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US 2020 - Electing A US President

In early November of 2020, Americans will vote to decide who will be their next president, and who will be in charge of one of the most powerful and influential nations on the global stage. The process of getting to that point is a long and winding one that will include a bevy of polling and fundraising and campaign rallies across the country.

Before getting to the general election however, the US must first decide who will be nominated from the two major parties, the Democrats and Republicans, to face off against one another in the general election a year and a half from now. 

For the Republicans, the choice is already set in stone, with the current president Donald Trump almost assuredly being the Republican nominee to face off against whatever candidate the Democrats choose. While it is true that former governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld has declared he is running against Trump in the Republican primary, Weld has almost no chance of doing anything more than dropping Trump a few digits in the general election.

Despite the Republican side of things being quite definitive, the Democrats are in an almost inverse position. With a field of around 24 people vying for the Democratic nomination, it is difficult to say at this stage who will come out on top. Though it's probably true that some candidates currently polling at around one or two percent like Ohio House of Representative member Tim Ryan, Massachusetts representative Seth Moulton or Maryland representative John Delaney have no chance of getting the nomination, there are several more who are top contenders.

Former vice president Joe Biden has been polling the highest in the majority of polls, while senator Bernie Sanders usually comes in second, though after a recent Democratic debate, senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren are hot on his heels and the number two spot has been moving towards Harris or Warren in recent polls. Recently, one of the candidates, California House member Eric Swalwell, dropped out of the primary in order to focus on his House race. Swalwell was polling around one percent, so it is unlikely his departure will impact the race at all. It's possible that his departure will signal many of the candidates polling around that same percent, almost 15 of them, that they should probably drop out of the race to make room for the people that have a shot at winning. As it stands, Biden, Sanders, Warren, Harris, Pete Buttigieg and maybe Beto O'Rourke are the only candidates that have an actual chance at going anywhere in the primary. The other 18 or so candidates are so far behind in terms of both polling and recognition that it is unlikely they will be able to distinguish themselves enough to get close to the front runners. 

While there has only been one debate so far, the polling after the debate showcased how far behind many of the candidates are from getting at the front runners. The debate gave a boost to Warren and Harris, while Biden and Sanders slipped, but for the rest of the candidates like Swalwell, it did nothing but confirm that few people are willing to give those candidates a shot. While there are still plenty of debates to go, and it remains to be seen if some other lesser-known candidates can pull ahead like Harris, it is becoming less likely with each new poll that is put out.

In terms of debates, there has been one Democratic debate which featured the top 20 candidates based on those that got enough percent in polls or number of donors. At the end of July there will be a second debate with slightly stricter requirements to get in, though that debate will most likely feature 20 candidates sharing a stage over two nights. Then in September there will be another debate with stricter requirements, where candidates are required to have at least two percent polling and 130,000 people donating to their campaign, while a debate in October with the same requirements. Following that will be debates in November, December, two in January, two in February, March and April, making 12 debates in total. 

The majority of these debates are happening before the first primary in Iowa which holds their primary on February 3 2020, followed by primaries in the other 49 states plus a few territories. The goal of the primary in Iowa is to decide who the states 41 delegates will support in the convention in July. While 41 delegates are decided by who wins how much of the primary in Iowa, 8 additional delegates will be unpledged after the primary. This is because these unpledged delegates are part of the Democratic primaries super delegate system. This system steers the way in which a candidate obtains the Democratic nominations by making some of the 4,765 total delegates able to choose who they want to be the nominee rather than be forced to support whichever candidate won a certain percentage of their states primary.

A candidate must get at least 15 percent of the vote in a primary to receive any of that states delegates, and the number of delegates each candidate gets is decided proportionally, with a candidate getting more delegates the greater percentage of that states primary they won. After the last primary in June, the delegates all convene for the Democratic convention in July to decide who will get the nomination. A candidate needs a majority of the 3,768 pledged delegates, over 1,885, to win the nomination. If a candidate is not able to get enough delegates in this first round at the convention, that is where the 764 super delegates step in to give a candidate at least 2,267 delegates in order to win the nomination. 

After the candidates for the Republican and Democratic parties have been decided, the two will face off in the general election, which is November 3 2020. In the general election, each state has a certain number of electors that are given to the candidate that gets a plurality of the votes in that state. There are a total of 538 electors and a candidate needs to get to 270 in order to win the presidency.

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