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Electing a President. Electing the President. Primaries and Caucuses (January through June) National Conventions Dems: Aug. 25-28, Denver Reps: Sept. 1-4, St. Paul General Election (1 st Tuesday in November) Electoral College Vote (Monday following 2 nd Wednesday in December)

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Electing a President

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Electing a president l.jpg

Electing a President


Electing the president l.jpg

Electing the President

  • Primaries and Caucuses (January through June)

  • National Conventions

    • Dems: Aug. 25-28, Denver

    • Reps: Sept. 1-4, St. Paul

  • General Election (1st Tuesday in November)

  • Electoral College Vote (Monday following 2nd Wednesday in December)

  • President of Senate Unseals and Reads (January 6)

  • Inauguration (January 20)


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Step 1:Volunteer Support and Fundraising

  • Two years before general election (Autumn 2006)

  • War chest, name recognition, viability?


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Campaign Finance:Where Do Candidates Get Money?

  • Presidential candidates: Public Funding!

  • Personal finances (think Perot)

    • Buckley v. Valeo – protected by First Amendment

  • Individual donors

  • Political Action Committees (PACs)


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Other Sources of Money

  • “Soft Money”

    • Under Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (McCain/Feingold), most is banned to national parties

    • But still state and local parties use soft money

  • 527s


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Distinguishing Between a PAC and a 527

  • PACs raise money to give to parties and individual candidates

    • Can be operated by any sort of group

    • Must donate to at least 5 different federal candidates

    • Limits on amount of donations

  • 527s run their own ads

    • No limit on spending

    • Must not coordinate w/ parties or candidates


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Step 2:Hire Campaign Advisors

  • Campaign manager

  • Media consultant / press spokesperson

  • Pollsters


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Step 3:Prepare for Primary (or Primaries)

  • Keep raising money

  • Continue polling

    • Select issues

    • Identify opponent’s weaknesses

    • Test media ads (focus groups)

  • Handle scandals

  • Travel

    • Key primary/caucus states


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Primary Campaigns:The Delicate Balance

  • Campaigning against people “on your team”

    • If you win – may want support

    • If they win – you may want a JOB

  • Two types of primaries:

    • “personality clash”

    • “ideological struggle”


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Primaries and Caucuses

  • Open and Closed Primaries

  • Caucuses (at least 11 states)

  • Both selecting party delegates to the national party convention

  • Texas primaries technically closed, but you declare partisanship by voting, so you can switch right up to time you participate


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Primaries and Caucuses 2008

  • Dates

    • Iowa, Nev, S.C., N.H. and Fla. – Jan.

    • Super Tuesday – Feb. 5 – 19 states

    • Texas: Mar. 4

    • Last, June 3 – Montana, S.D.


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Presidential Public Funding:Primary Season

  • Eligibility requirements

    • Must raise at least $5000 in each of 20 states

    • Contributions that “count” must be less than $250

    • Eligibility disappears if you bomb (<10%) in two consecutive primaries

  • Presidential Election Campaign Fund matches all donations of under $250

  • The catch: total spending limit during the primary season (in 2000, $40.5 million)

    • 2004, both Kerry and Bush turned down public funding for primary season


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Step 4:Win the Primary / Convention

  • Usually know the outcome before the convention actually takes place

    • State delegates bound by primary/caucus results

    • Superdelegates usually commit in advance

  • Now your strategy shifts and you can focus on your actual opponent

  • Re: Money . . . The rules change at this point


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Step 5:General Election Campaign

  • Polling

  • Getting out the message:

    • Broadcast media

    • Other advertising

  • Debates

    • First televised??


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Presidential Public Funding:General Election

  • Democratic and Republican nominees have two choices for funding the general election

    • Take the public funding and don’t spend any other money

    • No public funding . . . And no limits! (Perot in 1992)

  • Third party candidates

    • If you received 5% or more of the vote in the previous election, you’re eligible

    • If you receive 5% or more of the vote in *this* election, you can get the money after the fact (John Anderson in 1980)

    • Amount depends on success in election


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The Electoral College Process


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Electoral College Composition

  • # of electors from state = # of House reps + # of Senators (always 2)

  • District of Columbia gets 3 electors

  • Each party submits slate of electors for state, so you are really voting for that slate of electors

  • Winner takes all electors in every state except Nebraska and Maine

    • NE and ME: two “at large” electors, remainder selected by Congressional district


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Example: Texas

  • Texas has 32 reps in the House

  • So 32 + 2 = 34 electors

  • Second only to CA, NY has 31

  • Electors chosen by the parties at their state conventions

  • Vote: 34% Bush, 33% Kerry, 33% Nader . . .

  • All 34 electors for Bush


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Special Requirements

  • Electors cast vote for President and separate vote for VP

    • Electors cannot vote for BOTH a President and a VP from their home state

    • Must have a majority to win (not just a plurality)

    • No majority for President: House of Reps chooses among top 3 vote-getters

    • No majority for VP: Senate chooses among top 2 vote-getters


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Doing the Math . . .

  • 435 House Members + 100 Senators + 3 D.C. Electors = 538 Electors Total

  • 50% = 269 Electoral Votes

  • 50% + 1 = 270 Electoral Votes (needed to win)


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Arguments Against the Electoral College

  • Voters in territories (Guam, Am Samoa, VI, etc.) disenfranchised

  • Can win the electoral college w/out winning popular vote (as in 2000)

  • Loss of confidence in system

  • “Faithless Electors”

  • Small states (population-wise) have an advantage:

    • Wyoming: 3 EC votes, 1 per 165,000 citizens

    • California: 55 EC votes, 1 per 617,000 citizens


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Arguments in Favor of Electoral College

  • Candidates have to have broad geographic support

  • May reduce cost of election

  • May reduce corruption


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Arguments Against the Electoral College

  • Voters in territories (Guam, Am Samoa, VI, etc.) disenfranchised

  • Can win the electoral college w/out winning popular vote (as in 2000)

  • Loss of confidence in system

  • “Faithless Electors”

  • Small states (population-wise) have an advantage:

    • Wyoming: 3 EC votes, 1 per 165,000 citizens

    • California: 55 EC votes, 1 per 617,000 citizens


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Candidate Competition:How Voters Decide

  • Partisan Loyalty

  • Issues

  • Government performance

    • Prospective / retrospective voting

  • Candidate Characteristics

    • Appearance

    • Insider / outsider

    • Character (integrity, honor, faith, etc.)


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Importance of Context

  • Economy

  • Threats to safety, at home and abroad


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What Does It Mean . . .

  • People vote by

    • Party

    • Performance of government (blamed on incumbent)

    • Broad issues, specifically “party image” issues

  • People don’t vote by

    • Candidate characteristics

    • Issue specifics


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