With just two days to go for US polls, the focus is on the complex and lengthy electoral processes in the world’s oldest democracy that are vastly different from how leaders are elected in India, which is the largest democracy. The electoral fight between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton has captured international attention, with American media describing the heated 2016 presidential election as the most unconventional in the country’s history.
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Both candidates have set records for unpopularity and have emerged as the most hated US presidential hopefuls ever. For instance, a Pew poll conducted in September showed widespread disenchantment towards this year’s presidential contest among American voters.
This presidential election saw a campaign in which sober policy discussion has been drowned by personal insults and base offensives. Both Clinton and Trump are among the oldest general election candidates in US history. If Trump wins the election, it will make him the oldest president in US history — Ronald Reagan was just about 70 years old when he was elected to office in 1981. If Clinton wins, it will make her, at 69, the second oldest behind Reagan.
This year, the Republican field began with a long list of 17 candidates, including Indian-origin Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Florida governor Jeb Bush. The Democratic field, on the other hand, was not as crowded, with just Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders in the race.
Leading think-tank the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) explained that at stake in the primary and caucus are a certain number of delegates, or individuals who represent their states at national party conventions. After the primaries and caucuses, most political parties hold national conventions to finalise their choice for their presidential and vice presidential nominees. The candidate who accumulates a majority of his or her party’s delegates during the months-long process wins the nomination. In 2016, the Democratic candidate had to secure at least 2,382 out of 4,763 delegates to become the party’s nominee while the Republican candidate had to secure at least 1,237 out of the 2,472 delegates.
Trump officially accepted the Republican party’s nomination on July 22. Clinton, the former secretary of state, was officially nominated on July 26 at the Democratic Convention.
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