It's 2016, and the year of the US presidential election is now upon us.

So far, it's been an interesting, sometimes bumpy road for Republicans, with controversy aplenty and the largest number of candidates in American history vying for the nomination. Even big personalities like New Jersey's own Chris Christie are having a tough time getting their voices heard -- though some political analysts now think there's an outside chance he could finish second in the all-important New Hampshire primary.  If he gets that close, he could even have a shot at winning the nomination.

So with the horse race far from over, especially on the Republican side, here are a few key dates to keep in mind:

January 14:  The next Republican debate.  At that point, the main debate may only feature six candidates.  Will Christie be one of them?

January 17: The final Democratic debate before the first votes are cast in Iowa

January 28: The final GOP debate before the Iowa caucuses

February 1:  The Iowa caucuses

February 9: The New Hampshire primary

February 20:  The Nevada Democratic caucus

The South Carolina Republican primary

The Washington Republican caucus

February 23:  The Nevada Republican caucus

February 27:  The South Carolina Democratic primary

March 1: So-called 'Super Tuesday,' featuring more than a dozen caucuses and primaries.

But with so many variables in this race, one thing is certain: by March, Christie's position in the contest will be very different from what is now.  Still, as of January 2, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz were dominating the Republican field, with Christie running well behind.