Independents can vote in California primary

US primaries : Why Many Americans Believe in Caucus and Primary

The US electoral system is often ridiculed as complicated, antiquated and unrelated. Why does the election year begin with the Iowa area code, a farming state in the Midwest that is not representative of the United States? Why do we continue with New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina and don't a large state like California, Florida or Texas take part in the candidate selection right from the start?

Because the pre-election system has proven its worth, many Americans would respond. Certainly not every time, but by and large. It depicts the diversity of the USA. And relies on citizen participation.

If party bodies were to decide which person to run for the White House, Bill Clinton (1992) and Barack Obama (2008) would not have become Democratic candidates. Neither did Donald Trump's 2016 Republican candidate.

The nomination through primaries in all 50 US states is a young tradition. Until the chaotic and divided party conference of the Democrats in Chicago in 1968, which was accompanied by violence and burning barricades, the powerful in the party had the decisive influence on who would run.

Primaries begin in Iowa - first a caucus, then a primary

Within a few years, both camps switched to grassroots participation. The sequence quickly established itself with Iowa as the first state to vote in the "caucus" system, followed by New Hampshire, which holds a "primary". A “caucus” is a gathering organized by the party in the voting district, to which sympathizers of this party come.

A “primary”, on the other hand, is organized by the individual state and is similar to the main election. There are state polling stations; all citizens can participate, regardless of whether they are party members. However, you can only have a say in the top candidacy in one party. Depending on the state, up to a third of citizens take part.

Participation in the selection of candidates is much higher than in Germany; if all parties here practiced primary elections and all members participate - two conditions that are not met - that would only be 1.5 percent of the population.

Early primaries represent important groups of voters

The early area code states are not individually representative of the USA; taken together, however, they represent the most important groups of voters. Iowa (3.2 million residents) is dominated by white farmers and liberal colleges. New Hampshire (1.3 million) is a swing state on the east coast with a high proportion of industry and non-partisan voters.

Nevada (3.1 million) in the western United States with the casino city of Las Vegas and the many Hispanics included the largest minority in the nomination, followed by the southern state of South Carolina (5.1 million) with its large African American population.

Those who survive this pre-filter in four different states have to prove their organizational skills on “Super Tuesday”. On March 3rd, 14 countries will vote in parallel. After that, the preliminary decision has usually been made.

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