Note to Self – You Have to Hire a New President
Although primary season has been in full swing for quite a while, the party’s just now coming to Oregon. Ballots are due on May 17, so if you haven’t already mailed yours, find a drop box and get it in there.
Since it’s a presidential election year, and a little crazier than most, P2 thought that this might be a good time to review the way primaries, delegates, conventions and the electoral college work. Here are a few things you might be wondering:
Why aren’t all the candidates I’m hearing about on my ballot?
Because they’re from a different party than the one you’re registered for. Primary elections are held so that political parties (Republican, Democratic, and Independent) can pick the person they like best to run for office. So if you signed up as a Republican, you’re going to see Donald Trump on your ballot for president, but not Hillary Clinton. Not signed up with any political party at all? Your ballot will contain the names of candidates running for non-partisan offices such as judges, school boards, and various local governing districts.
What Is “Delegate Math?” and Why Do I Care?
Delegate math is the process by which all those primary election wins are turned into national convention participants (delegates) who pick each party’s presidential candidate. In all, there are 2,472 Republican delegates and 4,763 Democrat delegates. In order to win a party’s nomination outright, a candidate has to have more than 50%. Left your calculator at home? That means a Republican needs 1,237, and a Democrat needs 2,382.
Most years, Oregon’s delegates don’t factor into the race for delegates – the number each state gets is based on population, and Oregon is small. But this year, the races are close, and the candidates want Oregon on their side.
What if none of the candidates get to 50% of the delegates before the conventions?
Nobody gets happier about this scenario than the political junkies. In order to be a party’s nominee, a candidate has to win the majority of delegates at the national convention. There’s almost always a candidate who has the majority of delegates going into the convention, but this year, it’s close. Here’s how it could play out, if things don’t go just right:
· First Vote: Delegates cast their ballots. A lot of them are “pledged,” (required to vote the way their state voted in the primary). If a candidate gets a majority, the trick is up. If not, they have another vote, and it becomes a contested convention (also called an open or brokered convention). This is where the political nerds start to get worked up.
· Second Vote: Delegates vote again. Except this time a lot of them are “unbound,” aka off the hook for voting the way their state voted. Not surprisingly, this is where the schmoozing, networking and lobbying happens as candidates try to get delegates to vote for them.
· If there still isn’t a winner, delegates keep voting until there’s a majority. Yes, this could take a while. But look at it this way – there’s plenty of time between the conventions and the general election.
So What Happens Next? – Here’s The Timeline:
July 18-21: Republican National Convention
Look out Cleveland, the elephants (ahem, Republicans) are headed your way. This is where the parties start, the delegate votes are taken, and the candidates are chosen.
July 25 – 28: Democratic National Convention
All donkeys please report to Philadelphia, PA (that would be the Democrats). There will be a similarly rambunctious party in Pennsylvania, and hopefully, a candidate will emerge from this one too.
September 8: Voter Registration Deadline for the General Election
If you are registered through Oregon’s motor voter law, you might also want to sign up with a political party (although it’s not necessary).
September 26: First Presidential Debate
The first face off of the two presidential candidates.
October 4: Vice Presidential Debate
Vice Presidential candidates generally try to show that they are strong in areas where their presidential candidates are perceived as less than competent.
October 9: Second Presidential Debate
Getting closer to the big day . . . This is a second chance for presidential candidates to impress the voters.
October 19: Third Presidential Debate