How the primaries work

The primaries for the presidential nominations for both parties require a certain amount of strategy on the part of the delegates. A delegate is a person that the party selects to represent the voters; these delegates attend the national convention where they present the results of the primary from their state. Presidential candidates must focus on key states where they are sure to get the nomination and branch out from there in order to secure other states’ delegates. In order for a nominee to secure the presidential nomination, a Democrat must secure 2,025 votes, while a Republican must secure 1,191 votes.

For Republicans, the voting varies from state to state; some states are winner-take-all, and sometimes the delegates are proportionally divided. Winner-take-all simply means that a candidate with the most votes receives all the delegates. If the delegates are proportionally divided, the percentage of votes that a candidate receives determines how many delegates they get. The winner-take-all method favors the front-runner who will more than likely have the largest number of votes. However, proportional representation favors the other candidates who have a better chance to get a few delegates from each state.

For Democratic candidates, depending on the number of votes the candidates receive, the delegates are proportionately allocated. This rule was determined by the national Democratic Party.

The candidates in many cases focus on the winner-take-all states because they have the most to win and the most to lose in those states. Some candidates will choose not to campaign as forcefully in the winner-take-all states where they are sure to lose.

In terms of voters registered as independents, the rules for how they can vote in primaries vary from state to state. Depending on the state, both Republican and Democratic candidates must focus on independent voters because they can greatly help the candidates, depending on how they vote.

For the state of Pennsylvania, the primaries are closed, meaning that only people who are registered party members can be involved. New Jersey, however, allows independents to vote, but they must register as a member of the party they vote for at the polls.

New Jersey, New York and Delaware’s primaries were held on Feb. 5. Maryland’s are on Feb. 12, and Pennsylvania’s are on April 22.

Sources: New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and Dr. Kathy Lee, head of political science department.

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