Pro Republica: New Jersey should move its primary up

New Jersey should move up its Primary Elections.

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New Jersey should move up its Primary Elections.

As of this writing, voting in the 2020 presidential election has officially begun in Iowa – a state of just over 3 million people – as part of their “first-in-the-nation” caucuses. Before the month is over, voters in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada will go to the polls to determine the Democratic and Republican nominees for president to run in November.

Before New Jersey votes on June 2, only votes from Washington, DC, New Mexico, South Dakota, Montana, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico will be uncounted. By that time, President Donald Trump will have long since captured the Republican nomination for president (barring a miraculous performance from former-Massachussetts Governor Bill Weld), and the Democrats will likely have a presumptive nominee of their own.

What, then, is the point of voting in the primary at all? In fact, the last time New Jersey’s June primary was needed to settle the results of a Democratic primary, Walter Mondale was chosen to challenge then-incumbent President Ronald Reagan. That was 36 years ago. The last time the Republican nomination was in contention going into the New Jersey primaries was 1976, when President Ford barely staved off a challenge from, coincidentally, Ronald Reagan. That was 44 years ago.

So why not move our primaries? After all, California just did it. The answer that is most commonly given is that New Jersey would lose delegates, as California did when it moved its primaries up in the cycle. That said, if we have fewer delegates but matter in the grand scheme of the primary process, isn’t that a win? It would mean that New Jersey, a secure blue state in the general election, would have to receive some attention from presidential candidates.

Moving the date of the primaries is essential to ensuring the vote of New Jerseyans matter. After all, what’s the point of voting if the election is decided already?