The US Presidential Elections are less than three months away and politics can seem like a confusing maze to even the most seasoned voters. Here is a brief essay around electioneering in the US to make voting in November easier to navigate.
The United States of America is a federal nation. The founding fathers intended the states to have a lot of powers. Though the freedom and amount of power that individual states enjoy have gone up and down in past years, state governments command a lot of power when it comes to elections. State laws can define how candidates are nominated and influence the operation of political parties. States decide registration rules for voters and decide boundaries of Congressional Election districts.
Watch: A Short History of US Presidential Elections
As a matter of fact, American voters don’t directly vote for their president in the US Presidential elections. They vote for members of the Electoral College, who in turn vote for the President, often in line with the state’s mandate. Until now, the states have left it to the voters; but there isn’t anything that stops the state from selecting the electors themselves. Based on existing legal precedents, states cannot restrict presidential candidates.
American don’t directly vote for their president but for members of the Electoral College, who in turn vote for the President, often in line with the state’s mandate.
When it comes to who can vote, the rules are simple. All citizens over the age of 18 are entitled to vote in the presidential elections. States can, however, fine-tune the criteria of who gets to vote, like deciding the voting eligibility of convicted felons. In 2016, 250,056,000 Americans were eligible to vote out of which 138,847,000 turned up.
Understanding US Presidential Elections – From Past to Present
In the USA, electoral votes are determined by the population. Therefore, the states with the most population have the highest number of electoral votes. The top 11 states are California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina and New Jersey. As yet, no President has won all fifty states.
In 2016, the candidates for the office were businessman and real estate mogul Donald Trump and former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump won the election in a victory largely credited to the electoral college. Trump won the electoral college by 304-227 despite Clinton winning the popular vote with 2.9 million votes more than Trump.
Barack Obama won the Presidential elections in 2008 and 2012. He is the member of the Democratic Party and was the first African-American president of America. The United States held gubernatorial elections in 2019 for the states of Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi and regularly-scheduled state legislative elections in Louisiana, Mississippi, Virginia, and New Jersey. After these elections, the Democrats held partisan control of 16 states and Republicans about 20 states. Democrat Nancy Pelosi was reelected Speaker of the House.
What does it take to be President?
The US constitutional requirements for a President are that they should be a natural-born citizen of the USA, be at least 35 years old and have been a resident of the United States for 14 years. These are the basic requirements: there are a lot of steps from being eligible to becoming a President and making it to the oval office.
Watch: US Presidential Elections Trivia
A candidate has to win primaries and make it to the national convention where they get selected as the candidate. They then have to campaign all over the country. Political campaigns are huge and massively expensive. Research shows that more campaign spending often leads to a greater chance of winning. The campaigns couldn’t be very grand this year due to the pandemic and social distancing rules.
Political scientists and experts say the three major factors on the basis of which voters decide their vote are:
- Party loyalty,
- Individual stances on issues
- Characteristics like gender, and a candidate’s views on religion, race etc.
Other factors like personal prejudices and relatability might contribute as well. If we look at the candidates for the 2020 elections, we are fairly looking at two straight white cis-men; so there isn’t much difference in the characteristics which brings the contest down to other factors.
CNN reported in 2016 that Americans preferred a candidate with executive experience, legislative experience and political background. But Trump, despite having no such background, defeated Clinton, who had a long resume filled with political and legislative accomplishments. Therefore, we don’t know if Biden’s experience as a former vice-president and Senator will count or not. Technically, Biden is still not the Democratic candidate, but since Bernie Sanders dropped out, it is more than safe to assume Biden is the challenger for 2020.
Another thing that Americans consider before voting is the change the candidate is bringing in terms of policies. In this case, Biden has leverage in criticizing the incumbent president, and talking about the changes he envisions while the incumbent has to defend his actual performs in the first term.
Is Trump winning the presidential race?
Joe Biden is currently leading Donald Trump in the national polls. The 10-poll average indicates that just under 50 per cent of voters intend to back Democrat candidate, Joe Biden. Trump’s approval ratings as a President are just 42 percent. Currently, 53 percent Americans disapprove of the how President Trump is performing. However, polls aren’t the only signs to be read.You will find more infographics at Statista
Historian Allan Lichtman, who predicted Trump’s victory, has said that Biden will win in November. The USA is in a volatile state amidst a pandemic, protests and mass unemployment making the elections more significant that most in recent memory.