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For Non-Americans: What is a Caucus and what is a primary?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by JerichoHill, Feb 12, 2008.

  1. Irish Caesar

    Irish Caesar Yellow Jacket

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    What do you mean by "in" it?

    Although the top party officials are generally elected members of the government, the parties themselves are not part of the government... they're more like organizations that promote candidates and raise funds and stuff for them. One can run for president without a political party at all; the odds generally are long, though...
     
  2. JerichoHill

    JerichoHill Bedrock of Knowledge

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    Parties are not government entities.
     
  3. AVN

    AVN Chieftain

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    As I understand it the state of Washington The Democratic party has caucuses and a non-binding primary.
    What does that mean exactly and why should people still vote in such a primary ?
     
  4. sirdanilot

    sirdanilot BBcode owns in sigs!

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    So why do the state governments organize the elections?

    :rolleyes:
     
  5. AVN

    AVN Chieftain

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    :bump:

    @JerichoHill

    Was this question too difficult to answer ?
    Or do I need to explain (elaborate on) it a little bit more ?

    For me it doesn't make sense if a state has both a primary and a caucus.
    But maybe it's just me.

    Therefore I like your (expert) opinion.

    Thanks in advance for your reply on my (repeated) question :)
     
  6. emzie

    emzie wicked witch of the North

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    States set the rules how an election will happen, parties operate within those rules to place a candidate on the ballot.
     
  7. AVN

    AVN Chieftain

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    That makes sense (even for me as an European :))
    Thanks :)
     
  8. JerichoHill

    JerichoHill Bedrock of Knowledge

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    AVN,

    As for the Washington Primary, its a beauty contest essentially. There isn't a useful reason to have it in Washington State, which is why it receives little fanfare.

    Also, parties set the rules on who can be a candidate and how they handle that candidate's election.
     
  9. AVN

    AVN Chieftain

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    Thanks :)
    This answered my question :)

    I have a great interest in the way citizens of the USA can choose their president. They (the people of the USA) can decide, who will represent their party in the general election. This is something, which is (almost) unknown in Europe. In Europe, such decisions are made in the (smoke-filled) backrooms of the parties.

    But unfortunately (IMHO) the rules, how the candidates are chosen, are very difficult. They are different for democrats and republicans and are different in each state. This makes it difficult to understand the USA president election-process.

    I like the primary system (and I believe it's usefull in selecting candidates), but I also think that's not usefull if it's only a beauty contest (but I believe we agree on that :))

    Again, thanks for your reply :)
     
  10. Samson

    Samson Warlord

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    What is the turnout like at these cacuses / primaries? I tried to find the percentage of the population that voted in the first one, and could not find it anywhere.
     
  11. JerichoHill

    JerichoHill Bedrock of Knowledge

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    AVN,

    Smoke-filled backrooms is how the candidates used to nominated here as well. That did change.

    Turnout is normally half that of that year's general election. Except that this year is showing turnout akin to a general election, so its an exciting year, statistically speaking.

    If you want to look at turnout figures, go to scvotes.org. South Carolina maintains the best darn web statistics on voting behavior that I have ever come across for a state
     
  12. Sims2789

    Sims2789 Fool me once...

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    Also, in some states, independents can vote in primaries/caucuses. In California, for example, independents can vote in the Democratic primary, but not the Republican one, partisans outside the Democratic Party can't vote in its primary, and only Republicans can vote in their primary.

    In Texas, there's a weird system with both a Democratic primary and a caucus. The primary is open (I don't know if Republicans/third parties can vote in the Democratic primary, or if only independents can), but the caucus, which also selects some delegates, is closed and only Democrats can caucus.

    Washington also has a hybrid caucus/primary but the primary selects zero delegates, and their caucus is completely open for both parties. My independent grandfather caucused for the Democrats this year, but he could have caucused for the Republicans like he did before 2004.

    Wow. They're good. There is hope for the South, and there's many good things in it and about it.

    This isn't an isolated incident, either. Georgia lowered their voting age to 18 in 1943.
     
  13. Supermath

    Supermath A Circle Has No End

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    I'm not sure how the 43.5% turnout in SC will translate in the general election, since this time around the primaries are and were very hotly contested. But I have a feeling that it will surpass 2004's total by a decent amount.
     
  14. emzie

    emzie wicked witch of the North

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    Depends how close the race is in November.
     
  15. Supermath

    Supermath A Circle Has No End

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    Unless something unexpected happens, it's probably going to be close. And anyway, people have strong feelings about both of the major Democratic candidates.
     
  16. aaglo

    aaglo Furioso!

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    I didn't know anything about that "caucus"-thing. It seems to me, that you really have to be into the politics to take part in that. It looks like it takes a long time - atleast longer than to draw a number (or whatevery you americans do) in the primary elections.
     
  17. Stapel

    Stapel FIAT 850 coupé

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    A very helpful thread. Thanks JH.
     
  18. Mise

    Mise isle of lucy

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    How do you become a member of a political party? Do you have to pay? Are there any obligations? E.g. are you obligated to vote for whoever is nominated by that party?
     
  19. The Yankee

    The Yankee The New Yawker Retired Moderator

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    Just hand in another voter registration application with a party checked off.

    Of course, the options there are only of parties recognized by the state, of which there are differing requirements. For example, in NY State, to be one of the recognized parties, their candidate at the top of the ticket must receive 50,000 votes in the state general elections. So because of that, New York currently has five recognized parties, although others petition for places on the ballot.

    But New York shouldn't be a gauge of how other states do it only because of the backwards tribal politics that are entrenched here.
     
  20. Stolen Rutters

    Stolen Rutters Chieftain

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    The answer to this is different state by state, too. I'll talk about Michigan, where I live.

    Michigan has no party affiliation on the voter registration form (both Democratica and Republican primaries are open)... but we used to have a Party affiliation check box when I started voting 10-15 years ago. It went away one year, and I haven't seen it since. Maybe they dropped it because it didn't actually mean anything at the time. (It might have been important in the past. Who knows?)

    Oh, and you never had to pay. You can give them donations, and end up on the donor list. You can even volunteer to help a candidate's campaign. But that is as close as a voter can get to a party affiliation in Michigan.
     

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