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The Skelly Twins Cliff Notes to the Primary/Caucus Season

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How do we elect our President?

Corrin and I both taught Government for several years and wanted to come up with a quick read explaining the primary/caucus season.  I think that most people understand what primaries are but they may not understand what a caucus is. 


How do we elect our President?

First the Republicans and Democrats have to come up with a candidate.  

Why can’t anyone who wants to run as a Republican or Democrat be on the ticket?

The Republicans and Democrats don’t want their votes to be split.  They need all of the support behind one candidate.  

How does each party decide who their candidate will be in the November election?

They hold eliminating contests (caucuses and primaries).  The individual who wins the most delegates will be the party’s nominee.  These are like mini elections.

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What is the difference between a caucus and a primary?

Some states hold primaries and other states  (13 and three territories) hold caucuses.

A primary is run by the state government.  It is a secret ballot type of voting.  Some states have open primaries where you can vote for either party.  Some states have closed primaries and you can only vote for the party that you are registered as.  If  you are registered as an Independent in these states, you do not get to participate in the primary process.  Some states have blanket primaries where they list all of the candidates on one list.   

A caucus is not run by the state government.  It is run by the political parties.  It is where there are very informal meetings at local levels.  These can be held at places such as a firehouse, school, or even a home.  This is a very open process where people know exactly how each other voted.  Sometimes it can be as simple as people raising their hands.  

Why is the Iowa Caucus so important?

It is the first in the caucus/primary season so it gets lots of media coverage.  New Hampshire is the first primary and also gets lots of media attention.



Why is this 2016 Presidential election so unique?

Normally by this time, we have a pretty good idea of who the party’s candidate will be.  That is not the case for this election. 

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What is Super Tuesday?

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It is March 1st and the biggest day of the primary season because 13 states and one territory (American Samoa) hold their primaries.  

What does this mean for the Democrat and Republican parties?

Both races (Republican and Democrat) are close between two or more people.  The three main candidates in the Republican party right now are Trump, Cruz, and Rubio.  After Super Tuesday, one of these candidates will probably drop out and it will be a two candidate race, just like the Democrats have with Sanders and Clinton.

Then what?

Before November, each party will hold a National Convention and formally announce their candidate. In a nutshell, the candidate that wins the most primaries and caucuses will be the party’s candidate…..

BUT…(of course there is always a but..) The superdelegates

The Democrats have something that the Republicans do not, superdelegates.  These are people who are important Democrat party leaders who are “rewarded” with the ability to cast their own vote at the Democratic National Convention.  There are 712 of these (15 % of the total) 4763.  These superdelegates could possibly change the outcome of the nomination.  Do you guys remember in 2008 when Hillary Clinton wouldn’t drop out because she said that she could still get the party’s nomination with the help of the superdelegate votes? Here is a great article if you would like more information on this topic.

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Stay tuned….for the Electoral College and the day of the Presidential Election.

My question for you is this: Did this mini tutorial help?


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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Pat Smith
    March 1, 2016 at 3:27 am

    Already voted but super delegates should be changed.

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