What is a Primary?

What is a Primary?

Entering 2016, the Primary Elections have been the major news story within the United States. Network news has covered them non-stop, they make for prime stories in newspapers across the country, and perhaps most notably, they make social media explode with information. With so much coverage, it can be difficult to take a step back and process exactly what is going on.

So what is a Primary? Their purpose is for each party to select a Presidential nominee heading into the general election which takes place in November. A number of candidates are likely to be on that ballot, but as tradition has shown, it’s the Democratic and Republican candidates that are realistically in the running to win.

The primaries occur according to a schedule taking place in various states. Each state has its own rules for counting votes: some have a straight-up election where citizens vote as they do in the general election, while others form a caucus (a sometimes confusing process that involves each candidate’s supporters physically grouping together). Each state also has its own rules regarding how many delegates each candidate obtains from the primary election. Once the primaries are over, the candidate from each party that has obtained the most delegates will be declared the nominee and go on to the general election.

As a part of the process, candidates campaign by giving speeches, buying ad time, and perhaps most importantly, debating the other nominees. As time goes on, some candidates will drop out of the race as it becomes apparent they do not have the support necessary to win a nomination. If you are a political junkie, this process provides all the fodder you need to remain entertained for most of the year. 

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