Will Trump-mania convince NJ voters to switch parties in the June primary?
New Jersey’s presidential primary doesn’t take place until June 7, but Wednesday, April 13th is the deadline for registered Democratic and Republican voters to change their party affiliation in order to vote in the other party's contest.
If you have ever voted in a primary as a registered Democrat or Republican, and you want to vote in the primary for a candidate in that party, then you don’t have to do anything.
If you're an unaffiliated voter, then you can show up at the polls on primary day and declare which party you'd like to vote in.
That might sound a bit confusing, but according to Montclair State University political science professor Brigid Harrison, this is all about political gamesmanship.
“You might see Democrats changing their political affiliation and voting for Trump, and they’d do this simply because they perceive Donald Trump as being the weaker candidate in a general election. Similarly Republicans may be switching and voting for Bernie Sanders,” she said.
But there’s another scenario being played out here as well.
“The anti-Trump faction is just so empowered at this point that lots of folks — Democrats, Republicans and many independents — are heeding the call to stop Trump,” she said. “What Democrats are doing is changing their registrations or registering as Republicans so they can either vote for Ted Cruz or Kasich. What we’re seeing is a lot of this anti-Trump sentiment manifesting itself in an attempt to deny him the nomination.”
Harrison said typically in a primary, it is loyal partisans who show up at the polls and vote for their favorite candidate, which is usually the party frontrunner. But this year, in a race characterized by political outsiders, we will see more gamesmanship than normal.
New Jersey's elected officials also are divided this presidential cycle.
“Obviously, we have Gov. Christie backing Mr. Trump in his bid, but if you talk to many rank-and-file republicans, particularly those on the county and municipal level who may be faced with the prospect of running in November, many of them are not enamored with the prospect of running with Mr. Trump,” she said.
If you want to change your political affiliation to be able to vote for or against a specific candidate in the June primary, you can download the form to do so by downloading the New Jersey Political Party Affiliation Declaration Form. The signed form must be delivered to your county superintendent of elections or the municipal clerk in the town you live by the end of the business day Wednesday.