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- Once every two years for House representatives.
- Once every four years for the President.
- Once every six years for the Senators.
- State elections held at same time as federal elections to save time and money.
Advantages of Incumbency
- Representatives who run for reelection win approximately 90% of the time.
- While imcumbent senators have a tremendous electoral advantage, House incumbents have an even greater advantage, since senators run statewide, inviting competition, as opposed to representatives running in their home district.
- Nominations, during which the parties choose their candidates for the general elections.
- General elections, during which voters decide who will hold elective office.
- 39 States use primary elections to select presidential nominees, and all states use primaries to nominate state offices.
- Between early February and late spring of election year .
- The most common type of primary election.
- Voting is restricted to registered members of a political party.
- Voters may vote only for candidates running for the nomination of their declared party.
- Ex. Democrats choosing the best Democrat, GOP choosing the best Republican
- Voters may vote only in one party's primary, but may vote in whichever party primary they choose.
- Voters select the party primary in which they wish to participate in the privacy of the voting both.
- Criticized for allowing the sabotage of an opposing primary and voting for the candidate least likely to win.
- Use the same procedure as the general elections.
- Voters may vote for one candidate per office of either party.
- Only Alaska and Washington use this election system.
- Occurs when no candidate receives the required or minimum share of votes.
- Held between the top two voted candidates.
- Occur most often when many challengers vie for an open office, especially when none of them are well known
- Devoted party members selected to attend their respective party's national convention to support their party's presidential candidate.
- Typically selected at state caucuses and conventions.
- Automatic delegate status to many party leaders, including congressmen and state leaders.
- Generally support the front-runner.
- Criticized for diluting the importance of primary elections by diluting the importance of the primary elections by making the party elite to control the nominating process.
- Used by Democrats, not GOP
- Recommends that delegates must be represented by the proportion of their population in each state.
- Created by Republicans to promote diversity withing the delegate pool.
Elections held between presidential elections.
Date of General Elections for Federal Office
1st Tuesday of November
Federal Matching Funds
- Given to primary candidates who received more than 10% of the vote in the election.
- Matches all campaign contributions of $250 and less.
- Occurs when no candidate has received the pledge of a majority of convention delegates.
- In this case, conventions decide who the nominee will be.
A sharp rise in a candidate's approval after his respective party's national convention has pulled an image of unity.
Differences Between Primary and General Elections
- In primaries, the candidate must compete against others of the his same party, while in general elections, the candidate competes against the other party.
- In primaries, candidates are more extreme to win the votes of their political base, while in general elections, candidates lean to the center to gain national approval.
- Created to insulate the government from the whims of the uneducated public.
- Each state's college size determined by number of legislators (representatives + 2 senators).
- Winner of the general election in each state wins all votes.
Voting a candidate of one party for the presidency and voting a candidate of the other party for legislators.