The US Presidential election battle begins.

Image: Gage Skidmore

Image: Gage Skidmore

The 2016 US presidential election is looming. It seems like no time since Obama was elected to serve a second term in office. Despite the election not taking place until November of next year, electioneering is already well underway over a year in advance of this.

The first candidate to announce their nomination was Mark Everson in March of this year to run as a Republican candidate, with many other candidates following suit. 21 people; 6 Democrat candidates and 15 Republican candidates have filed their declaration thus far with only two having dropped out of the Republican race. The deadline for candidates to file their declaration is the 15th October and after that it all becomes rather exciting.

American presidential and mid-term elections are very different from UK general elections, one of the key reasons being the required fundraising. This is where it gets interesting; candidates raise a phenomenal amount of money through grass roots campaigns and individual donations, all the way up to donations from PACs (Political Action Committees) and Super PACs.

Whilst PACs can only donate $5,000 to candidate committees per election and $15,000 to any national party committee annually, Super PACs can receive and spend an unlimited amount of money providing they do not directly donate to the candidate’s campaign itself. This money is often spent on advertising that is detrimental or extremely favourable to a candidate’s campaign.

So far in 2015, the use of digital political advertisements via social media seems to be the predominant mode of advertisement and will no doubt be as effective in the coming months, especially leading up to the election in November 2016, as they have been in previous elections.

Finance can make or break a candidates’ campaign and the period from now until the beginning of the primaries in February will be vital in establishing a stronghold in the forthcoming polls, dictating the opinions of the American people. Republican candidate Jeb Bush is coming out on top so far, his campaign having raised $120 million so far with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton achieving second place behind him, her campaign raising $67.8 million, only half of what her Republican rival has raised.

Amidst this fundraising, there are many other things going on that the candidates’ will have to dedicate time to. Firstly, the candidates must prepare for a series of debates in which they are questioned alongside their fellow party candidates about their ideas for the future. These debates will lead up to the primaries and caucuses, held between February and March 2016 depending on when each state decides to hold them. Primaries take the form of a secret ballot for the public, like UK elections, whereas caucuses take the form of a meeting where members of the party and activists discuss the candidates and reach a decision.

These votes decide the final candidate who will be nominated to run at the National Party Conventions held at the end of July 2016 where each state sends a delegate to represent the voters of that state.

From here on in the candidates and their running mates will endure a gruelling process of debates and fundraising, visiting voters of their party from all over the country to try and get ahead in opinion polls and most importantly, win the race to the White House.

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