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05 September 2007

Keeping Informed: Presidental Elections

Part of being chic and charming is being well informed. Could you keep up your end of a dinner conversation on the current presidential race? I found myself out for a beer the other night with my boss and the conversation turned to politics. While I was able to hold up my end of the conversation, I decided I would have felt much better about the whole thing if I had been better informed. So, here I present a few notes from online readings on the upcoming election.

***Only 25% of people between the ages of 18-29 voted in the 2004 election, while around 60% of the general population got out to vote. So, Register to vote!***

Choosing your party and your candidate
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  • Before you can know your candidate or even your party, you must decide what issues matter to you. Are you passionate about abortion? Are you sick of seeing all of you hard earned money deposited in government coffers? Do you want socialized health care? Do you think we should pull out of Iraq? Are any of these beliefs deal breakers? For example, you might feel so strongly about the war that you could never vote for a candidate that did not support a defined pull out date. Or, you could feel so strongly about abortion that you could not support a candidate who had prolife/prochoice beliefs.
  • You should know your party. Are you with the Republicans? Democrats? Libertarians? Green Party? Check out their websites and see who's values best align with your own.
  • Pick your candidate. Even within each political party there is a great deal of variation, so there might be one candidate who's values best match up with your own. Don't pick your candidate based solely on what you see on TV. Read your candidate's website, find out about what experience he/she has in government and what his/her actual record is on the issues you care about.
Who are the top five Republican candidates?
repub pres
  • According to CNN.com, the current front runner for the Republican nomination is Rudy Giuliani with 27% of registered Republican voters favoring the former mayor of New York. Giuliani is famous for leading New York City through the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
  • With 19% of registered Republicans favoring him, Fred Thompson, who has not declared himself as a candidate should probably consider a serious run. Do you think he looks familiar? Well, that is because he plays the DA on Law and Order. This former senator from Tennessee will allegedly be declaring his candidacy this week.
  • John McCain is the third place candidate, with 14% of registered Republicans supporting his candidacy. McCain is no stranger to the presidential primaries, he was one of Bush's most serious rivals in the 2000 presidential primaries.
  • Newt Gingrich is fourth on the list, and another undeclared candidate with no real sign that he will actually join the race. Gingrich served as the House Majority Leader during the Clinton administration, but resigned after receiving ethics sanctions.
  • The fifth candidate, with 11% of registered Republicans supporting him, is Mit Romney. Romney spent one term as the governor of Massachusetts. He is somewhat controversial because of his religious beliefs (he is Mormon).
Who are the top five Democratic candidates?
dem cand
  • The top Democratic candidate is Hillary Clinton with 40% of Democrats supporting the former first lady. While her husband was in office, Hilary worked towards health care reform. Currently she is the junior senator from New York.
  • Barack Obama trails Clinton by nearly twenty percent, and is the second place Democratic candidate. Obama is a US senator from Illinois, and was previously a member of the Illinois state legislature.
  • As the Vice Presidential candidate from the last presidential election, John Edwards should look familiar. Edwards is a former senator from North Carolina and is currently the third place democratic candidate with support from 13% of Democrats.
  • While he has not declared his candidacy (and is probably unlikely to do so), 11% of Democrats would like former Vice President Al Gore to run for president again. There is currently a grass roots campaign to convince Gore to take time off from his environmental crusading and run for President again.
  • Bill Richardson is the current Governor of New Mexico and the fifth place candidate for the Democratic nomination with support from 5% of Democrats. Richardson has experience in national and international politics as a former congressman, UN ambassador and US energy secretary.
When will the official party nominees be chosen?
For simplicities sake, I will only discuss the two major political parties. Right now there are at least ten different candidates running for each party, so when will the field begin to narrow? The official nominations will be made at each party's national convention. The Democratic National Convention will begin on August 25, 2008 while the Republican National Convention will begin September 1, 2008. Mere months later (November 4th), we hold the presidential election! While these conventions represent the "official" nomination of the major party's candidates, it is often obvious long before this who will be nominated by each party. Each party holds primaries and caucuses in each state to allow voters who have registered as either Democrat or Republican (generally speaking) to voice their opinion on which candidate they prefer. With each progressive primary or caucus it becomes more and more obvious who the party is supporting, front runners continue to campaign and those who lag behind drop out of the election process. Primaries are essentially similar to standard elections, while caucuses are a bit more complicated.
More information: primary, caucus, when can you vote

Images sources listed on Flickr (here and here)

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