By now, we’ve probably all heard how complex the United States Presidential Election process is. Full of delegates, electoral colleges and swing states, voting in the US is far from self-explanatory. This article will walk through the complex process.
The first thing to understand is that the United States has two main parties: the Democrats, or “left wing” politicians and the Republicans or the “right wing” politicians. (There are other parties, but rarely are discussed.) Each party will choose one presidential candidate in the primary elections. The primary elections for this year have already started (on February 1st in the state of Iowa). Each state has an allotted number of delegates based on their population size. These delegates act as votes for the primary hopefuls of either side.
Each candidate needs a certain number of delegates to win: a Democratic candidate needs 2,383 while a Republican candidate only needs 1,237 delegates. Although the first two states to vote are inconsequential (because of the small amount of delegates they have), it holds a huge impact on the election. More often than not, those who win big in Iowa and New Hampshire also win primaries for its kick starts the campaign of the politician.
Called “Super Tuesday” because a large majority of states vote on their primaries on this date, March 1, 2016 marked an important day in the 2016 Presidential election. March 15 (another important date), marks when half of all the delegates have already voted. By June 14, all the states have voted and the primary for each party will be decided. (PBS)
The primary will choose a vice president and the two opposing parties will continue to campaign until November 8, the date for voting for the new POTUS.
However, the individual votes casted will not directly determine the new president. Each state has a certain amount of electoral colleges (also dependant on the population of the state: for instance, California has 55 electoral colleges, while Maine only has three). Within each state, the candidate with the most votes will get all the electoral college votes for the entire state. This process is controversial, especially after the Bush vs. Gore presidential race in 2000, where Bush won by electoral colleges, but Gore won by popular vote.
Presidential hopefuls mainly campaign in the swing states. States such as California and Texas almost always will vote for a specific party (Democratic and Republican respectively), however, some states are not quite as black or white (or should I say blue or red). These states are the swing states, or states that are just as likely to vote Republican as they are Democratic and determine the winner of the election.
After all the electoral college votes are counted, the new president is determined and will be inaugurated on January, 20th of the following year. Then, in four years, the crazy process begins again, but may be slightly different. If the current president was only in for one term, they may choose to run again. This president, called an incumbent, generally runs unopposed (especially if they were popular). However, there are exceptions such as Reagan vs. Ford, Kennedy vs. Carter, and Buchanan vs. Bush. One might note, however, that in all of these cases, neither of the politicians won and the win went to the opposing party.
– Juyon Lee (’18)