How Does the USA Presidential Election System Work

Here it is, in a nutshell

The reality is that we do not have a Presidential election. We have 50 individual elections, one for each of the states. And when you go to the polls and vote for the candidate of your choice, you are not actually voting for that candidate but for an elector whose job it is is to decide who should be the President of the United States. The electors collectively are known as the Electoral College. This, in my opinion, should be eliminated. It was conceptualized by the founding fathers, under the premise that the American people in 18th century USA were not sufficiently educated to handle the responsibility of choosing the President of the United States directly.

If, in fact, it is true that some 232 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence we are still sufficiently illiterate and uneducated that we can't choose our leader ourselves, then there is a problem with the American educational system that is far greater than ever imagined.

This scenario can result in a situation where a candidate can have more votes from common, every day Americans and still lose the election. Witness Al Gore, for instance. If the Electoral College had been abolished, Al Gore would have been President, not Boy George, and several thousand of our soldiers would not be dead today.

I'm getting off topic a tad bit. The bottom line is that whichever candidate can get 270 electoral votes on election night in November will be the President of the United States, and it matters little whether that person has the support of the majority of Americans.

RETURN TO TABLE OF CONTENTS

More by this Author


Comments 24 comments

LisaG profile image

LisaG 8 years ago from Caribbean

You know, that's really very interesting. I have been following the campaigns and was a bit confused by the terms 'Primaries' and 'Delegates'. I understand that a candidate has to get a total of 2025 delegates, is it? in order to qualify for nomination? But I see you mention that it is not really the people who vote for the winner, now I never knew that.

Thanks for answering.


crashcromwell profile image

crashcromwell 8 years ago from Florida Author

I didn't even get into the nominating process. What I outlined was the post-primary season, when all American voters are called out in November to choose between the finalists. The primaries and caucuses are run by the political parties to choose their nominee. Each state has its own traditions.

Generally speaking, the caucus is considered the purer form of democracy, because votes are taken in public. A primary allows for a secret ballot.

In terms of the total number of delegates, the number needed varies depending upon party rules. The Democrats require a larger number of delegates than the Republicans. What's more the Republicans have several states where the winner of the popular vote in that state's primary wins all the delegates for that state. It's called a winner take all. Most states divide up the delegates proportionally, particularly in the Democratic party, where there are no winner take all elections at all.

Given these facts, it's little wonder that the Democrats are having a heck of a time choosing their party's nominee. With two fairly evenly matched candidates, they'll be lucky if either of them secures the nomination without the help of Super Delegates. Who are they? They tend to be professional politicians, such as Democratic Senators and Congressmen, party chairs and other big whigs. This year, with the pledged delegates running so close, it looks entirely likely that the Super Delegates will decide the race. That could create problems for the Democrats, because let's say that Obama has more pledged delegates than Clinton, but Clinton ends up winning the nomination because more Super Delegates vote for her, it will put the Democrats in a really tough spot.


LisaG profile image

LisaG 8 years ago from Caribbean

Thanks, I think I understand it a little better, this will make it easy for me to follow the campaign.


Junkster profile image

Junkster 8 years ago from Liverpool, UK

Thanks for this, being from the UK I had no idea how the election process worked over there, I can remember when I was at university we had the last election coverage (kerry/bush) and we were all hooke don it all day.

Quite an interesting subject, helped clear up a few things in my mind


crashcromwell profile image

crashcromwell 8 years ago from Florida Author

Junkster - I'm glad it was helpful for you. Thanks for dropping by my hub!

Jim Henry


Sal Walker profile image

Sal Walker 7 years ago from Around the way

Crash,

Another great Hub.  I came by this one earlier.  Thought you might like it: hubpages.com/hub/Iraqi-journalist-throws-shoe-at-Bush.


crashcromwell profile image

crashcromwell 7 years ago from Florida Author

It just goes to show how far down people's opinion of the United States has gone under this administration. I really can't wait for that transition on January 20. I had the same kind of sense of anticipation when Clinton was relieving King Bush I in 1993. I remember feeling such an incredible sense of relief knowing that Dan Quayle would not become president, after Al Gore was sworn in, and I'm feeling much the same way about Biden replacing Cheney, though for different reasons. Quayle was just plain incompetent. Cheney is the most power-hungry despot we've seen in my recollection.


belfast maine 7 years ago

Great Hub you have here :) Please check out my Belfast Maine website would love to network!


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

the whole thing just takes soooo long - I suppose left over from a time when everyone was travelling on horseback!


crashcromwell profile image

crashcromwell 7 years ago from Florida Author

Actually LondonGirl, for a political junkie like me, I look forward to the start of the campaigns. Plus, when Republicans give us the likes of Sarah Palin to entertain us, it can be fun!

Believe it or not, historically having an inauguration in January is a relatively recent event. It used to be that the incoming President would not take office until March. And the reason was exactly the one you cited - it took folks like Abe Lincoln weeks to make it from Illinois to Washington, D.C. and I would imagine there was the potential for bad weather slowing them down too.

Thanks for the note!

Jim


bgamall profile image

bgamall 7 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

The electoral college was instituted to give small states more importance. That is the significance of it. It means that the little states count for more. So whether you like it or not it does serve a good purpose in that way at least.


crashcromwell profile image

crashcromwell 7 years ago from Florida Author

I don't see how giving my home state of Maine four electoral votes is going to help it when there are much bigger prizes in New York, Texas, Florida, California, etc. If anything, it discourages candidates from spending time in small states, because they know how little they can hope to gain.

Thanks for the note anyway. That's one of the great things about America - we can agree to disagree, but not be disagreeable in the process!

Jim


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

Here in the UK, it's the very next day. So if you have a general election on 5th May, on 6th May, the defeated PM moves out of Downing Street, and the new one moves in.


crashcromwell profile image

crashcromwell 7 years ago from Florida Author

That would be ideal.....I'm sure President Obama had the members of his transition team chosen before he was elected, so he could have had those people serving as interim cabinet members until Congress could confirm his appointments.

Thanks for anothr note LondonGirl!

Jim


GINGER 6 years ago

And now we have King Obama and young men and women are dying in much larger number.His spending spree was supposed to help our economy.It is the worst it has ever been.


crashcromwell profile image

crashcromwell 6 years ago from Florida Author

I will not dispute your assertion that the economy has worsened, but only because I am aware that there are some areas that are doing worse than others. Where I live, we are starting to see improvement.

I do think your description of the president as King Obama is curious, because in my admittedly biased evaluation, he has been much more democratic than his predecessor (note that is democratic with a small d, as opposed to the party.) In fact, I would suggest that one of his greatest tactical failings is the degree to which he attempted to work with Congressional Republicans, most of whom had absolutely no interest in working with him, but whose only interest has been to obstruct any kind of forward progress.

Thanks for the note!

Jim


Emer 6 years ago

Crash I totally believe the electoral college should be revised, I believe democracy should be the will of the majority. With the current system I believe it can be manipulated to someone's convinience easier. Also I feel that people on larger states (population wise) their vote counts less than those on a less populated state. Well that's just my opinion.


crashcromwell profile image

crashcromwell 6 years ago from Florida Author

You could look at it that way, or you could look it from the other angle. When you consider that Democrats traditionally do well in large urban centers, but they have not fared so well in more rural areas. As a result, they tend to focus their attention on states like New York, California, Pennsylvania and Florida. But Montana? Wyoming? Even where I live in Maine, the attention is not there. So you could say that the electoral college works against campaigns paying attention to states with few electoral votes. Our vote is essentially inconsequential to presidential candidates.

Thanks for the comment!

Jim Henry, aka Crashcromwell


aisha gonvoe 4 years ago

this is rediclous


crashcromwell profile image

crashcromwell 4 years ago from Florida Author

So is your spelling. The word is ridiculous.


SANJOG MAHESHWARI 4 years ago

Mr.crashcromwell I request u to visit my hubpage,and go through my hub captioned " A Plea For Adoption of American Presidential model of Democracy in India". It will be much appreciated if u could care to enlighten us as to why we, in India, a country with a population of more than 120million strong, even after more than six decades of Independence, could not get even a single statesman comparable with the likes of, Obama, Clinton, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Washington and score of others your system has thrown up in the service of America and American people? Is it not 'cause something, much more than that meets the eyes, is terribly wrong with our electoral system & democratic constitution, and needs to be remodeled, mutatis mutandis, on American pattern? Your considered views on this interesting subject, by way of detailed comments on my above said hub will go a long way in enlightening us on the subject in India.


crashcromwell profile image

crashcromwell 4 years ago from Florida Author

I would be pleased to read your hub when I have a spare moment, but I must say that I do not know nearly enough about Indian politics to be able to speak intelligently on the question you present. Thanks for the comment, though!

Jim Henry, aka Crash Cromwell


lenny s 4 years ago

in a presidential election does the majority of total votes (for example the democratic candidate gets the most votes in n.y. state) give that state's total electoral college votes to the representative who gives n.y. to the democratic candidate towards hopefully being elected??


crashcromwell profile image

crashcromwell 4 years ago from Florida Author

The last time I checked, only Maine has a different system. In Maine, I believe they have four electoral votes. The winner statewide gets two, and then whichever candidate gets the most votes in the two house districts would get one elector a piece. It is conceivable, because the greatest population is in southern Maine that the losing candidate could get the elector in the second house district. Other than that, I believe the rest of the states all award all their electors to whichever candidate carries their state. Thanks for the question!

Jim Henry, aka Crash

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working