US elections

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presidential elections

when presidential elections occur

  • fixed term elections that occur every 4 years
  • 1788- first presidential election
  • if the president dies in office there is no special election
  • laid down in article II of the constitution
  • federal law states that the election shall be held the Tuesday after the first Monday in November of every fourth year
  • elections occur between 2nd and 8th of november

requirements for a presidental candidate

constitutional requirements

  • must be a natural born american citizen
  • must be at least 35
  • 14 year residency qualification
  • 1951- constitution was amended to limit presidents to 2 terms in office

extra-constitutional requirements 

political experience

  • state governors and senators have tended to be good pools of recruitment for the presidency
  • 11/22 declared candidates for the republican and democratic presidential nominations in 2016 had served as state governors, 8 had served in the senate
  • 3 had no political experience
  • 2016- Trump became the 1st person to be elected president without any experience in politics or the military
  • 1968-2016- 10/19 people nominated as presidential candidates had served in the senate, 6 had been state governors, 6 had served as vice president
  • in the 2016 republican presidential nomination contest candidates with political experience were unable to defeat political novice Trump

major party endorsement

  • if someone is serious about becoming president it is vital to be chosen as the candidate for 1 of the 2 major parties
  • 1952- eisenhower had to become a republican
  • the endeavours of George Wallace, John Anderson, Ross Perot, Pat Buchanan and Gary Johnson show that third party or independent candidacies do not lead to the white house

personal characteristics

  • until 2008 all major party presidential candidates had been white males
  • 2016- Hillary Clinton became the 1st female major party presidential candidate
  • pools of recruitment are dominated by men
  • advantage to be married
  • 1856- James Buchanan is the only bachelor president
  • 1992- Bill Clinton managed to secure the democratic party's nomination despite allegations surrounding Gennifer Flowers
  • 3/8 republican presidential candidates had all divorced and remarried

ability to raise large sums of money

  • campaigns are so expensive that very few candidates have been able to finance their campaigns from their own pockets
  • candidates need to raise large sums of money before the primaries and caucuses begin
  • 2016- Hillary Clinton raised over $700 million during her unsuccessful White House bid

effective organisation

  • during the candidate selection process the major parties cannot endorce specific candidates
  • a candidate is running to become a party's presidential candidate so they cannot use the party's organisational structure
  • must create their own organisation
  • time consuming, expensive and demanding
  • candidates who fail to put together an effective organisation witll stumble badly during the campaign

oratorical skills and being telegenic

  • the abilities to speak well and look good on TV are crucial
  • 1984- democratic candidate Walter Mondale complained he was no good at TV
  • 1996- republican senator Phil Gramm declared he was too ugly to be president
  • 2016- Trump's mastery of the media was an important factor in his successful…

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