It is universally acknowledged that the Presidential Election in the United States affects the entire universe.
The campaign trail leading to the elections is such that it brings out the best (or the worst) in all the candidates and the media covering it. The battle is for control of what the current President of the United States — in his final State of the Union address — called the 'most powerful nation on Earth'.
It doesn't matter if your conscience allows you to admit the fact or not, but the US elections do matter. And it's that time of the four-year-cycle again when the two major parties of the country, the Republicans and the Democrats, battle it out in a (almost) year-long process.
The process in question is already under way and this year, it promises to be different with millionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump running for the nomination from the Republicans.
On Tuesday night, Bernie Sanders won a commanding victory over Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire primary, and Trump also scored a big win. Both outcomes would have been nearly unthinkable not long ago. Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, beat a former secretary of state and first lady once seen as the all-but-certain Democratic nominee. While Clinton remains the favourite in the national race for the Democratic nomination, the win by the Vermont senator could be a springboard into a competitive, drawn-out primary campaign.
For Trump, the brash real estate magnate and television personality who has never run for public office, the win was an important rebound after his loss to Texas Senator Ted Cruz in last week's Iowa caucuses, the first nominating contest.
But if you are uninitiated with the election process in the country, the last paragraphs might not have made much sense.
Primary? Nominations? Year-long election process?
Here is an all-you-need-to-know about the nominations for the Presidential Election in the United States:
Every four years, Democrats and Republicans fight it out for the top office in the country. This is one of those years.
But unlike many elections around the would, in case of the US, it will be unwise to just look at the day of the election (8 November this year). The entire year is of interest.
The election year kicks off with primaries and caucuses. Here, a number of Republicans and Democrats candidates contest to represent their party in the presidential race. In other words, the winners (among the candidates of both parties, decided through the primaries and the caucuses) will run for President position this year.
This year, the Democrat candidates still in the fray are Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. As for the Republicans, the candidates include Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, John Kasich, Marco Rubio and Donald Trump. (Many other drop out over time.)
All these candidates will compete for the nomination for the presidential candidate.
The primaries and the caucuses take place on different dates in different states in the country. Here, in some states, the entire population gets to pick a candidate while in others, Republicans only get to elect Republican candidates and same goes for the Democrats.
The dates for these primaries and caucuses are decided upon individually by states. Here are the dates for this year.
But the citizens do not elect the candidates directly, they elect delegates who are in turn are bound to candidates. In other words, you indirectly vote for a candidate.
There are a specific number of these delegates in every state.
This year, the Republicans are represented by 2,472 delegates. A candidate needs to win more than half this number — 1,237 in this case, in order to win the nomination. As for the Democrats, there are 4,763 delegates this year; ergo, 2,382 to win.
These delegates officially elect the candidate at their respective party's national convention. This year, the Republican National Convention will be held from 18 to 21 July in Cleveland, Ohio, while the Democratic will be held from 25 to 28 July in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
If none of the candidates win more than half the delegate votes, negotiations are held. Some candidates may withdraw in the process and then the delegates vote again.
But at this stage, delegates can vote for any of the remaining candidates — regardless of whom they were originally representing — until a candidate comes out on top.
After the convention, it becomes clear who will be fighting whom for the top position.
Now, to the election. All the eligible voters of the country get a chance to cast their votes on 8 November and become part of history.
With inputs from agencies.
First Published On : Feb 11, 2016 08:04 IST