Rutgers Political Science chair discusses importance of New Jersey primary


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Photo by Michael Makmur |

The New Jersey primary on June 7 may have significant influence on the Republican candidate for president, with the winner receiving 51 delegates towards their nomination.


As primary season approaches its final stage, both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates face a degree of uncertainty heading into their national party conventions.

Although leading their respective delegate races, former Secratary of State Hillary Clinton and Republican frontrunner Donald Trump currently do not have the delegates required to receive their party’s nomination outright. 

If this is still the case after primary voting concludes, “brokered” conventions could occur.

If no candidate has a majority of delegates, then more than one round of delegate voting could take place in the corresponding convention, said Richard Lau, chair of the Department of Political Science. 

This outcome is more likely to happen to the Republicans this election year, he said

“I think that Hillary (Clinton) is pretty comfortably going to the win the Democratic nomination,” he said. “I think she will go into the convention with a clear majority (of delegates).”

Clinton currently has 1,663 pledged delegates and needs a total of 2,383 to clinch the Democratic nomination. Trump, on the other hand, needs 283 more delegates, having 954 of the required 1,237 up to date, according to the New York Times

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) has 1,367 delegates toward the Democratic nomination, while Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) has 547 and Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) has 153.

Adding to Clinton’s lead over Sanders is the 520 “super delegates” that have vowed support, compared to only 39 who have turned to the Sanders.

Super delegates tend to be elected party officials — like senators, governors and state legislators, Lau said. They have the same “one vote” power of normal delegates but can change their support for candidates at any time.

In the convention’s first round of voting, most delegates are bound to support a particular candidate, but in the subsequent rounds — which take place if no majority is achieved initially — many of them can switch allegiance, Lau said.

In United States history there have been “conventions with 30 (rounds of) ballots,” he said.

This particular scenario when more than one round of delegate voting occurs is commonly called a “brokered” convention. Party delegates and political elites “broker” — or negotiate — pacts with candidates for support in exchange of political favors.

“Then you know, (in) the smoke-filled rooms, the power brokers go by. Someone will say, ‘I’ll throw my delegates to you, but then I get to be the vice president,’” Lau said.

This year’s Republican National Convention will be held in Cleveland, Ohio, from July 18-21, and the Democratic Party will host its national convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from July 25-28.

Because of the nature of this year’s presidential election, the primary contests in New Jersey, which are usually trivial, could finally have genuine ramifications on the nominations, especially on the Republican side, Lau said.

With their primaries scheduled for June 7, New Jersey, California, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota and North Dakota, which will only have a Democratic caucus, are the last states to vote before the conventions. Only the District of Columbia will vote after the states, with its Democratic primary on June 14.

In the Garden State, there are 142 delegates to allocate for Democrats and 51 for Republicans — with the G.O.P. winner awarded all delegates. Both primaries are closed, meaning that you can only cast a ballot for a candidate from your affiliated party.

Prospective voters must register by May 17 using a form provided by the N.J. Department of State. Unaffiliated or undeclared registered voters, not to be confused with registered Independents, will be able to vote but must choose a party affiliation before or during primary election day.

Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), a strong ally of the Trump campaign, vowed to bring the billionaire candidate to the state around primary day.

Trump’s favorability among registered Republicans in the state surpassed the 50 percent threshold in April, according to a Rutgers-Eagleton poll. 

Support for the outspoken businessman stands at 52 percent, followed by Kasich at 24 percent and Cruz at 18 percent.

The same survey suggests that Clinton is likely to defeat Sanders in New Jersey. The former first lady is backed by 51 percent of state Democrats, while the Vermont senator’s support stands at 42 percent.

“It could very well come down to the June 7 primary,” Lau said. “I would be surprised if Trump has a majority when New Jersey (votes).”


Camilo Montoya-Galvez is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student majoring in Spanish and journalism and media studies. He is a correspondent for The Daily Targum. Follow him on Twitter @camiloooom.


Camilo Montoya-Galvez

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