Primaries to Conventions
Each political party goes through a process of selecting a nominee that will represent
the party in the general election. Parties hold a primary election in each state to determine that
state's choice for the national party nominee.
The first stage of a presidential campaign is the nomination campaign. At this time the
candidate is competing with other candidates in the same party, hoping to get the party's
nomination. The candidate works to win delegates --representatives who pledge to support the
candidate's nomination at the national party convention--and to persuade potential voters in
Primary elections are not held the same way in every state, and there are actually a
variety of ways in which the primary elections can work. There are two basic systems: the
caucus system and the primary elections. Caucuses and primaries are ways for the general
public to take part in nominating presidential candidates. Before the 20th century, only the party
leaders in each state could nominate presidential candidates.
At a caucus, local party members gather to nominate a candidate. A caucus is a lively
event at which party leaders and activists debate issues, consider candidates, choose
delegates, and discuss the party platform, or statement of principles. The rules governing
caucus procedures vary by state and party.
A primary is more like a general election. Voters go to the polls to cast their votes for a
presidential candidate (or delegates who will represent that candidate at the party convention).
These elections can be either open to all eligible voters in the state or closed only to registered
members of the party, depending on the state. Primary elections are the main way for voters to
choose a nominee. Is your primary open or closed?
The structure of primary elections differs from state to state, but their goal is the same:
To determine the state party's choice for the national candidate.
Most states require you to register to vote at least 30 days before an election.
The first caucus is held in Iowa, followed by the first primary in New Hampshire.
These elections are the first real test of public opinion and receive a great deal of
publicity from the media because the influence these primaries supposedly have on the
outcome of future races. A caucus does not include a popular vote; because it is not a true
public representation, the country closely follows the New Hampshire primary.
This it is the FIRST time individual voters go to the polls to make a choice for president. As a
result, a number of other states have tried to bring forward their primaries, but the biggest
contender to New Hampshire in terms of importance has been the decision by 21, mostly
primaries to conventions
Southern, states to hold their primaries on the same day, in what has become known as "Super
Tuesday," held on the second Tuesday of March in a general election year.
After the primaries, each party holds a national convention. Each state is represented by
delegates. The main purpose of a national party convention is to unify party members behind
the party's platform and to nominate candidates for president and vice president.
At each convention, after a credentials committee seats the delegates, a permanent chairman is
elected. The convention then votes on a platform, drawn up by the platform committee.
By the third or fourth day, presidential nominations begin. The chairman calls the roll of states
alphabetically. A state may place a candidate in nomination or yield to another state.
Voting proceeds again by an alphabetical roll call of the states after all nominations have been
made and seconded. A simple majority is required in each party, although this may involve
many ballots. The process of awarding the delegates is quite complicated. In most cases,
delegates cast their vote for the candidate that their state voted for in their primary, but they are
not required to. The candidate who has majority support amongst the delegates at the national
convention wins the party's backing for the presidential nomination.
Every state divides itself into smaller territories known as districts. Political parties situate
themselves in every district in America. These smaller groups elect officials known as delegates
to represent the district during a national convention.
A political party forms a platform to showcase the issues that they feel the American people
should care most about. Platforms tend to highlight the policies and beliefs of those candidates
who win or can substantially prove that they have a large following.
A majority vote means to retain at least 51% of the votes counted.
This occurs when there is not a clear majority winner. The winner is chosen through
percentages of the popular vote.
primaries to conventions
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