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Why Do Primaries Matter?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at USF chapter.

To say the 2016 race to the White House has been a whirlwind is an understatement. It seems like there’s a new headline every day about the latest outrageous, bigoted thing Trump said. In the midst of all that noise, there’s been some actual election coverage too. You’ve probably heard a lot about who is winning the primaries so far, and it may seem like the Republican and Democratic candidates are already decided. Many believe the votes of states with later primaries—like Florida—don’t matter as much, but that couldn’t be less true.

Here’s the deal: to win the Republican nomination for the presidency, a candidate needs to win 1,237 delegates. If Trump wins Florida and Ohio, which are both up in the air, he will have a much easier road to the GOP nomination. Since Florida is a winner-take-all state for the Republicans, Trump would take all 99 of Florida’s GOP delegates. However, if someone like Rubio or Cruz wins Florida, it’s likely that no GOP candidate will be able to win the necessary 1,237 delegates to win the party’s nomination. What happens then? Chaos. If you think the Republican primaries are a circus now, just wait to see what happens in the event of a brokered convention. Basically, Republican Party elites would get to decide the party’s candidate. If that happens, it’s probably a safe bet to say the party leaders would not choose Trump, especially after Mitt Romney’s takedown of the former NBC Reality Star.  


Now, let’s turn our attention to the Democrats, who need 2,383 delegates to win their party’s nomination. As of last Tuesday’s primaries, Clinton is in the lead with 1,223 of the 2,968 available Democratic delegates, while Sanders has 547 delegates. It’s important to keep in mind the two candidates are actually much closer when only comparing pledged delegates, who are decided based on popular vote. (Yes, that means there are certain delegates called “Superdelegates” who are allowed to choose any candidate they want regardless of popular vote. It’s messed up, but that’s for another conversation.) Unlike the Republicans, the Democratic Party uses the proportional method for primaries, which means every single vote will count towards the 246 delegates that will likely be split up in Florida.

The writing is not yet on the wall, collegiettes. Florida has always been a huge deciding factor in primary and general elections. If you’re a Republican and Trump’s hateful remarks towards women, minorities, and basically everyone else terrifies you, do something about it! If you’re a Democrat who’s #FeelingtheBern, you can help give Sanders the boost he needs. There are a lot of problems with our election process, and it’s easy to see how someone could become apathetic towards politics, but the system works best when we all participate. Your voice counts, collegiettes. On March 15th, make it heard.  






Third year Communication student. Pop culture junkie. Currently trying to figure out how to make a living out of watching too much Reality TV. Taking things one day at a time.
Student at the University of South Florida. Sister and Corresponding Secretary of Gamma Phi Beta. Artist, writer, and animal lover.