In January 2017, after a drawn out and expensive campaign, the United States will have a new leader. US presidential elections mean that citizens are not only choosing a head of state, but also a head of government and a commander-in-chief of the largest military on the planet. So how does the US Presidential election work?
Who Can Be President?
Technically, to run for president, you only need to be “a natural born” US citizen, at least 35 year old and have been a resident for fourteen years. However in reality, every president since 1933 has been a governor, senator or a five-star military general. During the 2016 election period, at one point there were ten governors or former governors and ten who are or were senators. One person is nominated to represent the Republican and Democratic parties in the presidential election.
Who Gets to be the Presidential Pick for Each Party?
Beginning in February of the year of the election, a series of elections are held in every state and overseas territory. These elections determine who becomes each party’s official presidential candidate. The winner of each election collects a number of “delegates,” which are party members who have the power to vote for that candidate at the party conventions that are held in July, where candidates are formally confirmed. The more state contests a candidate winds, the more delegates will be pledged to support them at the convention.
This year, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump were the clear winners and were officially nominated at their party’s conventions in July. They also officially unveiled their vice-president picks – Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia for Mrs Clinton and Indiana Governor Mike Pence for the Republicans.
Key Dates Between Now and Election
While the election campaign feels long, in reality it has only begun. Once the candidates have been confirmed at the party conventions in July, the real campaign begins, with each candidate travelling across the country to make their case.
In the last six weeks before the November election, there are three televised presidential debates:
- 26 September in Hempstead, New York
- 4 October in Farmville, Virginia (Vice-Presidential Debate)
- 9 October in St Louis, Missouri
- 19 October in Las Vegas, Nevada
The election will take place on Tuesday, 8 November.
How does the Vote in November Work?
The candidate with the most votes in each state becomes the candidate which that stat supports for president. It all comes down to a system known as the electoral college, which is a group of people who choose the winner – 538 of them. However just half of that number – 270 – is needed in order to make a president. Furthermore, not all states are equal. For example, California has more than ten times the population of Connecticut and therefore they do not get an equal say. Each state has a certain number of these “electors,” based on their population in the most recent census. That number is the same number of districts in a state, plus two senators. When citizens vote for their preferred candidate, they are actually voting for the electors, some of which are pledged to one candidate, and some for another. In almost every state, with the exception of Nebraska and Maine, the winner takes all. Therefore the person who wins the most electors in New York, for example, will get all 29 of New York’s electoral votes. As a result, the swing states are often the ones that matter most.
What are Swing States?
Some states are known as “swing states,” which means that they could go either way. Florida in particular, with 29 votes, famously decided during the 2000 election in favor of Republican George W. Bush, who lost the popular vote nationally but, after a Supreme Court case, won the electoral college. Other swing states include: Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia.
When Does the new President Begin Work?
In the days and weeks after the election the victor will assemble a cabinet and will begin crafting a more thorough police agenda. Under the US constitution, the president is inaugurated on 20 January of the year following the election.
After a week of shocking statements made by Republican candidate Donald Trump, new divisions have emerged within the United States Republican Party over its presidential candidate.
In the latest controversy to hit the Republican Party, Mr Trump has refused to support two senior figures within his own party. When asked in an interview for the Washington Post whether he would endorse House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator John McCain, who are both up for re-election in November, Mr Trump replied that he was “just not quite there yet.” Both men publicly criticized him.
In recent days, Mr Trump has come under fire for criticizing the parents of a US Muslim soldier who was killed in Iraq. Speaking at the Democratic National Convention at the end of July, the soldier’s father, Khazr Khan, lambasted Mr Trump over his plan to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the US. Mr Trump responded by attacking the couple. Both Democratic and Republican leaders, as well as veterans’ group, were quick to criticise Mr Trump, with the incident leading US President Barack Obama to make his strongest comments yet on Mr Trump. On 2 August, President Obama stated that “the Republican nominee is unfit to serve as president and he keeps on proving it,” adding, “the notion that he would attack a Gold Star family that made such extraordinary sacrifices, means that he is woefully unprepared to do this job.” In response, Mr Trump dismissed President Obama’s time in the White House, calling it a “disaster,” and stating in a Fox News interview that “he’s been weak, he’s been ineffective…the worst president, maybe, in the history of our country.”
Mr Trump’s campaign has been marked by a series of controversial statements, which appear to be creating further divides within his own party. On 1 August, New York Representative Richard Hanna became the first Republican member of Congress to publicly say that he would vote for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. On Monday, Sally Bradshaw, a top adviser to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, disclosed that Mr Trump’s candidacy had convinced her to leave the Republican Party. Just days later, Republican donor Meg Whitman also announced that she has endorsed his Mrs Clinton, stating that Mr Trump’s “demagoguery” had undermined the national fabric. Writing on Facebook, Ms Whitman stated that to vote Republican out of party loyalty alone “would be to endorse a candidacy that I believe has exploited anger, grievance, xenophobia and racial division,” adding that “Trump’s unsteady hand would endanger our prosperity and national security. His authoritarian character could threaten much more.” Meanwhile senior party activist Jan Halper-Hayes has told the BBC that she though Mr Trump was “psychologically unbalanced.” Dr Halper-Hayes, vice president of Republicans Overseas Worldwide, told the BBC’s Today Programme that she was “very concerned” about Mr Trump’s behaviour, however she did not go so far as to endorse Mrs Clinton. She further stated, “I think there is an element of him that truly is psychologically unbalanced, and I feel very guilty for saying this because I’m a Republican and I want the Republican ticket to win…But Donald is out of control right now and he’s not listening to anyone.” Dozens of senior Republican party figures have already stated that they will not vote for Mr Trump. They include the party’s’ 2012 nominee Mitt Romney and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.
In recent weeks, Mrs Clinton has been actively courting moderate Republicans. Furthermore the latest Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll suggests that she has extended her lead over Mr Trump to eight percentage points, from six points in the previous poll.
List of Republicans Not Voting for Mr Trump
- Barbara Bush, former first lady
- Jeb Bush, former Florida governor, 2016 presidential candidate
- William Cohen, former secretary of defense
- Jeff Flake, Arizona senator
- Lindsey Graham, South Carolina senator, 2016 presidential candidate
- Larry Hogan, Maryland governor
- John Kasich, Ohio governor, 2016 presidential candidate
- Mark Kirk, Illinois senator
- Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor, 2012 Republican presidential nominee
- Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Congresswoman
- Ben Sasse, Nebraska senator
List of Republicans Voting for Mrs Clinton
- Richard Armitage, former deputy secretary of state
- Hank Paulson, former treasury secretary
- Brent Scowcroft, former national security adviser
- Richard Hanna, New York Congressman
- Meg Whitman, party donor and fundraiser
After emerging victorious from last night’s leadership spill, Malcolm Turnbull has been sworn in as Australia’s 29th Prime Minister, barely two years after his predecessor Tony Abbott led the Liberal Party to victory in September 2013.
Despite increasingly ominous rumblings from the back bench and overt expressions of discontent from his cabinet, the former prime minister had dismissed as gossip the possibility that a second challenge to his leadership would emerge so soon after the abortive February coup. However, Monday morning saw gossip merge into uncomfortable reality as Federal Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull handed in his resignation and demanded that Abbott call a leadership ballot.
Moments after walking away from his ministerial portfolio, Turnbull issued an excoriating critique of the Abbott government, focusing primarily on its inability to provide sound economic leadership and its continued poor performance in the polls. It had been, he said, a difﬁcult decision to make, but one which was vital if the Labor Party was to be prevented from winning the next federal election. “We need advocacy, not slogans.” He said, alluding to Abbott’s highly divisive rhetorical style. “And we need a different style of leadership. We need a style of leadership that…explains the challenges and how to seize the opportunities, a style of leadership that respects the people’s intelligence.”
While insiders claim that Abbott was taken aback by Turnbull’s decision, the embattled leader was nevertheless quick to respond. “We are not the Labor Party.” He said, invoking the spectre of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd leadership crisis that had all-but crippled the last Labor government. “This country needs strong and stable government and that means avoiding at all costs Labor’s revolving-door prime ministership.”
Despite these grim prognostications, Abbott was unable to rally enough support from within the party to secure his position as its leader, loosing the leadership spill to Malcolm Turnbull last night by a ten point margin.
Shortly after noon today, Abbott – who had not yet spoken publicly about his defeat – addressed the nation for the last time as its Prime Minister. Angry and deﬁant, his concession speech paid no tribute – however grudging – to his successor and ignored the role he himself had played in losing the conﬁdence of his party and much of the electorate. Instead, he focused on his achievements – the free trade agreements, the refugee policy – and on those who had weakened his administration, particularly the media whose “poll driven panic” and “sour, bitter character assassinations” had made his position untenable.
As the new Turnbull administration readies itself for the upcoming election, the question remains: what will Abbott do next? Will he take up his position on the backbench and see out the rest of his term in quiet contemplation of his lot? Or will he, like Kevin Rudd, use his best endeavours to undermine the party and the individuals responsible for his downfall? In the context of what Abbott undoubtedly sees as a personal betrayal, of what value are his assurances that there will be no white-anting of the Turnbull government? Another possibility is that he may leave public ofﬁce altogether, causing a by-election in Warringah, the electorate he has served as a Federal Member of Parliament since 1994. Whatever he decides to do, the reality which Turnbull now has to face is a party riven by disunity and factionalism, a situation which is unlikely to improve with next week’s