News / USA

Primary Balloting Sets Stage for US Presidential Election

The political process in the United States to pick the candidates to run for president is a long one, and the next stop is the primary election in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire.  On January 10, the state holds the campaign's first regular primary after the opening caucuses in Iowa.  Primary elections set the stage for the November, 2012 showdown between the Democratic and Republican parties.

New Hampshire is small in size and population, but when the state votes, it commands the attention of the entire nation.  And, the results reverberate all the way to the White House.

In most states, voters registered with a political party can only vote for that party's candidates.  But in some states, such as New Hampshire, voters not registered with a party are allowed to take part.

Candice Nelson is an elections expert.

"The purpose of the primary season is to enable candidates to introduce themselves to the voters, to let the voters get to know the candidates, to think about the candidates over the course of three or four months," said Nelson.

Candidates have always campaigned person-to-person in what pundits call retail politics.  They go from town to town shaking hands, attending rallies, and other means of contacting the electorate.  And, the candidates use these contacts to try out their issue positions with voters.  Iowa State University political scientist Steffen Schmidt.

“It’s like a stage, or it’s like a convention center where the candidates come and they try to sell their wares," said Schmidt.  "And, you know, we let them do that.  The ones who sell a lot of their wares go on.”

Candidates are sellers, and voters are buyers.  People who go to political events such as campaign rallies not only want a handshake, but also want their concerns addressed.

“They go to these events," said Associated Press political reporter Phil Elliott.  "They pack the coffee shops.  They wait for hours to meet the candidates and ask them very serious and substantive questions.”

The traditional three- or four-month period of states holding primaries and caucuses has been shrinking in recent presidential elections, as states schedule earlier and earlier in hopes of gaining greater visibility and power in determining the party's presidential nominee.  Some people have proposed that all states conduct their primaries or caucuses on the same day.

"The main advantage of a national primary is that the voters, the votes from individuals across the nation, would count equally toward choosing the presidential candidates," noted Mark Rom, a political scientist at Georgetown University.  "That would be a good thing.  The bad thing about a national primary is [that] it would give special advantages to those [candidates] who have raised the most money, and those who have the highest popularity when the race starts."

In primary elections and caucuses, a vote cast for a presidential candidate is actually a vote for that candidate's delegates to his or her political party's national convention, which takes place about two months before the final vote.  The candidate with the greatest number of delegates overall becomes that party's presidential nominee in the November 2012 general election that leads to the White House.


Jeffrey Young

Jeffrey Young came to the “Corruption” beat after years of doing news analysis, primarily on global strategic issues such as nuclear proliferation.  During most of 2013, he was on special assignment in Baghdad and elsewhere with the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR).  Previous VOA activities include VOA-TV, where he created the “How America Works” and “How America Elects” series, and the “Focus” news analysis unit.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid