The 2016 State of the Union will be by far the earliest delivered by President Barack Obama.
When Obama accepted Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s invitation to address Congress on Jan. 12, it beat out his earliest time by more than a week. Indeed, it will be the earliest a president has delivered a State of the Union address this century. Before this SOTU, the earliest Obama has spoken was this year, when he delivered his address on Jan. 20. In 2012, when he was running for re-election and Republicans faced a competitive primary season, Obama spoke on Jan. 24. In 2009, when he delivered remarks to a joint address of Congress after being sworn in to his first term (not technically a State of the Union address, because the responsibility for a SOTU falls on the outgoing president the year a new president is sworn in), he spoke on Feb. 24.
The day after the State of the Union address, House and Senate Republicans will decamp to Charm City for their annual joint retreat, on Jan. 13 and 14, at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront.
The political calendar may have contributed to the scheduling decision. The Iowa caucuses are Feb. 1, and New Hampshire’s primary is Feb. 9. South Carolina’s primary is Feb. 20, a Saturday preceded by a congressional recess.
In 2012, the calendar was scrunched earlier. Iowa’s GOP caucuses were on Jan. 3. New Hampshire’s primary was Jan. 10 and South Carolina was Jan. 21.
Here’s a list of dates for the 21st century’s SOTUs, courtesy of the American Presidency Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara:
2015, Obama: Jan. 20
2014, Obama: Jan. 28
2013, Obama: Feb. 12
2012, Obama: Jan. 24
2011, Obama: Jan. 25
2010, Obama: Jan. 27
2009, Obama (Not technically a SOTU): Feb. 24
2008, George W. Bush: Jan. 28
2007, Bush: Jan. 23
2006, Bush: Jan. 31
2005, Bush: Feb. 2
2004, Bush: Jan. 20
2003, Bush: Jan. 28
2002, Bush: Jan. 29
2001, Bush (Not technically a SOTU): Feb. 27
2000, Bill Clinton: Jan. 27.