Last week, the eyes of the nation were on The Hawkeye State for the Iowa Caucus results. Being the first primary or caucus held in the nation, Iowa understandably draws a lot of attention as the rubber hits the road and helps determine which candidates are doing better than expected and which candidates should probably consider calling it quits.
But why are the following primaries in New Hampshire and South Carolina so important to the candidates?
NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY — TONIGHT
How it works: According to NJ.com, New Hampshire is not a closed primary, which means voters who have not declared a party can vote either Republican or Democrat. This allows undecided and unaffiliated voters to have a big say in which candidate wins. It's not an entirely open primary, though, because voters who register tonight with a party cannot vote for the other party's candidate.
Why it's important: Depending on the results, the New Hampshire primary can give a lot of fuel to Iowa's winner or launch one of Iowa's losing candidates back into front-runner status, drawing big support from wealthy Northeast donors. Like with Iowa, it's not uncommon for candidates who did not do well to drop out of the race after the New Hampshire results are out.
SOUTH CAROLINA PRIMARY — REPUBLICAN, SATURDAY, FEB. 20
How it works: Republicans vote on Feb. 20, and Democrats vote on Feb. 27. According to OpenPrimaries.org, South Carolina is an open primary, so both party-affiliated and non-affiliated voters can vote for either party's candidates. However, no voter is allowed to vote for a candidate in both parties.
Why it's important: South Carolina is seen as a primary that can weed out the candidates that unexpectedly had a big showing in Iowa and New Hampshire. Winthrop professor Dr. Karen Kedrowski told Fox 46 that she believes South Carolina's pick to be more accurate than Iowa's or New Hampshire's picks in matching the eventual presidential nominee. Kedrowski explained, "Since South Carolina has moved to an early primary starting in the early 1980's, it has only misfired or failed to accurately predict the nominee once and that was in 2012 [when Newt Gingrich beat out Mitt Romney]."