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Keys to the primaries in the United States: the first step towards the White House

The race for the White House begins in the United States with a primary process in which the two major parties must choose what their formula will be to aspire to the highest political office in the country. The Constitution does not stipulate the operation of this complex pre-electoral machinery, but since the early 1970s a method has been in force that gives considerable weight to citizens, to the detriment of the leadership of the main political formations.

The turning point came in 1972, when the parties introduced a binding primary system after the scandal recorded four years earlier, when Democrat Hubert Humphrey guaranteed himself the presidential candidacy without having won a single previous vote. Until then, primaries were just a popularity contest that parties were not obliged to abide by, as was made clear in 1968 with Humphrey.

The current system encourages a competition that takes place in the first half of the election year, based on a calendar that is divided by states. Depending on each territory, a primary system is used, comparable to a traditional ballot box vote, or caucus, in which citizens linked to a certain party debate and elect their favorites, in some cases by show of hands and without the need for ballots.

In any case, the election is not direct, whether through primaries or caucuses, what citizens are deciding is the composition of the delegation of said state in the national conventions, where the proclamation of the person who will represent will be formally made. to training in the general elections – this year they will take place on November 5 -. The Republican Party will hold its convention between July 15 and 18 in Milwaukee (Wisconsin), while the Democrats will meet from August 19 to 22 in Chicago (Illinois).

Tradition indicates that the electoral race starts in Iowa, in the case of the Republicans, on January 15. Six days later, on January 23, it will be New Hampshire’s turn, with double primaries to which followers of the two major parties are invited, which will allow us to see what the first trends are.

A date marked in red throughout this calendar will continue to be known as ‘Super Tuesday’. On March 5, more than a dozen states, including California and Texas, are called to vote on a day that usually establishes a turning point, to the extent that leaving ‘Super Tuesday’ without options usually implies premature abandonment. and, on the other hand, an accumulation of victories consolidates candidacies.

Technically, the process lasts until early June, although results are often taken for granted weeks or even months in advance. By the end of March, more than half of the delegates will have been distributed and, in 2020, Senator Bernie Sanders announced his departure from the Democratic primaries at the beginning of April and paved the way for Joe Biden to win the electoral candidacy, while that on the Republican side there was no rival for the then president, Donald Trump.

The scenario is now reversed, since it is Biden who asserts his place in the Oval Office and has the race clear. Among the Republicans, on the other hand, the swords are raised, although only a handful of candidates aspire to overthrow the favorite Trump, who aspires to repeat the electoral confrontation of November 2020 despite the numerous judicial fronts he has open.

To run in the primaries, no requirements are established other than those contemplated in the Constitution to be president of the United States: having been born in the North American country and lived there for at least 14 years and being over 35 years of age. The law does not establish limits for accused people like Trump.

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