The 2016 US presidential election campaigns are underway, and they are very entertaining! I do not know to the full extent how this entire presidential election works. I doubt if many, if not majority, of the US citizens even understand how this works! So, I spent a couple of hours on this topic and decided to write about it. If you find any inaccuracies, I will be glad to fix it!
US presidential elections are important not just for the Americans but also for the rest of the world. We live in a world where a political change in one part of the world can have a big impact on some other parts of the world. When it comes to US, a dominant force in the world, any political change impacts nearly every part of the globe, and it is important that we, the rest of the world, know how the elections work!
From my short reading it appears that, contrary to my beliefs, the people do not elect the president directly! Yes, they do not! There is a concept of pledged, unpledged/uncommitted, and super delegates (with some variation between the Democrat and the Republican party). Depending on the state, people either participate in a caucus or a primary to elect the delegates to represent them at their party’s convention. In a caucus, the delegates are chosen directly based on the their preference of a candidate. In a primary, people vote for their preferred candidate or delegate or both on the ballot. The way in which the state delegates are assigned to the candidates depends on whether it is a winner-take-all or a proportional method employed by the state and/or the party! All of these rules differ from one state to another!
Then the conventions take place where the elected delegates from all the states choose a nominee. In most of the states, the Republican rules bind the pledged delegates to vote for the winners from the primaries they represent in the first ballot, first only, at the convention. As highly unlikely it may seem, these rule can be changed before the convention! On the Democrat side, the delegates are not bound at all! Almost always, the conventions will pick the candidate with the majority of delegates from the primaries/caucuses as their nominee because in not doing so, they betray the people that voted for such a majority.
After all this drama, comes the election day where the people vote, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything! Even though the people vote for their candidate, they are technically voting for their electors, and the winning electors in turn vote for the president!!! There are laws in 29 states that the electors can only elect the candidate they have pledged. Only in two states, the stray votes are void. These are the state laws that can be changed by the states! Though there has never been a case where the faithless electors changed the outcome of the entire election, it is certainly a possibility! The election of 1836 is an example where the faithless electors prevented Richard Johnson from vice presidency; however, due to a lack of majority, he was elected by the senate as the vice president. If nobody has the majority, at least 270, of electoral votes, the House gets to vote among the top three candidates and elect a president. All this convoluted process may have been designed to prevent a Trump like situation!
Note: This article, just like every other major news, assumes that Hillary will be the nominee. But Bernie is my choice, and I hope that he wins the nomination.
As the election day gets closer and closer, Trump is holding on to the majority and it is certainly possible that he ends up with the majority of delegates! Who would have thought?! If this happens, he will have to be the nominee unless the rules are changed before the convention. Even if the rules are changed, this will be very undemocratic of the Republican party! If he doesn’t get a majority of 1,237 delegates, which looks unlikely, and decides to take it to the conventions, it may be very difficult for Trump to run as an independent after that due to all the regulations and the deadlines, but still doable with a lot of money! In such a scenario, he would want to get on the ballot wherever possible to take votes away from the Republican nominee. This would ensure that the Democrats win!
Republican leadership wants to make sure that Trump will not be the president from their party, but still wants to win this election. Trump’s victory will have a long lasting negative impact on their party and they will not let it happen. The best case for them is Trump without majority delegates. If that doesn’t happen, there is a way out - a moderate Republican running as an independent! A moderate that could bring the frustrated Republicans that are staying away from the ballot back on the election day to take enough votes away from Hillary and Trump to ensure nobody gets a majority. By doing so the House gets to vote among the top three candidates and it is almost certain that they will pick the independent they backed. If this is their approach, they are running out of time as the deadlines are approaching fast!
On the Democrat side, Hillary and Bernie are too close; however, Hillary is the establishment’s choice and will most likely be the party’s nominee if the current numbers hold up! The chances of Bernie running an as independent is diminishing as each day passes because of the same reasons mentioned above! He has also announced that he will not be running as an independent candidate if Hillary is the party’s nominee so as to make sure he will not split the Democrat votes which will benefit the Republicans tremendously. However, Trump factor wasn’t in play at that time of Bernie’s announcement, and having Bernie in the mix would have definitely blocked a majority for the Democrats.
The situation has changed now. If there is an independent in the run that could take a few electoral votes away from Hillary and Trump, nobody will get a majority. If this possible threesome pans out, Bernie might as well jump in the party however highly unlikely it may seem! This makes it impossible to have a clear majority; if the independent backed by the Republicans doesn’t end up in the top three, the house will either have to choose between Hillary, Trump, and Bernie or go without anyone. If it is the latter, the vice president-elect will act as the president until a president is elected. If vice president-elect isn’t available, speaker of the house, Paul Ryan, will act as the president until a president and a vice president are elected.
This scene is about to get very dirty!