Political participation
in US politics today (fourth edition)
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The chapter outlines the different stages involved in the process by which the US elects its presidents. It considers the primaries and caucuses as parties choose their nominees and assesses the claim that party elites have generally played a decisive role in determining the eventual victor. The chapter then surveys the character of the general election campaign that follows and the ways in which it is shaped by the Electoral College and leads to campaigns that focus on particular swing states. Alongside presidential elections, it also outlines Congressional election processes and stresses, in particular, the importance of incumbency in shaping election outcomes. The chapter concludes by assessing the variables shaping voting behaviour.


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