Step 1: Declaring Your Candidacy • A presidential candidate first makes an official announcement that he or she is running for president. • Then, he or she must file papers with the federal elections commission, which regulates the election process. • Candidates usually make these announcements at least a year before the presidential election. • Must be 35-years old, a U.S. citizen, and must have lived in the U.S. for 14 years.
Step 2: Primaries & Caucuses • To win his/her party’s nomination, candidates must compete to win the most delegates in state elections called primaries & caucuses • Candidates are running against people in their own party • Starts in Feb. of the election year and runs through June • This year, the Republican candidate needed 1,144 delegates to win the nomination
Primaries • A primary election looks very much like a general election: Voters get ballots that list the names of the people running for president and then go to a polling place and vote for one of those people. • 1st Primary: New Hampshire • Most primaries are closed and winner-take-all
Caucuses • A caucus is a gathering of people who discuss the issues and the candidates at a central location and then cast their votes for candidates. • Usually in states with smaller populations • 1st Caucus: Iowa
Step 3: The Convention • Each party holds a national convention in late summer • The purpose of the convention: 1. finalize the party’s nomination 2. finalize the party’s platform • Republican Convention: week of Aug. 27th, Tampa, FL • Democratic Convention: week of Sept. 3rd Charlotte, NC
Step 4: The Campaign • The official campaign begins after both parties have held their conventions – usually after Labor Day Weekend • Five main way candidates campaign: 1. rallies/whistle stops 2. debates 3. media – ads, news coverage, press releases 4. Internet – websites, fundraising tool 5. grassroots organization - volunteers go door- to-door and make phone calls in their local community
Step 5: The General Election • Election Day is the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November every 4 years (Nov. 6, 2012) • However, the president is not elected by the people on Election Day • The president is officially elected by the electors of the Electoral College • When we vote for a candidate, we are actually voting for electors who are committed to that candidate • Winner-take-all system • Is it possible to win the electoral vote, but lose the popular vote? Yes! It happened in the 2000 Election.
Step 6: The Electoral College • The Electoral College officially elects the president on the first Monday after the second Wed. in December • Framers did not trust the common people to elect their own president • Each state is given a number of “electoral votes” = to the # of Senators + # of Representatives they have in Congress. • California has 55 (2 Senators + 53 Reps.) • All states have at least 3 electoral votes • Washington D.C. also has 3 electoral votes • Candidate needs 270 out of 538 to win • Results are read before a joint session of Congress in January – this makes it official!
Step 7: Inauguration Day • The new president elect does not officially take office until he/she is inaugurated • Inauguration Day is January 20th • On Inauguration Day the new president is sworn in by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and takes the oath of office