Skip to main content

What is a primary? What is a caucus?

American presidential elections follow a fixed timetable in a system that has its origins in the American Constitution.
Party primaries or in some cases caucuses begin in the January of the election year. Both major parties (Democrat and Republican) go through this process, unless their candidate is uncontested (as is usually the case with a sitting president). 

Why are their party conventions?

From the primary/caucus each state party nominates delegates to their respective party conventions in July. It is at the conventions that the presidential candidates are formally nominated.

To become the nominated candidate you need to achieve a majority at the convention. Where no majority is possible there can be a 'brokered convention' where the part proposes a compromise candidate.

What is the difference between a primary & a caucus?

Caucuses are organised by parties but primaries are mini elections run by the states. They all have different regulations and traditions. The first primary is always held in New Hampshire but the Iowa Caucus happens a week before.

Participating in the Iowa Caucus famously requires a high level of commitment. Iowans need to travel to public meetings in school gyms, arts centres, churches, libraries, restaurants and even fire stations in 1,681 precincts to vote for a candidate. Voting can take several hours -- and involves 'retail politics'. The respective campaigns directly interact with voters before they cast their ballots. 

For the Democrats there is no secret ballot - voting is on the 'show of hands' principle

Who can vote in the primaries?

There is not a party membership system in the US - but voters can register as Republican or Democrat. Non registered voters are called independent. Some primaries are open - which means that a Democrat could vote in the selection of the Republican candidate and vice versa


Popular posts from this blog

Which countries do not have an official language?

According to Henry Hitchings Language Wars (2011) these nations do not currently have an official primary language:

Why is English not the official language of England?

58 countries list English as an official language - but not the UK. 

What is 'concept creep'?

Concept creep a term coined to describe 'psychology's expanding concepts of harm and pathology'. 
by applying concepts of abuse, bullying, and trauma to less severe and clearly defined actions and events, and by increasingly including subjective elements into them, concept creep may release a flood of unjustified accusations and litigation, as well as excessive and disproportionate enforcement regimes.   The concepts of abuse, bullying, trauma, mental disorder, addiction, and prejudice ... {have been subjected to historical changes}. In each case, the concept's boundary has stretched and its meaning has dilated. SourceThis trend towards a very broad definition of what constitutes 'harm' has been particularly pronounced on university campuses in the USA and - to a lesser extent - in the UK.

See Conor Friedersdorf's Atlantic essay, 'How Americans Became So Sensitive to Harm'

Download English FAQ Teaching Pack for only £1.99