COLUMBIA, S.C. — This Tuesday, Democrat and Republican seats are up for grabs in South Carolina.
"Primaries are very important because that's how we select the slate of candidates who will be representing us in the general election coming up in November in this case," Newberry College political science professor Dennis Lambries said. "From a primary perspective, one of the uniquenesses of South Carolina is we have an open primary system, so you don't have to be a registered democrat or republican. When you go in to register to vote you tell them which ballot you want."
These key races for governor, state education superintendent, first and seventh U.S. House district, and more are what everyone will have their eyes on.
"What we do in terms of important issues like climate, infrastructure, gun rights, abortion, any social issue, it's all decided by who we choose to be our representative," said University of South Carolina Professor Robert Oldendick
Right now, South Carolinians have a list of representative options to decide on. These are positions in state government that carry power - for example, the state education superintendent.
"With the state level, they go in and help underperforming schools, they help set policy for the schools, they can help, we know we just got a big influx of money to help improve the quality and the physical qualities of schools throughout South Carolina. They'll have a role in deciding who gets that money and how it's distributed," Lambries said.
Political science experts said oftentimes, incumbents have the advantage when it comes to name recognition, raising money, and showing proof of their success.
Experts suggest endorsements from other political leaders can also carry weight.
"Given the political climate and the polarization that’s taken place, this will be [South Carolina's] test of the value and the importance of an endorsement from former president Trump. As we’ve seen nationally, there’s been a mixed bag of the impact of his endorsements," Lambries said.
Lambries said the votes South Carolinians have this week allow them to narrow their options in the general election come November 2022.
"Decisions are made by those that show up and if you don't want to show up and vote then you have no role in the decisions that are being made, so whether it's a primary election, whether it's a municipal election, no matter what the election is, we have that right as American citizens and we need to encourage that right," Lambries said.
And turnout will be critical in deciding who wins.