What does the winner get?
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What does the winner get?
Based on how many votes they get in these state elections, the candidates are awarded delegates, people who represent groups of voters. When a candidate has won 1,144 delegates, he will be named the Republican Party’s candidate, or nominee, for president.
The Republican and Democratic delegates make their choices official at huge gatherings in late summer called conventions, which are like big parties.
What are the issues?
A major issue is the weak economy, which is making it difficult for people to find jobs; voters want to know what the politicians are going to do about that. People also are concerned that the government needs to borrow money because it spends more than it takes in. (This is called the deficit.) And many voters have strong feelings about whether the United States should get involved in conflicts in foreign countries.
How do the parties differ?
A 2010 poll of voters found that 31 percent of Americans call themselves Democrats; 29 percent call themselves Republicans and 38 percent call themselves independents. While many states do not allow independents to vote in party primaries, they are free to vote for candidates from either party in the November elections. And there’s no rule against a member of the Democratic Party voting for a Republican candidate or the other way around.
Even people who say they belong to a party may not agree with everything that party stands for. Think of it this way: If you were to divide the kids in your school into two groups, those who like Mexican food and those who don’t, where would you put the kids who love nachos but hate all other Mexican food?
Generally speaking, though, Republicans believe that the federal government should be smaller and less active than Democrats think it should be. A lot of other issues flow from that. A smaller government, for example, would need to raise less money, so people would not have to pay as much of their money to the government in taxes. That should mean that people would have more money to take care of themselves. Republicans often say that the government doesn’t spend tax money wisely. Democrats often argue that it’s the job of the government to spend money to take care of the people who are too old, too poor or too disabled to take care of themselves. Republicans also tend to believe that more laws, such as those protecting the environment, should be decided by individual state governments, while Democrats tend to favor a more national approach to such issues.
— Margaret Webb Pressler
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