Shifting Electoral Focus Stands Out in 2016 Race

Later states are still in play for this presidential race.

— -- This presidential election stands out for many reasons, but one unexpected deviation is how it has changed the way the campaigns have mapped out their course.

Prioritizing some later states in this election -- like New York earlier this month and Indiana next Tuesday -- comes as a confluence of factors have changed the game.

It’s unfair to call these later primaries "battlegrounds ... any more than they ever were," but their role in the race has shifted, Georgetown University associate professor Hans Noel said.

"What is different is just that these states matter, because the contest isn’t settled,” Noel said.

"In a typical year, the party would be behind the front-runner, and anyone opposing the front-runner would have converted or at least stepped aside by now."

In addition to Sanders' narrative being "so entertaining" and his supporters being "very committed," Noel explained, it has forced Clinton's hand and made her still devote attention to the primary at a time when she may have wanted to shift toward the general election by now.

For some states, the change in emphasis was intentional.

New York political leaders worked to change their state primary so it was held on a day with no others, as it had been previously.

"It was really done as a way to encourage the candidates to come campaign here," New York Republican State Committee spokeswoman Jessica Proud told ABC News. "New York is a very large, diverse state and, typically, candidates were coming into New York City to raise money rather than campaign around the state."

Others have become a focus of attention as a result of the length of the campaign itself, and the refusal by some to coalesce behind one candidate.

James Campbell, a professor of political science at the University at Buffalo, said the "very crowded" Republican field played a part.

"Supporters of the other candidates in the crowded field were likely to cling to their favored candidate longer than usual because they regarded a move to the front-runner unacceptable," Campbell said.

"In effect, this limited any bandwagon effect that we might have otherwise seen for a more broadly acceptable front-runner."