Monday, April 25, 2016

U.S. Presidential Election: The Primaries and Caucuses

After months of debates, analysis and headlines the presidential primaries have started and votes are being cast.  The New York Times explains the concept of caucus this way: the Republicans show their preferences by a show of hands or holding a secret ballot.  The Democrats have people gather in candidate groups around the room.  If any candidate or the undecideds don’t have enough supportersusually 15% of the caucus goersthe group is ruled nonviable.  Its members have to realign with other groups and a final count is made.

First we had the Iowa caucuses.  You may think that Iowa is the only state that has a caucus but there are many others including: Feb. 20 Nevada (D); Feb. 23 Nevada (R); March 1  Alaska (R), American Samoa (D), Colorado, Minnesota, North Dakota (R), Wyoming (R); March 5 Kansas, Kentucky (R); March 6 Maine (R), Nebraska (D); March 8 Hawaii; March 12 Northern Marianas (D), District of Columbia (R); March 15 Northern Mariana Islands (R), Virgin Islands; March 22 Idaho (D); March 26 Alaska (D), Hawaii (D), Washington (D); April 9 Wyoming (D); June 4  Virgin Islands (D); June 5 Puerto Rico (D); and June 7 North Dakota (D) all hold caucuses.

A few statesAlaska, Hawaii, Maine Nebraska and Nevadahave their Republican caucus o
n one day and their Democratic caucus on another date. Washington, DC, has a Republican caucus on March 12 and a Democratic primary June 14.

There was a primary in New Hampshire on February 9, 2016. The Granite State used to have its primary in March but has moved the date in order to maintain its first-primary-in-the-nation position.  On March 1, 2015 Massachusetts voted on Super Tuesday, so called because the most states or territories voted on that day—15 in total. Besides our state those places voting on Super Tuesday were: Alabama, Alaska caucus (R), American Samoa caucus (D), Arkansas, Colorado caucus, Georgia, Minnesota caucus, North Dakota caucus (R), Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming.

In the District of Columbia the Republicans caucus on Saturday March 12 and all other registered voters vote in the last primary on Tuesday June 14th.  The last multistate race is on Tuesday June 7th when California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota hold a primary and North Dakota holds a caucus.  The next step after this is the Democratic convention in Philadelphia the week of July 25, 2016 and the Republican Convention in Cleveland between July 18 and 21, 2016. This ritual occurs every four years; it is our democracy in action.

Naomi Allen
Reference Librarian