States and parties can choose to run their presidential and state primary elections in different ways. In some cases, the structure of the state primary is incompatible with a presidential contest—like the Top Two system California uses for state primaries. In other cases, the difference may be because state law gives parties leeway in how to run presidential primaries, but not presidential primaries. However, these differences are not common.
- The presidential and state primary elections differ by type in 11 states.
- In 39 states, the two primary types match.
- In three of the 11 states that differ, presidential primaries are run by parties.
- In seven of the 11 states that differ, the statute governing the presidential primary is more restrictive as to who can participate than the one governing the state primary.
- In Michigan, the last of the 11 states that differ, presidential and state primaries are both open but have different privacy and disclosure rules.
Below is information on the state and presidential primary types for each of the 11 states where those elections differ, along with a brief description of the presidential primary type. For more information on state primaries, see NCSL’s webpage on State Primary Election Types.
This page is part of NCSL’s Toolkit for Primary Elections, which provides information on many different aspects of party nomination systems.