U.S. election: What's a primary anyway, and why does it matter?

For Canadians accustomed to electing their federal government on an election day that rolls around once every four years, the prolonged presidential election process south of the border may seem confusing.

See Full Article

As both Democratic and Republican presidential hopefuls focus on the New Hampshire primaries on Tuesday, CTVNews.ca takes a closer look at the voting process and its part in the U.S. presidential election.

What are primaries?

In an election year, U.S. states hold either primaries or caucuses in which registered voters choose nominees to attend the national party conventions where the presidential candidates will be selected.

Most U.S. states hold primaries -- a statewide process of selecting delegates through a secret ballot.

Primaries rely on a traditional ballot system that would be familiar to Canadian voters.

During an open primary, held in 19 states, including Texas and Virginia, voters can cast ballots for a candidate from any political party.

In a closed primary, individuals can vote only for a candidate representing the political party to which they belong. For example, a voter who registered as a Republican can only vote in the Republican primary.

Most U.S. states hold closed primaries.

What are caucuses?

Caucuses are more akin to public meetings, that include speeches and debates before the voting takes place.

Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, North Dakota, Wyoming and Iowa are the only states to rely solely on the caucus voting format.

Caucuses allow participants to openly show support for candidates, and voting is often done by raising hands. Typically, registered voters can only participate in the caucus that they’re affiliated to.

Why are Iowa and New Hampshire so important?

Iowa, which uses a caucus system, and New Hampshire, which holds primaries, are the first states to vote in a presidential election year. In these races, candidates can either gain momentum or decide whether it's time to bow out of the race.

In the last 10 New Hampshire primaries, the winner of the Republican race went on to become the eventual nominee eight times. On the Democratic side, seven winners went on to become the party's presidential candidate.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Palestinian kills three members of Israeli family in West Bank stabbing [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    JERUSALEM — Israel’s military fortified its troops in the West Bank and placed forces on high alert Saturday, a day after a Palestinian stabbed to death three members of an Israeli family and some of the worst Israeli-Palestinian clashes in years erupted over tensions at the Holy Land’s most contested shrine. Source
  • Crane collapse kills 7, injures 2 in southern Chinese city

    World News CTV News
    BEIJING -- A crane leaned and collapsed on a construction site of a major infrastructure company in southern China, killing seven people and injuring two, authorities said Sunday. The collapse occurred late Saturday at the construction site for the southern headquarters of the state-owned China Communications Construction Co. Source
  • Alberta Progressive Conservatives and Wildrose vote 95% in favour of merger

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    The Wildrose Party approved unifying with Progressive Conservatives in an historic vote Saturday. Just over ninety-five per cent of Wildrose members voted yes for unity, well above the 75 per cent majority it needed to give the merger a go-ahead. Source
  • B.C. wildfire evacuation lifted for hundreds as federal government promises funds

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    KAMLOOPS, B.C. — The federal government is promising more funding to support residents affected by raging wildfires in British Columbia as some of the thousands of people displaced prepare to return home. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the government will supply $600 per household evacuated due to wildfires and $300 for their eventual return — funds that will be managed and distributed by the Canadian Red Cross. Source
  • Wildrose, Progressive Conservative parties to merge with 95% approval

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    The Wildrose Party approved unifying with Progressive Conservatives in an historic vote Saturday. Just over ninety-five per cent of Wildrose members voted yes for unity, well above the 75 per cent majority it needed to give the merger a go-ahead. Source
  • Princess Diana's last conversation with her sons recounted in documentary

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- It was a typical phone call between two boys playing and their mother, who was on vacation in France. It was brief -- the boys wanted to get back to playing with their cousins, not spend time on the phone chatting. Source
  • O.J. Simpson's brand out of juice

    World News Toronto Sun
    Can O.J. have a fourth quarter comeback? Not without a game ball. O.J. isn’t the first celebrity to grace his mug on a mugshot, and many have made their way back to the top — Hugh Grant, Keifer Sutherland, Britney Spears and Robert Downey Jr. Source
  • Wildrose votes yes to unity with 95% of the vote

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    The Wildrose Party approved unifying with Progressive Conservatives in an historic vote Saturday. Just over ninety-five per cent of Wildrose members voted yes for unity, well above the 75 per cent majority it needed to give the merger a go-ahead. Source
  • What’s next for O.J. Simpson? [Photos]

    World News Toronto Sun
    At times, during O.J. Simpson’s parole hearing it seemed as though the battered old jock was moving his body like he was evading bruising linebackers. The big man on campus. Bobbing. Weaving. Jocular. Locker room O.J. O.J. Source
  • 9/11 victim's wife disgusted by $10.5M Khadr deal [Photos]

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    The widow of a Toronto businessman killed in the World Trade Centre on 9/11 says its sickening that the Liberal government has allowed terrorist Omar Khadr to play the victim card and collect $10.5 million. Maureen Basnicki’s husband, Ken Basnicki, was in New York City on business when he was killed in the North Tower on Sept. Source