California Primary plays significant role in 2020

RENO, Nev (KOLO) California's primary was traditionally held in June.

Even with its 415 pledged delegates at stake, the date of the Golden State's primary was poorly timed to where their delegates did not normally make or break a candidate.

Perhaps the most memorable primary, the night Democratic presidential candidate Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed after winning California in 1968.

In September of 2017, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill moving California's primary to March 2020, where it would be part of Super Tuesday.

“California made the decision,” says Fred Lokken, professor of political science at Truckee Meadows Community College. “For a while they toyed with trying to put themselves first because they had been so long at the end. But they settled most recently on Super Tuesday.”

This year California will play a significant role in just who wins the Democratic presidential nomination.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders has looked past Saturday's primary in South Carolina, and focused on California.

Sanders has the best ground game, says Lokken.

Lokken says other candidates who are struggling seem to have enough juice to push westward as well.

But it won't be easy.

There are 11 television markets in California, and at 163,000 square miles, and a population of nearly 40 million there is a lot of territory to cover.

And then there is the California voter.

“They have the ability to register and change party,” says Professor Lokken. “Under certain circumstances they can cast two ballots. And they can mail in. And these three things together have created what everyone anticipates will be a nightmare for California.”

While we don't know how many delegates each candidate will receive in the end, we do know we won't get the results for days.

Polls open at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, and close at 8 p.m.

Mail-in ballots can be dropped off personally or must be post marked March 3, 2020.

They must be received in the mail no later than March 6, 2020.

Those ballots went out February 3, 2020.

Copyright KOLO-TV 2020