention

Democrats will re-nominate President Barack Obama in Charlotte, N.C.

October 3

First presidential debate

October marks the beginning of debate season for President Obama, his rival, and their respective running mates. The first in the series takes place at the University of Denver in Colorado.

The Commission on Presidential Debates, a bipartisan group that organizes the events, stated candidates must appear on enough state ballots to have a mathematical chance of winning the presidency and have at least 15 per cent support in the polls. This will almost certainly exclude all third-party candidates.

October 11

Vice-presidential debate

The first and only vice-presidential debate takes place at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky.

October 16

Second presidential debate

The second presidential debate takes place at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. This debate will use the familiar "town meeting" format, where presidential candidates are usually provided stools instead of podiums and take questions from a live audience.

October 22

Third presidential debate

The third and final presidential debate takes place at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida.

November 6

Election day

Americans vote on who will be the next U.S. president.

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