Every South Carolina resident needs to mark February 28th 2012 on their calendars. Besides being the 302nd anniversary of The Battle Helsingborg, it is also the date of the South Carolina Republican Primary. A primary is an election held by the political parties to determine who the party will run on their presidential ticket. These serve as a testing ground for candidates, giving them election experience before the main election. While turnout is lower than the main election, primaries are used to get the base of a party excited about an election.
Unlike the general election, these elections don’t have one date. Different states have their primaries on different dates. Delegates are sent to the party’s convention based on how they do in these primaries. The method of choosing how many delegates come from a state is based on a complex formula chosen by each party. The number of delegates a state send are determined by factors such as state size, how the state voted in previous elections, and how many elected officials of the party that state has in its government.
The method of choosing the date varies from state to state as well. Few things are set in stone when it comes to primaries. The first states are traditionally, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and then South Carolina. These elections are o February 6th, 14th, 18th, and 28th, respectively. Iowa, by state law, has to go first. Also by law, New Hampshire’s primary can’t be more than a week behind Iowa’s primary. The other 46 states are supposed to wait until after Super Tuesday which is March 6th this year. Much of the order of the states rests on gentleman agreements between states.
The only enforcers of this are the parties themselves. Sometimes a state decides to go before Super Tuesday. This usually results in the party punishing the amount of delegates a state can send to the primary, generally by halving. A state however may choose to do this to increase its importance in the primary. The general wisdom of primaries is the earlier a state is in the primary, the more say they have in the election. Therefore a state may see the increased attention worth the loss of delegates.
With this in mind, one can see the importance of the South Carolina Primary. It is an early primary and is generally a Republic stronghold. In addition, in every election since 1980 the winner of the South Carolina Primary has won the Republican nomination. Therefore get out there and vote. If you want to register to vote go to South Carolina’s election commission website here; http://www.scvotes.org. Not a Republican? No problem. South Carolina has an open primary. While some may see it as bad sport, voting for a weaker candidate is allowed. You have a voice, use it!