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Assess the factors that determine the outcome of US Presidential elections

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Assess the factors that determine the outcome of US Presidential elections? (60) When looking at the factors that determine the outcome of Presidential elections we must first look at the credentials a candidate needs in order to even consider running for office. As affirmed in Article II of the Constitution they need to be a natural-born US citizen, at least 35 years of age, and have been a resident in the US for at least 14 years. (After 1951, an amendment was passed stating that a person cannot serve more than 2 terms as president). US Presidential elections are used to choose representatives for a fixed-term period in office (of four years). There are always held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November and the system employed is FPTP, a simple majority system. A presidential election can be split up into two distinct stages; the first being concerned with choosing the candidates; and the second is concerned with electing the President. Because the parties in the US don't have 'leaders' in the way UK parties do, and it is therefore necessary for them to choose a suitable candidate to carry forward into phase two of the process stand in the presidential election. ...read more.


(Another purpose of the campaign is not only to reach out to as many people as possible, but also to ensure that those people actually turnout and vote - the parties and PAC's play an important role in trying to rectify this problem). Sources of income for Presidential elections come from the individual candidate, interested individuals, interest groups operating through PAC's and political parties. The role of money in US Presidential elections has long been a controversial, as have the sources of funding. Concerns that money is too influential in determining election outcomes and that individual donor's might expect political favors in return for their money have come to head in the 1970's. Since FECA in 1974, there have been various attempts of further reform. Senators McCain and Feingold tried unsuccessfully for a number of years, and finally got the 2002 Bipartisan Act (banning 'soft money') passed on the basis that restrictions on how money is spent is unconstitutional as it is an infringement on the right to freedom of expression. ...read more.


Traditionally, Presidential candidates have chosen a running mate who compliments himself both in background, style and policy - i.e. so that they are a 'balanced ticket' (e.g. GWB and Cheney). This is important (although not essential as seen with Clinton and Gore) as it helps the candidate ascertain the political 'middle ground' in conjunction to the concept of 'Triangulation'. (Hence, the Democrats need to show 'social conservatism' as much as possible and similarly the Republicans need to pursue 'compassionate conservatism'). This can also be achieved through projected policies and political stances on certain issues. It has been proved that the candidate, who occupies the political 'middle ground' the best, wins elections. In conclusion, those who do vote, do so in the light of various influences, of which their long-term party identification has traditionally been the most important. However, in a television age, in which campaigning is conducted in a more visible way then ever before and in which the amount of information available has dramatically increased, the merits of the candidate and issues of the time have become particularly relevant, and ultimately decides elections. ...read more.

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