Elections and voting - presidential elections

A2 government and politics 3C US revision sheet

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  • Created on: 09-06-11 19:02
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Elections and voting ­ presidential
Stage Functions Occurs
Primaries and caucuses Show popular support for candidates January ­ early June
Choose delegates to attend National
Party Conventions
National Party Conventions Choose presidential candidate August/September (each last about
Choose vice presidential candidate 4 days)
Decide on party platform
General election campaign Campaign between the candidates September, October and first week
of various parties of November
Election Day and Electoral College Elect the president and the vice Federal law states the election shall
president be held on the Tuesday after the
first Monday in November of every
4th year
Requirements for presidential candidate
Constitutional requirements:
Natural born American citizen
At least 35 years old
Residency qualification of 14 years
1951 ­ limited president to 2 terms
Extra qualifications
Political experience ­ presidents come from the pools of recruitment (vice presidents, senators,
house representatives). This however is not always the case as Obama hadn't even served a full term
in the Senate, his ticket balanced him out because Biden had served almost over 36 years. For
example Newt Gingrich who is a current Republican candidate was the former speaker of the House
and a member of the House of Representatives. However political experience is not only factor as
shown by how Hilary Clinton with her 7 years as first lady and 8 years in the Senate was beaten by
Obama who only had 3 years in the Senate
Major party endorsement ­ no candidate from a third party has ever gained any substantial votes
Personal characteristics ­ good if you're married. The only president who was a president that was
not married was James Buchanan
Ability to raise large sums of money ­ Obama used the internet to raise donations. In 2007 Clinton
raised $90 million, Obama raised over $70 million and McCain raised $28 million. However by 2008
Obama had raised a further $63.3 million. Only a few very wealthy independents can fund their own
money ­ Ross Perot and Steve Forbes
Effective organisation ­ Bob Dole lost the election because of his poor organisation and Obama won
his candidacy due to his strong organisation
Oratorical skills and telegenic
Sound and relevant policies ­ candidate must have policies that are both practical and relevant
Primaries and caucuses
Invisible primary ­ the period between candidates declaring an intention to run fort eh presidency and
the first contests of the primary season. The invisible primary is said to be critically important for a
candidate to gain recognition and money, and to put together the necessary organisation. There is often

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Serious candidates may get publicity in newspapers and weeklies such as Time, Washington Post
Support is shown in opinion polls- in 2007 they ran head to head match ups which showed Clinton to be
the most electable candidate
Some formal events occur ­ between 26 April 2007 and the end of the year there were 16 televised
debates between would be Democratic presidential candidates and 12 debates between the Republican
candidates
Traditional Iowa Straw Poll held in August of the year before the election
Presidential…read more

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There are also modified primaries which are like closed primaries but registered independents can vote in either
party primary. For example, in the New Jersey primary in 2008, registered Republicans could vote in the
Republican primary, registered Democrats could vote in the Democrat primary and independents could vote in
either
Primaries can be classified according to how the delegate wins:
Proportional primaries ­ candidates are awarded delegates in proportion to the votes they get.…read more

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Widespread voter apathy and boredom ­ in a year where the incumbent the president is running for re
election and therefore only one party has a genuine nomination contest, turnout in elections is only 17%
Primary voters are unrepresentative of the voting age population ­ primary voters tend to be older, more
educated
Process is far too long ­ Obama announced his candidacy 332 days before the first primary
The process is very expensive ­ in the 2000 primaries, Al Gore raised $33.…read more

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National Party Conventions
The meeting held once every 4 years by each of the major and some minor parties to select their
presidential and vice presidential candidates and write a party platform
Each evening of a convention will have a theme and a prime-time speaker.…read more

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Limited candidates expenditure to $10 million in the primaries and a further $20 million in the general
election which are index linked to inflation
Provided matching funds from federal tax-payers on a dollar to dollar basis for contributions up to $250
Established the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to enforce and regulate the new system
In 1976 in Buckley v.…read more

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McCain suffered in 2008 from the perceived negativity in his campaign with 31% feeling he had been
explaining and 61% thought he had been attacking.…read more

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Why Obama won in 2008
The two term itch
Only twice since the Civil war have Americans elected a president from the same party as a president
who has completed two full terms one being in 1988 when George H W Bush followed Reagan
George W Bush
George W Bush became extremely unpopular after the Iraq war turned sour and his ratings fell to 27%
by Election Day.…read more

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Criticisms of the Electoral College system
Small states are over represented
By 2004 California had 55 Electoral College votes representing its 34 million inhabitants, Wyoming had three
Electoral votes representing its half a million inhabitants
Therefore in California there is one electoral college vote for 617,000 people and Wyoming receives one
electoral college cote for every 165,000
Winner-takes-all system distorts the results
In 1996 Bill Clinton won only 49% of the popular vote, yet he won over 70% of the Electoral College votes.…read more

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