Elections and Voting US - Government and Politics

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ELECTIONS AND VOTING
Presidential Elections Overview:
Occurrences
o Occurs every 4 years (Article II of the constitution)
o Occurs on the Tuesday after the first Monday in
November
o First one occurred in 1788
Can only be President if;
o You're a natural born US citizen
o You're 35 years old or over
o You've been a resident in the USA for at least 14
years
Special notices
o You can only serve 2 terms as President (22nd
amendment ­ first to feel the effects of this was
Eisenhower in 1960)
o If a President dies in office there is no special
election
Extra Constitutional Requirements
o Political Experience
Last person elected without having first being
a Senator, vice-president or state governor
was Dwight Eisenhower in 1952, who was a
World War Two general.
o Major Party Endorsement
3rd party or independent candidates do not get
to experience presidency
o Personal Characteristics
Until 2004 all candidates were white males,
there was only 16 women in the US senate.
However, all vice-presidents have been white
males.
One advantage is to be married ­ only
bachelor president was James Buchanan in
1957.
Scandals of infidelity until 1992 would take
out a presidential candidate when Bill Clinton
won despite rumors of cheating with Jennifer
Flowers
o Ability to raise large sums of money
Candidates need large amounts of money
even for primaries/caucuses. Hillary Clinton
raised just under $90 million in 2007.
o Effective Organisation
Candidates cannot use the party's
organizational structure. Creating their own
organisation is costly, time consuming and
demanding. Ultimately Obama won over

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Hillary Clinton in 2008 because he had
superior organisation.
o Oratorical skills and being Telegenic
Reagan is a key example as he was previously
a Hollywood actor.
o Sound and Relevant policies
Its not all style and no substance.…read more

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TV shows. Candidates
declare their intentions up to a year before the
primaries/caucuses.
Support for the candidates is demonstrated principally by opinion
polls. Sometimes these polls are inaccurate, as Hillary Clinton
found out in 2008.
Some events are not actually invisible, these include;
Televised debates
Traditional dinners
o Republicans ­ Ames Straw Poll in Iowa in year
before elections (fund raiser, with speeches and
polls that suggest winners and losers)
o Democrats ­ annual Jefferson-Jackson day dinner.…read more

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How to conduct the Primary? (some states have
experimented with postal voting and electronic voting)
Who can vote in the primary?
o Closed Primary ­ only registered Democrats can
vote in the Democratic Primary and only registered
Republicans can vote in the Republican Primary.
o Open Primary ­ allow any registered voter to decide
on the day of the primary whether they want to
vote in the Democratic or Republican Primary.…read more

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Weeding out candidates Lacks significant input from
without stamina to survive the professional politicians
election…read more

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Primary Reform
Primary system was reformed in 1968 under the McGovern-Fraser
Commission, as the original system was deemed undemocratic,
elitist, non-participatory and potentially corrupt.…read more

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However, this function has almost entirely been lost
to the primaries
o To win the presidential nomination a candidate
must receive an absolute majority of the votes from
the delegates
o In 2008, there were 4,418 delegates attending the
Democratic National Convention therefore Barack
Obama needed 2,210 votes
o If the votes do not give a obvious majority then
voting will continue, if this happens the delegates
become free agents and can vote for whoever they
want
o The convention merely confirms rather than chooses…read more

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Media can ruin a disunited party
Enthusing the party faithful
o Party faithful = the delegates
o It is important they are `enthused' because;
They are the people who will be carrying out
campaigns and state and local level
They need to communicate their enthusiasm
to ordinary voters
They need to believe they have the winning
ticket and policies
Enthusing ordinary voters
o As the ordinary voters are not at the Convention,
they will be enthused by the media coverage of the
presidential candidates acceptance…read more

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Many questions raised about how money for election
campaigns was being spent and the amount
Some Presidents, such as Nixon, formed ridiculous
committees in order to raise extortionate amounts
Nixon formed a re-election committee (CRP) and raised so
much money that Democrat George McGovern couldn't
compete
Watergate affair
`The Watergate scandal was a political scandal that occurred in the United States
in the 1970s as a result of the June 1972 break-in at the Democratic National
Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington,…read more

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There are only 2 national titles ­ USA Today and
The Wall Street Journal ­ however, there are local
papers that have national reputations ­ Washington
Post and New York times ­ what is most important
is what the columnists say on their opinions page
o `Weeklies' are important because they provide free
advertisement.…read more

Comments

Old Sir

A detailed and extensive set of notes, it also includes examples or case studies which students can research in greater depth in order to address assessment objective 2. Very useful.

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