Mary has a Master's Degree in History with 18 advanced hours in Government. She has taught college History and Government courses.
What is a Political Nomination?
Imagine for a moment that you're thinking about running for political office. What would happen? Whose votes would you need to campaign for? During any election cycle the first step is to gain the approval or nomination of a particular political party. The political nomination, or the announcement of party support for a candidate is the first of several hoops that a successful politician must jump through in order to obtain election or re-election.
How Does It Work?
The first part of the process of gaining the nomination is called the prenomination phase, where many candidates explore the possibility of running for office and try to gauge the likelihood of success. As soon as the last election is ended, many candidates will be thinking about running during the next cycle. So let's imagine the last election is over and you are thinking about running next time. During this part of the process you would talk to friends, family members, coworkers, and anyone you think might support you and ask what they think about you as a political candidate.
If that's successful, you would move on to political party officials for whichever party is most likely to support you. It's important to understand that during this phase, many candidates will determine that a political run is not a good idea. Candidates who lack public or political support, or who've found the campaign process overwhelming will often drop out of the cycle at this point, but let's assume everything goes well for you and several important party members agree that you are an ideal candidate. Political scientists sometimes call this informal process of drumming up support from the party and the public, the invisible primary.
What happens next? Well, you'll officially announce your candidacy! Traditionally candidates have waited until the spring of the election year to officially announce their candidacy but in the last two open election cycles, many candidates have chosen to announce earlier. For example, as of June 2015, fourteen candidates from the major parties have announced their candidacy for the presidential election in 2016.
After you officially announce you're running, several things are going to happen. The media is suddenly going to become deeply interested in what you have to say. For some candidates, like Fred Thompson, one of the 2008 candidates, this can be a little intimidating; however, let's assume you are attractive, well spoken and the media loves you. Remember those important party members from the earlier? You need to get them and as many other party members as possible to support your candidacy. You'll also need to persuade as many of your supporters (hopefully you've attracted some wealthy ones) to make donations to your campaigns. Running a campaign is expensive and you will need all the support you can get in order to win the ultimate test in the nomination part of the process, the party primary or caucus, where the many candidates will be narrowed down to one winner.
A primary election is a statewide election in which all the candidates running for a party are put on a ballot. Party members in the states then vote for the party candidate that they like best.
The states may choose to have an open primary where the voters chose which party primary they want to vote in on primary election day. Many states use this option because it increases voter participation. Other states use a closed primary where voters must register which party they are ahead of time in order to vote in the primary election. In either case, at the end of the primary, one candidate has typically emerged from each party as the front runner.
While most states use the primary method, a few states used the caucus method, where party members are invited to attend party conventions and choose a candidate at the local, regional, and state level. Just as with the primary, by the end of the caucus, each state using this method will have chosen one candidate for each party. Typically states that hold their primaries and caucuses earlier in the year will receive more media attention than later states.
The votes from the primaries and the caucuses are in and you won! So what happens next? Each political party will hold a nomination convention, a special party event where they will announce their candidate and their platform for the coming election. This marks the end of the nomination process and the beginning of the general election campaign, where each party's candidates will face off for the vote of the people. For the modern party candidate like yourself, the nomination convention is an opportunity to celebrate your success and gather interest for the next step in the process, the general election.
The Role of Political Parties
In modern American politics, the two major parties, the Democrats and Republicans, are heavily involved in the campaign process. Candidates typically consider running for office with one of the two major parties in mind and often party leaders are instrumental in advising and recruiting potential candidates. During the nomination phase especially gaining party approval can make or break a campaign. While there are third party candidates in some races, it can be pretty hard for smaller third parties to compete with the resources of the Democratic and Republican parties. So remember, if you're running for office you will definitely need the support of one of the major political parties.
The pre-nomination phase marks the beginning of the election cycle, in which a field of candidates for each party who are considering running for election. Each candidate begins by seeking donor and party support. Those who do not find sufficient support or who have other concerns will often leave the political race. After the successful candidates announce their interest in running formally, the nomination process begins in truth.
Each state will have a primary, which can be open or closed, or a caucus. After the results are in, one candidate from each party will receive the party nomination and be announced as that party's candidate at the nomination convention. Throughout this process, the major parties play a strong role in selecting and supporting the candidates.
To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account
Register to view this lesson
Unlock Your Education
See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com
Become a Study.com member and start learning now.Become a Member
Already a member? Log InBack