The Democratic Party uses full representation (also called "proportional
representation") in its primaries and caucuses to nominate presidential
candidates. Any candidate who wins at least 15% of the vote in a primary or at a caucus is entitled to a fair share of delegates based on their
share of the vote in that state. In a primary, the vote is based on statewide totals. For
caucuses like those in Iowa, the threshold applies in each caucus, and
participants may choose to support a second choice candidate if their first
choice is unlikely to have enough support to elect a delegate.
The Republican Party allocates delegates by full representation in some
states like Iowa and New Hampshire, but in many states uses systems based on
winner-take-all (whichever candidate finishes first taking all delegates) or
winner-take-all by district.
In general elections, all states except Maine and
Nebraska now allocate electors by winner-take-all based on the statewide vote:
Maine and Nebraska allocate two electors to the statewide winner and one elector
to the first-place finisher in each U.S. House district. In the past, some
states allocated electoral votes by full representation.
Below are links with additional information about the presidential candidate
nomination process within the Democratic Party:
DNC Website: View a PDF file of their charter
- Article Two (pgs. 2-3) concerns the National Convention procedures
AllPolitics: A breif review of changes to Democratic rules for convention
delegates prior to 1996
Online NewsHour: An overview of the US primary system
Background on the Iowa Democratic Caucus. See also http://www.drake.edu/journalism/CyberCaucus2000/history.html
New York Times: "Iowa's Dark Art of Caucusing
is Turning a Bit More Public" - gives a description of the workings of
the Iowa Caucus.
Articles concerning the move to full representation in Illinois in 1992: "The
1992 primary: proportional representation for Illinois Democrats" and "A
change for Illinois Democratic delegates"