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March 15 marks the start of Republican primaries that will involve winner-take-all systems. Pundits are closely watching the races in Ohio and Florida, the home states of Gov. Kasich and Sen. Rubio. 

Credit: Alex Graves , , ,

Starting Tuesday, the United States 2016 presidential primaries enter uncharted territory: winner-take-all states.

Instead of awarding delegate votes proportionately, the GOP will begin the winner-take-all system, which means that whichever candidate wins the majority of the state will receive all of the delegates.

Five states and one territory will hold primaries with 361 total delegates up for grabs. The main focus is on Florida and Ohio, which offer the largest delegate prizes and are the home states of two Republican candidates, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Gov. John Kasich respectively.

So how will the winner-take-all system affect results on Tuesday? According to political science professor Marc Meredith, it may limit which candidates can effectively compete in certain states.

“I don’t think you’ll see John Kasich campaigning very much in Florida because he knows that no matter what he probably isn’t going to win in Florida,” he said.

In Ohio, Trump and Kasich remain close together in recent polls. Trump even cancelled a Florida event on Monday to campaign in Youngstown, Ohio.

One main concern of this system is that winner-take-all voting ignores candidates who receive a large number of votes, or are just short of the majority.

Only the Republican Party uses this system for certain states and forces winner-take-all states to wait until at least March 15 to hold their elections.

It makes it possible that “a candidate is able to amass [an] insurmountable number of delegates even if they are not winning a vast majority of the votes,” Meredith said. “A candidate could win a state with only 30-35 percent of the vote and the other candidates just below 25 percent.”

Rubio desperately needs a win in Florida to stay competitive, even his own student supporters admit.

“I think that Rubio has a good chance of beating [Sen. Ted] Cruz in Florida, although there [is] obviously a big Trump following,” former Chair of Students for Rubio and College sophomore Makayla Reynolds said. “Unfortunately I do have to say that it’s a good political move to drop out of the race, not even taking into account the standings of his primaries tomorrow.”

The senator trails Trump by double-digits in the most recent Florida polling.

The winner-take-all primary came into fashion as a way for the party to expedite the nomination process.

“There’s this tradeoff between wanting to make sure you don’t have a candidate winning all the delegates without winning a majority of voters supporting him or her, but also that you reach a decision eventually,” Meredith said.

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