So again we will begin to embark on the long drawn out rollercoaster that is the United States Presidential elections. The whole process takes over a year and is a hugely complicated process governed by state law, federal laws and party traditions.
So before we have a look at the candidates for the next year’s elections, I will explain a little bit more about the process itself. First of all we have the nomination processes run by the political parties culminating in their respective presidential nominating conventions for every party intending to field a candidate for election to the Office of President. Nowadays these are merely a ceremonial affair with the candidate of that party who has earned the most votes earning the nomination. However originally the nominating convention was as the name suggests, a genuine vote accompanied with all the political manoeuvring that goes with any major ballot. There are two major differences between the nominations and the actual election. US territories can send delegates to vote at the convention, while they have no representation in the election. The second is that while the presidential election is strictly defined by the constitution of the United States and regulated by the Federal Election Commission whereas the nominations are run by the parties and are not legally required parts of the process.
The nominations take place over many months, encompassing many different votes such as primaries and caucuses in a variety of states. Primary elections are public votes, to decide who the favoured republican and democrats are in each state. A caucus differs as it is a meeting and private vote of members of each political party. Each potential presidential candidate is presented with a veritable gold mine of opportunities to speak publicly and advance their own political views. It offers voters a good chance to see each candidates policies in key areas. It’s during this process that many candidates are gradually whittled down to the final few, as for those with the least support, the votes dwindle and the money dries up until they declare themselves out. As for those who keep getting the votes, they keep rolling on until the national convention for their respective party. This is where each party nominates its presidential candidate and their running mate, the man or woman who will assume the office of Vice-President if elected.
The conventions on this election cycle are scheduled for September 3rd-6th 2012 in Charlotte, the largest city in North Carolina for the Democratic Party. Whilst their Republican counterparts are scheduled to convene in Tampa Bay, Florida on August 27th of the same year, this leads straight into the campaign, two months of campaigning until Election Day which will be Tuesday 6th November and then within 24 hours the votes will be counted and the electoral college will meet to name the next president of the United States.
Now we shall have a look through the likely and potential candidates.
For the Democratic Party, there are currently only two candidates running. Of these, only one, the incumbent president of the United States has any serious chance.
Randall Terry – holds strong pro-life and anti LGBT views, unusual policies for a candidate contesting the democratic nomination, another strange occurrence is for a sitting president to face a challenger from within his own party. Terry is no true democrat having already contested congress and senate seats under the auspices of the Republican party. Even more bizarre is that he intends to spend more than $3 million for a single advert at the Superbowl. His extremist views and statements are both inflammatory and abhorrent.
Barack Obama – The President of the United States. He is probably the most liberal candidate that has any real chance of even making it to Election Day. His re-election campaign is focused on issues such as affordable healthcare and energy independence.
For the Republican Party, we have a plethora on candidates with several having the money and influence to actually win the nomination, those are who we shall see represented here.
Michelle Bachman - is a three term congresswoman fromMinnesota, well known as the Congressional representative of the Tea Party, the far right of the Republican Party. She made headlines in 2010 for raising $13 million to re-elect her to the seat in the House of Representatives. Although recently her popularity has taken a nosedive, she is known for voicing controversial opinions as well as making blatantly false claims to score political points such as claiming Gardasil, the widely heralded cervical cancer vaccine, causes “Mental Retardation”. She is shaping up to be the “Sarah Palin” of this election.
Herman Cain – A black cancer survivor who hosts his own talk show in Atlanta. He has also served as the chairman of the federal bank ofKansas City. He also served as a mathematician for the US Navy; he has a reputation as an excellent debater. He campaigns on issues such as the size of the federal government and the economy as well as holding fairly liberal views on issues of race. At the moment with just over a year to go until the election, he is the Republican front runner.
Newt Gringrich – Once third in line of succession to the presidency, the former speaker of the house hopes to go two better in 14 months time. Although he has been out of mainstream politics since 1999, he has kept in with the republican party working on various policy initiatives in the past decade. He has also written 25 books and made documentaries with his wife mainly about areas of American history.
Rick Perry – ‘I full well believe I am going to win’ was Governor Perry’s confident claim when asked about his chances after declaring his candidacy. As the incumbent governor of Texas, with strong views on same-sex marriage, gun control, capital punishment and defence, he is eerily reminiscent to George W. Bush who was elected president for his first term in November 2000. He will be able to attract a lot of republican votes, the problem for him will lie in his extreme conservatism will alienate a lot of swing voters. He is one of the front-runners for the Republican nomination.
Jon Huntsman – His resume is extremely impressive, served as an aide to presidents Reagan and Clinton. He considers Barack Obama a friend of his as well as the vice president of China. While he was governor of Utah, he had approval ratings of almost 80%. This is very rare figure in top tier politics, where a 60:40 split is considered a landslide. Rising from an aide to an ambassador at the tender age of 32, he was posted as the US ambassador to Singapore. He was later promoted to ambassador to China. This practising Mormon is one of the more liberal Republican candidates on social issues. However the father of seven has proved to be excellent at managing budgets, reducing taxes inUtah by over $400 million dollars as well as also serving as CEO of his families company which took over $9 billion (£5 billion) in sales revenue last financial year.
Rick Santorum – A former two term congressman and senator from Pennsylvania, perhaps best known for his “Google problem”; type Santorum into everyones favourite search engine and you’ll find out what I mean. This attack upon him was sparked after comments he made in 2003 press conference on homosexuality. He proclaims to have “The courage to fight for America”. He commands little support in the GOP and has but a slim chance for the nomination.
Mitt Romney – If Cain is currently in the lead, Romney is but a whisker behind if national polls are to be believed. As governor of Massachusetts, he reversed a budget deficit of almost $700 million, so that within his term they were actually running with a budget surplus. A graduate of Harvard law and business schools, he is yet another Mormon in the race and with a real chance of winning the nomination, Mitt Romney could quite possibly be the next American president.
I have only covered some of the candidates; however the faces of the candidates are an ever changing array of men and women. In the time I have been writing this article, there has been a change from an open field with 8-10 potential nominees for the Grand Old Party, up to now where except in the event of a major upheaval Barack Obama will face Herman Cain or Mitt Romney.
In my opinion, Barack Obama will most likely retain the presidency, even with his disastrous recent fiscal mismanagements. I think that it is most likely any candidate that opposes him will be too conservative to win the popular vote. Although it will be interesting to see how the demographic splits if Herman Cain opposes Obama as that would split the black vote of whom 96% supported Obama in 2008.
If I could pick anyone to vote for it would probably be Jon Huntsman Jr, one of the few candidates I could honestly vote for without hating myself, although he really is the best of a bad bunch. However, an extremely well-credentialed man, he carries very little of the popular vote, currently polling around 2%. It is unlikely he will feature much more in this election cycle.