Presidential Elections

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  • Presidential Elections
    • When do they happen?
      • Every four years on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November between November 2nd-8th
      • The VP is elected on the same day as are many other posts in Congress and in the States
      • If a President resigns or dies in office or is impeached then the VP takes over
        • Nixon resigned in 1974 to avoid impeachment and Ford took over
      • The President is elected in November of one year but does not take up his post until the January of the following year when he is 'sworn in'
    • Who can stand?
      • Legal/ Constitutional requierments
        • A natural born American citizen
        • 35 years of age
        • A US resident for 14 years
        • Cannot run after already serving two terms
      • Political requirements
        • Experience
          • Some important role in political life and be a 'public figure'
            • VP George Bush Snr. was Reagan's VP so decided to stand himself
            • Obama was a Senator for 3 years
            • A State Governor Bill Clinton Arkansas, Bush Jnr. Texas
            • No serious political background is rare Eisenhower had been the supreme military commander in WII
        • Republican or Democrat 'endorsement'
          • To stand a realistic chance you have to have chosen one of the big two parties
          • £rd or 4th candidates have no real chance
        • Personal attributes
          • Social (race and gender) and personal (behaviour and morality) characteristics can still be important
            • First time in 2008/12 a non white president was elected
            • Women are starting to get closer eg Hilary Clinton
            • Still an advantage to be a white male as all previous presidents have been so far
            • Personal misbehaviour can destroy a potential candidate, financial or sex scandals
              • 2012 Republican nomination race Newt Gingrich had 3 affairs even though one of his policies was family values
              • However, Clinton was still re elected after his affair with the intern Monica Lewinsky
        • Wealth
          • Modern campaigns cost millions of dollars and few individuals have the ability to pay for this themselves so they need to be able to raise money
          • The race starts over one year before the actual election so funds are vital
            • Obama raised $125 million in 2011 and Romney $56 million and they both ended up spending $1 billion each
        • Organisation
          • It is essential to create an effective campaign team and organisation which requires money and resources
            • Mitt Romney was able to defeat his opponents because his campaign organisation was far superior to those of his main rivals
        • Presentation
          • Look and sound the part today because the campaigns are dominated by TV
            • 1960 Nixon V Kennedy where Kennedy won on looks but Nixon won on speaking
            • Sound bites to get noticed and Barack Obama had a way of giving impressive speeches which helped him win
        • Policies
          • What a  candidate stands for or believes in is vital
            • Bill Clinton won his first campaign because he focused on what ordinary people were concerned with
            • Bush Jnr. won a second term because of his lead in the war on terror after 9/11
    • Voter Turnout
      • Between 1960 and 1980 there was a steady drop in the numbers voting eg in 1960 67% and in 1980 54.7%
      • Between 1980 and 1996 turnout increased slightly but then dropped to 51.4% in 1996
      • Then went up to 54.2% in 2000, 60.4% in 2004 62.3% in 2008 but dropped again to 58.2% in 2012
    • Where is the election decided?
      • The election is decided in a number of sing states which can go either way so candidates have to make sure they win here
        • Iowa, Ohio, Florida


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