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Primaries & Caucuses. Selecting a President:. Presidential Selection. Stage 1: Caucuses & Primaries The Battle for the Party Faithful Stage 2: Nominating Conventions “Glorified Infomercials?” Stage 3: General Election The Fight for the Center Stage 4: Electoral College

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Primaries & Caucuses

Selecting a President:

Presidential Selection

  • Stage 1: Caucuses & PrimariesThe Battle for the Party Faithful

  • Stage 2: Nominating Conventions“Glorified Infomercials?”

  • Stage 3: General Election

    The Fight for the Center

  • Stage 4: Electoral College

    Power to the People?

Stage 1: Caucuses

  • Closed meeting of party members in each state

  • Delegates select the party’s choice for presidential candidate

  • Currently, six states, including Nevada in 2008, offer party caucuses selecting presidential nominees.

Barrack Obama campaigns in Iowa

Stage 1: Primaries

Presidential Primary Elections - special elections in which voters select candidates to be the party’s nominee for president in the general election.

  • Primary Season - January - June

  • Who Decides? - State party organizations for the most part decide the rules for the primaries in a particular state.

  • Types of Primaries:

    • Closed Primaries

    • Open Primaries

Mitt Romney campaigning in New Hampshire

Closed Primary

  • Voters may vote in a party's primary only if they are registered members of that party

Open Primary

  • A registered voter may vote in any party primary regardless of his or her own party affiliation.

2008 Open & Closed Primaries

Map of 2008 Primary & Caucus Dates

Nominating Conventions

Selecting a President:

Presidential Selection

  • Stage 1: Caucuses & PrimariesThe Battle for the Party Faithful

  • Stage 2: Nominating Conventions“Glorified Infomercials?”

  • Stage 3: General Election

    The Fight for the Center

  • Stage 4: Electoral College

    Power to the People?

Barack and Michelle Obama at the 2004 Democratic National Convention

Presidential Nominating Conventions:The Nuts & Bolts

George W. and Laura Bush at the 2000 Republican Convention

Nominating Conventions

  • An assembly held by political parties every four years

  • Usually held in late summer before the general election in November

  • The Democratic and Republican parties hold nominating conventions as do third parties [ex: Green Party, Libertarian Party]

Purposes of Nominating Conventions

  • Delegates at the convention adopt a party platform.

  • Delegates to the convention elect that party’s nominees for President and Vice-president.

1980 Republican National Convention in Detroit, Michigan

What’s a Party Platform?

  • Party Platform - a statement of principles and objectives a political party and a candidate supports in order to win the general election.

  • Plank - Individual topics in a party’s platform (ex: abortion, war in Iraq)

Cartoon satirizing the 1896 Democratic Party Platform

Democratic Party:

“Strong at Home, Respected in the World”

Republican Party:

“A Safer World and a More Hopeful America”

2004 Platform Themes

How are these themes similar?


Who are Delegates?

Delegate -A voting representative to the party nominating convention

Proportional System

Primary system used by the Democratic Party

Candidates are allocated the same percentage of a state’s delegates as they received in popular votes

Pro’s & con’s of the proportional system?

Winner-take-all System

System used in most Republican primaries

The winner of the popular vote in that state receives all that state’s delegates

Pro’s & con’s of the winner-take-all system?

Delegate Selection

Democratic Party Rules:Two Types of Delegates

Pledged Delegates v. Superdelegates

Pledged Delegates

  • Each state allotted certain number of delegates who vote at the party’s convention

  • Pledged delegates are chosen at state & local level

  • Pledged delegates are required to cast a vote at the convention based on the results of the primary or caucus in their state

Pledged delegates count during the 2008 Democratic primaries


  • Members of the Democratic Party establishment who serve as unpledged delegates at the party convention

  • Include members of Congress, governors, and members of the D.N.C.

  • They are free to vote for any candidate at the convention

Brokered Convention

Democrats avoided a brokered convention in 2008

  • A situation in which no one candidate in a political party has received enough delegates in the primaries and caucuses to obtain a majority

  • After the first ballot at the party’s convention, nominee decided through horse-trading and further ballots

  • Thomas Dewey (R) in 1948 and Adlai Stevenson (D) in 1952 last two candidates selected through brokered conventions; neither won the general election

Brainstorm potential positive and negative consequences of a brokered convention.

The speech given at the convention that embodies that party’s core message

Why do you think Democrats choose Barrack Obama and Republicans Zell Miller to deliver the 2004 Keynote Addresses?

Convention Speeches: The Keynote Address

Senator Barrack Obama gives the 2004 DNC Keynote Address

Democrat Zell Miller delivers the 2004 RNC Keynote Address

The speech given at the final day of the convention in which the winning candidate formally accepts the party’s nomination for president

The Acceptance Address is always televised by the major networks

Convention Speeches: The Acceptance Address

1960 presidential candidates John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon deliver their Acceptance Addresses at their party’s national convention

Critics say that party nominating conventions have become no more than infomercials.

1992 Democratic National Convention in New York City

What do you think?

1920 Republican Convention

  • Today candidates secure their party’s nomination during the primaries

  • But in 1920 there was no clear nominee going into the Republican Convention

Schwarzenegger Rocks Republican Convention

By Patrick Chappatte, The International Herald Tribune  09/21/2004

2008 -- The Final Three

By Paresh Nath, National Herald, New Delhi, India 3/17/08

Super Delegates

By John Trever, The Albuquerque Journal 03/30/2008

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