Last week was a big one for Democrats and Republicans in the US.
Tuesday, March 1st was the first real test for candidates standing for 2016 election. Citizens in thirteen U.S states and the territory of American Samoa went to the polls. Super Tuesday was followed by Super Saturday on March 5th where five more states voted in the biggest week of primaries.
Elections in these states are an indicator of which candidates in the Republican and Democratic parties are gaining in popularity. So far, Donald Trump emerged as the front-runner for the Republican Party, with Senator Ted Cruz a close second. Among Democrats, Hillary Clinton is leading Senator Bernie Sanders.
How Are Elections Held?
There are two main ways that states hold elections - Primaries and Caucuses.
The main difference between the two is that primaries are similar to elections where voters go to a polling booth to cast their vote. Caucuses, on the other hand, are like a town hall meeting where voters belonging to each party gather and listen to what each candidate has to say. They then separate into different camps and convince undecided voters to join their camp.
In addition, there are open and closed primaries. In closed primaries, only registered voters who have stated their party preference cast their vote. In other words, Republicans vote for Republican candidates, and Democrats vote for Democrats. In open primaries, voters can cast their vote for either party.
Why Are Primaries Important?
Delegates. Delegates. Delegates. The primaries are all about who gets the most delegates.
Delegates are people who are actively engaged in the state’s politics. Each state has a fixed number of delegates they can send to the final party convention in June. How many delegates each candidate gets from a state is determined by his (or her) performance in state elections.
Some states have a winner-take-all, where the winner with 51% majority gets all delegates. In other states, it is a proportional system, where the delegates are divided among the candidates depending on the percentage of votes received.
Besides, delegates, there are superdelegates – these are people who have already pledged their support to a candidate. These are influential people like elected officials from a state. To win their party’s nomination, a Republican candidate has to win a majority of 2,472 delegates. On the other hand, a Democratic candidate has to win a majority of 4,763 delegates.
The race is on. As more and more states go to the polls, we will know who the winner will be.