conventions and replay highlights. As a result, candidates receive a postconvention “bounce” as their standing in the polls goes up temporarily just as the general election begins. The Electoral College The president and vice president are chosen by the Electoral College as specified in the Constitution. Voters do not directly elect the president but choose electors — representatives from their state who meet in December to select the president and vice president. To win the presidency, a candidate must obtain a majority of the electors, at least 270 out of the 538 total. The statewide winner-take-all by state system obliges them to put much of their time and money into swing states where the contest is close. Except for Maine and Nebraska, states operate under a winner-take-all system: the candidate with the most votes cast in the state, even if fewer than a majority, receives all its electoral votes. Link Electoral College Information The US National Archives and Records Administration has a resource for the Electoral College at . It is possible to win the election without winning the popular vote, as George W. Bush did in 2000 with about half a million fewer votes than Democrat Al Gore. The Electoral College decision depended on who won the popular vote in Florida, where voting was contested due to problems with ballots and voting machines. The voting in Florida was so close that the almost two hundred thousand ballots thrown out far exceeded Bush’s margin of victory of a f ew hundred votes. KEY TAKEAWAYS Presidential elections involve caucuses, primaries, the national party convention, the general election, and the Electoral College. Presidential hopefuls vie to be their party’s nominee by collecting delegates through state caucuses and primaries. Delegates attend their party’s national nominating convention to select the presidential nominee. The presidential candidate selects his vice presidential running mate who is approved at the convention. Voters in the general election select electors to the Electoral College who select the president and vice president. It is possible for a candidate to win the popular vote and lose the general election. EXERCISES
Saylor URL: Saylor.org 433 1. What is the difference between a caucus and a primary? Why might caucuses and primaries produce different results? 2. What is the purpose of national party conventions, if presidential nominees are no longer really chosen at them? 3. How does the Electoral College system differ from a system in which voters choose the president directly?  Costas Panagopoulos, ed., Rewiring Politics: Presidential Nominating Conventions in the Media Age (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2007).