Is The Montana Primary Winner Take All? The Treasure State Has Different Rules For Each Party
After over a year of campaigning, polling, and voting, Tuesday marks the final primaries of the 2016 election cycle. California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, and South Dakota will each hold their elections to award the last remaining delegates to the presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and finally end the feud between the dueling Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. With the stakes this high, it's important to understand the rules behind the elections and how the nuances of each contest will affect the race in general. Is the Montana primary winner take all? As usual, the answer is different for both parties.
Democrats really don't have winner take all primaries. The party generally chooses to award delegates proportionately by the statewide and district-level results of the election. The proportional division of delegates is part of the reason that the fight for the nomination is still ongoing — because the margins between Clinton and Sanders have been so close in nearly every primary thus far, the delegate race has extended all the way up until the last primaries of the season. Montana will follow that vein on Tuesday and award its 21 pledged delegates proportionately on a district-level. There aren't any major polls out for Montana, so it'll be something of a surprise as to who comes out on top for the Democrats. Sanders has reigned in other states in the region, including Idaho and Wyoming, so there's a strong chance that Sanders will snag the majority of the delegates.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Republicans do feature some winner take all elections, but Montana is one of only a few states to utilize the system. It won't matter much in this primary, as Donald Trump is the only remaining candidate in the race and has already locked down the nomination, but Montanans could still potentially rally around another candidate. Ted Cruz did well in regionally and ideologically similar states like Oklahoma and Idaho, and almost made a comeback in the Nebraska primary even after he had stopped campaigning. Granted, a show of support for Cruz in Montana wouldn't mean much, but it would be a pretty powerful message from the Republican base.
Montanans are among the last Americans to head to the polls in primary season, so the weight of their votes is critical to predicting the outcome of the general election in the fall. Although Montana will only award a relatively small number of delegates, the importance of the Montana primary goes well beyond June 7.