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Elections in the States?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Icey101, Jan 25, 2012.

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  1. ok i'm not really into politics but in Australia we generally have 2 parties, Labour and Liberal and each party nominates a leader and we vote on one.....easy hey....

    ok now when i see it in the States, i have no understanding whatsoever of how it works and from the news clips noone here ever explains it....there seems to be something happened in one of the states between a bunch of candidates, then they dig up dirt on all of them, then a few drop out... then they all go on the road to campaign for a year and one of them wins?....is that how it works?

    by the way this isnt ment to be a political thread...more of a how does it work type thing
  2. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Basically we have two parties also, though technically other parties exist and are allowed--they just never have enough money to actually compete with the two big dogs. All of the hubbub you described with campaigning, dirt-digging, and dropping out is just the way each of our parties decides who their candidate will be. Once they've done that, then it's pretty much just like your two-party election.
  3. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Presidential elections happen every four years, congressional elections every two years.

    In presidential elections, there's a long lead-up as each of the two major parties (democrat and republican) choose their nominee. This year, since the president is a democrat and not being challenged in his party, all the attention is on the republicans at this stage. Each state holds either a primary (which runs like a regular election) or a caucus, which is this weird town-meeting kind of process.

    A whole heap of republican candidates put their hats in the ring this year. The states don't all hold their primaries simultaneously, so they try to get attention and momentum in the early ones - the Iowa caucus, New Hampshire primary (woo hoo go NH!), South Carolina and now Florida. If they do well, they attract contributions so they can fund ongoing campaigns. If they don't, they start to run out of money and end up dropping out of the race. On "super tuesday" (March 6 this year) about two dozen states will go at once, so that usually decides the race for good.

    In the late spring or early summer (I forget exactly when it happens), the national conventions of the two parties will officially designate their candidates. From then until the election in November, it will be a two-man race, Obama vs. whoever the republicans nominate.
  4. :atoz: ummm.....trying to follow
  5. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Primaries, caucuses, and conventions are just different venues in which all the candidates within a given party fight each other for the one nomination to represent the party. During these events they try to gather more money than the other guys, they try to gather more influential supporters than the others, and they try to make their case to the general public. It's like Roman Gladiator battles during these early stages, before the party has chosen its candidate to oppose the other party's top man.
  6. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Remember Congress has two branches: The House of Representatives and The Senate. All of the House is up for election every two years. Senators have six year terms and only 1/3 of them are up for election each Congressional election.
  7. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    I think the OP has a pretty good handle on how it works.
  8. First they confuse and annoy the general public; then they hurl insults while makeing themselves look like heroes; finally the public ,still confused and annoyed, pick whom they think is better in hopes that they all just shut up for the next few years.
  9. Then someone starts a thread in OT, then it gets closed...
  10. If I'm not mistaken Australia has the parliamentary system, which is what Canada also has, which is based on the British system. In this system each party chooses its leader, and the whole country is divided up into ridings, which corresponds to congressional districts here in the USA. On election day you don't vote for the party leader, you vote for the person running for his party in your riding. Generally the party with the most Members of Parliament elected is asked by the Queen, or her representative the Governor-General, to form the next government, and the winning party's leader becomes the next Prime Minister. Winston Churchill once said that the Parliamentary form of democratic government is the closest thing to a dictatorship, since as long as your party has the majority in Parliament the Prime Minister can do pretty much anything he wants!

    America's system is more based on the French Republican system, whose roots go back to the Roman Republic, with a strong Presidency and separation of powers. Elections and campaigns under this system can be a long, drawn out affair, unlike the Parliamentary system, where campaigns typically last weeks until voting day.
  11. Let's hope not. This isn't a political discussion per se, it's more of a Political Science 101 type of discussion, a comparison of different systems of government.
  12. Staccato

    Staccato Low End Advocate

    Aug 14, 2009
    No pun intended, but many in the U.S. have no idea how it works, and little motivation to learn about this topic-which is taught to children in U.S. public schools.

    There were so many close elections in 2010 for voters in my district, and neighborhood (2 vote, or 9 vote spreads between candidates) that it easily made the argument that anyone in this area-making an argument that their vote doesn't count, has no idea what they are talking about, and should be branded as someone that should never complain about who's running things in city, county, state, or national office...
  13. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    What many in and outside the US don't realize is that the US was originally planned to be a coalition of states. The only federal officials elected by popular vote are the House of Representatives. They are selected in equally proportional districts by the number of Votes. The Senate (the other branch of our parliament) is selected by a popular vote but with no popular vote correlation. It would be possible to be a Senator from one state (each state gets two) and get a tenth of the votes a Senator from another state gets. This is the same way to a lesser extent in the Presidential election.

    The Presidential election is still (like the Senate) an election of States, but they get proportional value based on their population. The difference is its winner take all. So its possible for a President to win a state by a few hundred votes or less and get the entire proportional representation of that state in the electoral college. This is how the election in both 2000 and 1960 went down. This is why someone could conceivably win a bunch of states by small margins and be elected president if the opposing candidate won more popular votes and carried some states by huge margins.

    The key to remember is that the US Constitutional form of government is not a democracy it is a Democratic Republic of States.
  14. I am w/you, but skeptical. From my experiences here, it is inevitable, unfortunately...
  15. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    What happens is they allow you to think there are two opposing parties, with various third parties, all championing about their different agends. Then the person they want to be in charge wins, while all the people who didnt choose that person think they were outvoted by the people who did. We then carry on as if things would be better had the other party won, leaving a viable scapegoat for everything political in which we disagree with. Behind the curtain they laugh, as we continue to think we have a choice, even though we dont, but play along anyway.

  16. flypejose


    Sep 2, 2009
    ^^ This remark made me think about what author David Hume said about how ruling classes usually behave; they rarely seek to fulfill any kind of social contract! I suppose this happens in democratic systems too!
  17. That's pretty damn close to getting this thread closed. Thanks! :scowl:
  18. flypejose


    Sep 2, 2009
    As the OP, I was a bit confused by the US system (as I'm more accustomed to the French system, Which is in a way kind of simpler ihmo). I had the impression that the whole process (primaries + general) was long and complex (popular votes vs "big" electors, caucusses, etc.) .
  19. flypejose


    Sep 2, 2009
    IMO it refers to a classical political philosophy topic.
  20. ()smoke()


    Feb 25, 2006
    except it isn't really 'winner take all', because in some states, the electoral representative can apportion votes as he/she deems fit (no rule that all votes go to one candidate or even the candidate who has the most votes!)...it's just tradition (or assumed) that 'winner take all'

    some further insight here:

    U. S. Electoral College FAQs

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