Sunday, December 5, 2021

The Run-Up To The US Presidential Elections Gathers Momentum

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The process for the US Presidential elections, in which the 46th US President will be elected in November 2020, has begun in earnest. For the Republican Party (Grand Old Party or GoP), President Donald Trump has won 1099 delegates in the various state primaries and caucuses. He needs a total of 1276 delegates to win the Presidential nomination from the Republican Party. For the Democratic Party, the contest has narrowed down to former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, with Mr. Biden taking lead after winning some important states in the “Super Tuesday” primaries. Fourteen states and American Samoa held presidential primaries on Super Tuesday. The contests will award 1,344 national pledged delegates, more than a third of the total available in the 2020 Democratic race. The candidate that wins the majority of the delegates will be nominated to represent the Democratic Party in the Presidential elections.

Before the elections, most candidates for President go through a series of state primaries and caucuses. They let the states choose the major political parties’ nominees for the elections. At stake in each primary or caucus is a certain number of delegates. These are individuals who represent their state at national party conventions. The candidate who receives a majority of the party’s delegates wins the nomination. The candidate wining the maximum number of delegates is nominated as the Presidential candidate at the party’s national convention.

Thereafter they start the process of campaigning for the Presidential elections. The Presidential candidates go head-to-head campaigning throughout the country. They go on rallies and take part in debates to win the support of voters across the nation. The United States is the oldest democracy in the world; the President and Vice President are not elected directly by the people but by the Electoral College. After ballots have been cast, all votes go to a state-wide tally. Washington DC and 48 states use the winner-takes-all procedure where the election winner receives all the electors in that state. Maine and Nebraska are the exceptions because they have a proportional system. A candidate has to “win” at least 270 electors to become President.

After a huge Super Tuesday — and with all his major opponents except Sen. Bernie Sanders having dropped out—former Vice President Joe Biden is a strong favourite to win the Democratic Party nomination. He has won the important states of Missouri, Michigan, Mississippi and Idaho, and has 820 delegates to 670 delegates of his nearest rival Bernie Sanders.

In the other important primary, in terms of delegates Florida, Arizona, Illinois and Ohio have also voted. Some of Bernie Sanders’ support base states such as California and Nevada have already voted. The upcoming states generally are predicted to support Joe Biden or have relatively few delegates so that Sanders is unlikely to close the delegates’ gap. Many predict that his main support base of young progressives and Hispanics, are not a large enough groups to constitute a winning coalition in most states. They also point to the fact that Joe Biden has a wider support base including the African American community.

Perhaps understanding the need to consolidate their support and mount a challenge to President Trump’s campaign Joe Biden in a speech in Philadelphia, called for unity of the party and indicating that he hopes to have the support of Mr. Sanders in the future. The Democrats are also keen to avoid a prolonged primary, similar to the 2016 elections, which they feel would aid President Trump’s re-election efforts. Nonetheless, the elections in November will indicate if the Democrats have been able to continue with their winning spree which saw them regain the majority in the House of Representatives or President Trump will remain in power based on his policies.

The US Presidential elections would also be keenly watched by India, the world’s largest democracy. Though the democratic systems in the two countries are different, both nations are enjoined by shared values of democracy, freedom, equality, justice and rules based order.


Script: Dr. Stuti Banerjee, Strategic Analyst On American Affairs

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