Election Events Explained

Election Events Explained

There are two main political parties in the US: Democrats and Republicans. Although there are others, such as Green or Libertarian, a Democrat or Republican has won the Presidency since 1852. Each party has to pick a candidate as their nominee, who then runs against nominees from any opposing party in hopes of being elected on Election Day, which is every four years and on the first Tuesday of November. In order to determine who will represent the party on the ballot in November, the parties hold primaries and caucuses where people vote for who they want to win, and delegates are awarded to different candidates depending on how many people voted for them.


Donald Trump is still the clear front runner for the Republican party, and although he’s not running unopposed, there isn’t any serious competition because he’s the current president so his role as nominee is pretty much guaranteed. So far his closest opponent, Bill Weld, has only 1 delegate compared to Trump’s 1,104.


For the Democrat’s this year, it’s not as simple. However, the playing field is already much smaller than just a few weeks ago. Most candidates have dropped out, and now only 3 out of the 25 remain. The other 22 dropped out at different points of their campaign, with some never even making it to a debate. The last candidates fighting for the title of nominee are former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Tulsi Gabbard, who is the US Representative for Hawaii’s 2nd congressional district, but has no serious chance of winning, with only 2 delegates. That’s less delegates than 4 of the candidates that have already dropped out, and practically nothing compared to Biden’s 860 and Sanders’ 710.


Primaries are similar to the general election, where people just go vote for whoever they feel should be the nominee. Caucuses are different because people go talk and argue about the candidates, and stand in groups depending on who they support. This gives people a chance to convince others to support their candidate and learn more about other candidates. To win the Democratic nomination, a candidate needs 1,991 delegates, and to win the Republican nomination a candidate needs 1,276 delegates.


The first caucus this year was in Iowa, but there were technical difficulties and the election was off to a rocky start. The results weren’t available as soon as expected, and when they were, Mayor Pete Buttigieg was in the lead, but with Sanders so close behind it was practically a tie. Both candidates declared victory. Next came the New Hampshire primary where Sanders was the winner, but with Buttigieg close behind.
While every delegate counts, the first few states can’t be used to predict the final winner, as evidenced by Buttigieg, who seemed to be doing well at first, dropping out. Furthermore, Biden is currently in the lead, despite only earning 6 delegates in Iowa and 0 in New Hampshire.


So what happened? The next state was Nevada, where things continued going well for Sanders who won 24 delegates, with only 3 going to Buttigieg. Biden came in second with 9 delegates, which was an improvement compared to previous states, but still far behind Sanders. A week later Biden had his first major success, in the form of the South Carolina primary, where he claimed first place with 39 delegates. Sanders came in second, with 15, and Tom Steyer, who didn’t get a single delegate, in third. Buttigieg was in fourth.


Although these states did show Biden doing better, March 3rd is when things got serious. The day is known as Super Tuesday because 14 states vote on that day, including California and Texas. With 415 of them available at the primary, California has the most delegates of any state, and Texas, which has 228, is a big state as well. For some the results were disappointing, like Senator Elizabeth Warren who came in third place or worse, even in her home state of Massachusetts. For Biden, the exact opposite can be said. He won 10 out of the 14 states(although not 100% of the results are in from all the states yet, enough are available to accurately see who won), and enough delegates to take the lead. Sanders won 4 states, including California, but it clearly wasn’t enough.


The most recent primaries were on March 10, which is sometimes referred to as Super Tuesday II, where Biden won 4 of the 6 states. Sanders placed first in North Dakota, and Washington still doesn’t have the final results ready.


Next up are the 4 states voting on March 17.