If you’re not from the United States, you may not be aware of the fact that the US is having its national election on Tuesday, November 6.
Approximately 1/3 of the US Senate is up for election. Senators are elected on a statewide basis for six-year terms.
All 435 members of the House of Representatives are up for election. The number of districts in each state is dependent on its population. The breakdown changes every 10 years, after the decennial Census. The results of the 2010 Census will alter the makeup of the House for the 2012 election. From the Census Bureau:
“Among the eight states gaining seats, Texas will gain four seats and Florida will gain two seats. The other six states (Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington) will each gain one seat.Of the ten states losing seats, two states, New York and Ohio, will each lose two seats. The other eight states (Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania) will each lose one seat.”
Even the states that have the same number of seats will have to change its Congressional boundaries (except for the states with only one House member, of course), to reflect population shifts within the state, based on the doctrine of One person, one vote.
The Democratic Party is fielding the incumbent, President Barack Obama of Illinois, with his running mate, Vice-President Joe Biden of Delaware. The Republican Party candidate is putting up former Massachusetts governor Willard Mitt Romney, with his running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Since about the year 1800, the President and VP have run as a ticket. There are a number of “third party” candidates who have approximately a zero percent chance of winning the election.
The nomination process is rather peculiar for both major parties. Some states have what are called caucuses, while other states have primaries. But even the rules of primaries vary from state to state, with some having “closed” primaries (only members of that party can vote) while others have more “open” primaries, (voters who are not enrolled in either party may vote, and in a few states, voters from the OPPOSING party may participate!)
The Presidential election is not decided by the popular vote nationally, but rather by the vote in each state, which gets representatives to something called the Electoral College. Each state gets electors equal to its number of members of Congress (House plus Senate); the District of Columbia also gets three electors.
In 49 of 51 geographies, except for Maine and Nebraska, there are winner-take-all contests. Thus, some states are not generally contested by the candidates. New York, it is surmised, will go to Obama; Texas is safe for Romney. Therefore, the race is generally run in the so-called battleground states.
As a New Yorker, I don’t see many of the Presidential campaign ads that run in states such as Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia. A good political map can be seen at Real Clear Politics.
Re: “the dozens of political tell-alls…that appear each election cycle.” The Center of Gravitas Best and Worst Seller List helps “you navigate which books would be likely to fly off the shelves and which would be reduced to the bargain bin.”