Manhattan Caucus: What to Know About the Primary Elections 

By Maria Thomas, Senior Writer

Primary elections have begun nationwide, with the earliest race being on March 1 in Texas. The majority of primaries will take place in June and August. The final primary elections are on September 13 and involve multiple states.

Primary elections are used to establish which individuals will be on the general election ballot in November, and involve candidates pertaining to congressional, gubernatorial, legislative and statewide offices. Primaries may be closed elections (partisan), meaning only voters who have declared a party affiliation can participate, or they can be open (nonpartisan); open primaries allow all voters to participate, without choosing a party. 

Additionally, primaries may be direct or indirect. A direct primary, which is used by almost all states, is a preliminary election where voters select their party’s candidates. Conversely, an indirect primary asks voters to elect a delegate, who will ultimately select the party’s candidates at a nominating convention. 

In the case of the 2022 election, Steve Shepard, the Chief Election Reporter at POLITICO, predicts that both the Senate and the House will be overturned by the GOP. Out of the many primary races occurring in the upcoming months, some involve “battleground states,” where the candidates elected are less predictable, and the party favor could go either way.

Currently, Democrats hold 221 House seats — with the line for majority at 218 — and Republicans have 209 (there are five vacancies). According to Shepard, “The most vulnerable GOP incumbent in the country might be Rep. Mike Garcia, whose district north of Los Angeles voted for President Joe Biden by 13 points.”

Additionally, Iowa’s 3rd district is one to watch: Democratic Rep. Cynthia Axne made it through the 2020 election when the majority of her constituents voted for Trump, but she will face the same challenges, if not magnified, in the 2022 election.

Other districts with unpredictable outcomes or where an opposing party might take hold of a seat are Maine’s 2nd District, Michigan’s 7th District, Nebraska’s 2nd District, Ohio’s 1st District, Pennsylvania’s 7th District, Texas’s 15th District, and Virginia’s 7th District.  

In the Senate, Democrats currently hold a narrow five-seat majority, with 35 seats up for election in 2022, and 21 of those seats currently held by Republicans. 

For the GOP, there are four swing states being focused on: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and New Hampshire. In the case of Arizona, multiple Republican candidates are expected to face off against the Democratic incumbent, Sen. Mark Kelly. In Wisconsin, which was the most closely divided state of the 2020 election, Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock (who won his spot in a 2021 special election) will face off against Trump’s recruited pick, Republican Herschel Walker. 

For Democrats, there are two main target states: Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. 

Pennsylvania has raised national attention for its colorful candidates in this year’s race. Republican Sen. Pat Toomey is stepping down, and the two main Republican candidates hoping to fill his spot are Dave McCormick and Mehmet Oz, of the popular show Dr. Oz; both men are self-funded.

For Democrats, it is between Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, Rep. Conor Lamb and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta. Of the three, Fetterman has garnered a great deal of attention for his casual style of dress and his drive to make politics approachable. In his POLITICO report, Shepard wrote, “Pennsylvania is one of only two states in which the GOP is defending a Senate seat where President Joe Biden won in 2020.”

Almost all primary elections occur in even years, however in five states — Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, Kentucky and Virginia — elections for state officials are held in odd-numbered years. This is mainly because these states have decided elections for federal positions and statewide positions should be separate. The result of having separate elections, however, has been less voter turnout in statewide elections and more money spent on the “cost of training staff, maintaining equipment, and adjusting to state code or procedural changes,” according to Rachel Nelson of Reader’s Digest.

New York State’s primary election date is June 28, and the filing deadline was April 7. This race could fill the seat held by Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer, who first took office in 1999 and is running for reelection. 

Useful information on the primary elections can be found at Ballotpedia.org, an online encyclopedia of American Politics. Additionally, POLITICO offers a useful breakdown of each state and district race. For details pertaining to your registered state’s election, visit your state’s official election website. 

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