How does the US choose its President?

In November 2016, the United States of America will choose a new leader after a drawn-out and extensive campaign.

So, who can become President? Who gets to pick the presidential candidate for each party? What are primaries and caucuses? When does this all begin and when does it end? We explain


Interesting facts


Primaries and caucuses were never included in the U.S. Constitution but were created over time by the political parties.


The overall results of the primaries process may not be representative of the U.S. electorate as a whole. The states that have historically held primaries and caucuses first, in February, have a much larger influence on individual races. These states include Iowa and New Hampshire. However large states such as California, which usually hold their primaries in June, end up having minimal impact on the races because the candidate for each party has more or less been picked by then. Some states seek to hold primaries earlier to have a greater influence on the process.


Primaries may be closed or open. An open primary is a primary election that does not require voters to be affiliated with a political party in order to vote for candidates. Each voter cannot, however, participate in more than one primary. A closed primary does require party affiliation for voters. A third less common type of primary, the blanket primary, allows registered voters to participate in all primaries.


1. U.S. State Department, Library

2. >U.S. Government, Information Service

3. >Council on Foreign Relations

4. >AM New York: 2016 caucuses and primaries: An explainer

5. >“The Presidential Nominating Process and the National Party Conventions, 2016” Congressional Research Service

(Compiled by >Narayan Lakshman)

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Printable version | May 3, 2021 11:50:48 AM |

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