The US Electoral Process


The Electoral Process:


  • Step 1: Self-nomination

    • Candidates announce they are running for president approx 2 years before the election

    • Will setup “exploratory committees” to see if they have a chance, are popular, or will receive money/funding

  • Step 2: Campaigning to win Party Nomination

    • Invisible Primaries: Candidates begin to drop out before formal primary season, played out mainly in media, important for fundraising

    • Candidates try to win votes in different states and win primaries/caucuses

    • States either use Primaries or Caucuses

    • Primaries:

      • Private voting open all day long, vote for one candidate, 1 round of voting

      • Open Primaries: ‘crossover voting’, anyone can vote in any primary, don’t need to be a registered supporter of the party, encourages tactical voting. Eg. 2000 primaries - large numbers of independents and Democrats voted in Republican Primaries for McCain

      • Closed Primaries: only registered party supporters can vote in their party’s primary

      • Semi-closed Primaries: only registered supporters and and independents can vote for candidates. Can see who independents are more likely to vote for in the actually Presidential election

      • 1950s/60s: most states didn’t hold primaries - candidates chosen by State Party Conventions -> undemocratic, corrupt, elitist

    • Caucuses: set of meetings at local,county, and state levels where party delegates choose a candidate. Public voting at a specific time.

      • Typically held in smaller rural states eg. Iowa

      • Multiple rounds of voting and debates - all day

      • Public voting at specific times

    • Iowa is the 1st state to hold a Caucus - holds its first round of voting before New Hampshire holds its primary

    • New Hampshire is the 1st state to hold its Primary

    • Front Loading: tendency of state parties increasingly moving their primaries to the beginning/earlier to increase democratic choice - try and make their state primary more important

    • Super Tuesday: Tuesday in March when a number of states hold their primaries at the same time -


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