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Iranian-American Influence on the Presidential Primaries

By Babak Talebi, NIAC


NIAC Series: Reflections on Iranian-American Political Influence


Iranian Americans have a tremendous opportunity to impact the outcome of the 2008 Presidential elections. The key to wielding influence far greater than ones actual numbers is to vote in the primaries, particularly on 'Super Duper Tuesday,' February 5. With the support of PARSA Community Foundation, NIAC will be publishing a series of columns expounding on how the electoral process functions, how individuals can impact the process, and how the Iranian-American community as a whole make its mark on the 2008 elections.


Delegates and Party Conventions


Each political party officially nominates their candidate at their national convention in late summer (respectively located in Denver and Minneapolis for the Democratic and Republican parties). At the national convention, thousands of delegates representing each of the 50 states, territories, and high ranking party officials will cast their votes to confirm their party's nominee. The vast majority of the delegates are chosen during the primary elections and caucuses held in each state starting in January.


Until the 1960s, the nominees would often not be confirmed until the convention, but in the modern era, the nominees are forgone conclusions months before the official convention date as it becomes clear which candidates have won the most primaries and thus the highest number of voting delegates.


The Power of the Early Primaries


Though it would seem logical to conclude that the largest states with the most delegates would have the biggest impact on choosing the party nominees, the fact is that traditionally, the early voting states (Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina in particular) holding primaries in January have had an enormous impact on determining the nominees and the direction of their politics.


For example in 2004, Senator John Kerry who was polling 2nd or 3rd before he won the Iowa caucus, used his momentum from Iowa and New Hampshire to win in every state but three. A recent Brown University report has shown that early state voters "have up to 20 times the influence of voters in later states." The main reason being momentum and media attention generated from the early victories.

To participate in the primaries, the voter has to be a citizen of the US, at least 18 years of age by November 4, 2008, and they must be registered to vote in their state of residence. Each state sets its own rules regarding registration deadlines and other election rules that can be found on their respective 'Secretary of State' websites.

... Payvand News - 01/15/08 ... --

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