Unpledged elector

In United States presidential elections, an unpledged elector is a person nominated to stand as an elector but who has not pledged to support any particular presidential or vice presidential candidate, and is free to vote for any candidate when elected a member of the Electoral College.[1] Presidential elections are indirect, with voters in each state choosing electors on Election Day in November, and these electors choosing the President of the United States and Vice President of the United States in December. Electors today are elected in every state by popular vote, and in practice have since the 19th century almost always agreed in advance to vote for a particular candidate — that is, they are said to have been pledged to that candidate.[2] In the 20th century, however, several elections were contested by unpledged electors, who made no pledge to any candidate before the election. These anomalies largely arose over fissures within the Democratic Party over the issues of civil rights and segregation. No serious general election campaign has been mounted to elect unpledged electors in any state since 1964.

An unpledged elector is distinct from a faithless elector who pledges his or her vote for a particular candidate before the election but ultimately votes for someone else or fails to vote at all.[1]

Constitutional background

When the United States Constitution was written, the Founding Fathers intended the Electoral College to be a truly deliberative body whose members would choose a President (and Vice President, after 1800) based on their own preferences.[3] They also left the method for selecting the electors for each state to the discretion of that state's legislature. Other than the implied expectation that the electors vote for candidates who are constitutionally qualified to serve as President and Vice President, the Constitution otherwise places no restriction on the behavior of the electors, and assumes that each is an independent agent.

The system worked without much controversy for the first two presidential elections in which George Washington was the unanimous choice for President and electors' opinions diverged only on the choice for Vice President, which was widely seen to be an unimportant post.[4] Washington was not a member of any political party, and had hoped they would not be formed. Nevertheless, "Federalist" and "Anti-Federalist" factions quickly coalesced in the United States Congress.

Once Washington announced his intention to retire after his second presidential term, U.S. politics very quickly became dominated by strong political party organizations. Even without this particular development, the reality was that electors had only one constitutional duty - electing the President and Vice President, while at the same time seeking no other federal office since federal officials are constitutionally barred from serving as electors. In several states, legislatures chose electors. Among the states that selected electors by popular vote, different electoral systems were in place. Some effectively held a statewide vote for all electors - essentially the system most similar to that used in 48 of 50 states today although at this time an electoral mechanism that could effectively compel voters to vote for any particular "slate" of presidential electors had not yet been contemplated. Some states elected two electors in a statewide vote and one in each congressional district (essentially, the system used today in Maine and Nebraska) and a few states experimented with selecting presidential electors in special districts distinct from its congressional districts. More broadly, the franchise (that is, the qualifications that determined who among the adult male population was allowed to vote for state and federal legislators and, where applicable, for presidential electors) varied widely from state to state. However, no matter who was allowed to vote for electors and no matter how they were selected, the only meaningful question any prospective elector had to answer was for whom they would vote for President (and, from 1804 onward, for Vice President) and the only real issues of importance to those selecting electors, beyond deciding who they wanted to become President and Vice President, was perhaps whether the person or people they selected to represent them in the Electoral College could be trusted to keep their word. Thus, it rapidly became increasingly unrealistic for anyone to be elected to the Electoral College without making a trustworthy "pledge" to vote for particular candidates on behalf of those electing them.

By the 1830s, most states chose their electors by popular vote. While voting for individual electors was still the norm at this point, by this time the electors who appeared on ballots were nominated by the state chapters of national parties with the understanding that they would cast their votes for their party's candidate if elected. Also by this time, political parties had successfully lobbied most states to allow voters to cast one vote for every elector that state had apportioned to it. The main rationale of this system was to greatly simplify the distribution of presidential ballots. Prior to the introduction of the secret ballot, political parties were responsible for printing and distributing their own ballots, thus, allowing voters to cast as many votes as the state had electors meant a party could print a standardized ballot containing the same slate of the party's presidential electors for each state. Also, whether an intended consequence or not, this system resulted in most states having a de facto (but not de jure) winner-take-all method of allocating presidential electors.

Eventually, this arrangement became such a given in Presidential elections that when the time came for the states to take over the printing and distribution of ballots (a development necessitated by the introduction of the secret ballot in the 1880's) most states did not bother to list the names of the electors on ballots, instead listing the candidates to whom those electors were pledged. In doing so, they also ensured that the winner-take-all method of selecting presidential electors that had become so firmly entrenched in the U.S. presidential electoral system by that point would become established by law in most states. There were some exceptions however including, as described below, in Alabama.

Unpledged electors in the 20th century


After the American Civil War and Reconstruction, the Democratic Party gained an almost unbreakable dominance in the Southern United States, and the Republicans, associated with Abraham Lincoln and the Union cause, were correspondingly unelectable there. The nationwide Democratic party became increasingly liberal in the early 20th century, a shift that accelerated with the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt. By contrast, the leaders of the Democratic Party in the South, although somewhat supportive of certain parts of the New Deal and other liberal Democratic economic policies, were in many other aspects conservative - in particular, they were vehemently protective of segregation and strongly opposed to civil rights for African Americans.

In several mid-20th century elections, Democrats put slates of unpledged electors on the ballots in several Southern states; in some cases they ran in opposition to electors pledged to the nationwide Democratic candidate, and in others they were the only Democratic electors that appeared on the ballot. The goal was to have electors who could act as kingmakers in a close election, extracting concessions that would favor conservative Southern Democrats in exchange for their votes.



The first modern slates of unpledged electors were fielded in the 1944 election as a protest against certain aspects of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and support for desegregation.

In Texas, a splinter group of Democrats known as the Texas Regulars fielded a slate of electors not pledged to any candidate; similar slates were on the ballot in South Carolina and Mississippi.[5] While they won or placed second in several counties, none of the groups met much success.


In 1956, unpledged slates were on the ballot in Alabama (20,150 votes, 4.1% of the vote), Louisiana (44,520 votes, 7.2% of the vote and they won four parishes), Mississippi (42,266 votes, 17.3% of the vote and they won seven counties) and South Carolina (88,509 votes, 29.5% of the vote and 21 counties).[6]


The 1960 election was the only election that saw unpledged electors actually elected to the electoral college. In that year, a slate of eight unpledged electors in Mississippi won a plurality of the vote there (116,248 votes, or 39% of the total). In Alabama, where the vote was not for the presidential candidates but for individual electors, five of the eleven elected Democratic electors were pledged to Democratic nominees John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson and six were unpledged.[7] Louisiana's popular vote went to a slate of electors pledged to Kennedy and Johnson, but a slate of unpledged electors on the ballot there won 169,572 votes (21% of the vote). Georgia freed its Democratic electors from pledges to vote for Kennedy. [8]

When the electoral college cast its vote, all fourteen unpledged electors cast their votes for conservative Democrat Harry F. Byrd for President and Strom Thurmond for Vice President after trying to influence other Southern states into unpledging their electors to join them.[9] They were joined by Henry D. Irwin from Oklahoma, a faithless Republican elector who objected to Republican nominee Richard M. Nixon. Irwin cast his Vice Presidential vote for Barry Goldwater. Georgia's electors, although released of their pledges to vote for Kennedy by the state legislature, voted for him anyway.

Irwin had attempted to broker a coalition between the unpledged electors and other Republican electors, but to no avail: Kennedy and Johnson won a clear majority of the electoral vote. Even if Georgia's electors had declined to vote for Kennedy in accordance with their legislature's implied wishes, Kennedy would have still won the election. However, the unusual situation with the mixed elector slate in Alabama makes it difficult to say whether the popular vote was won by Kennedy or Nixon.[10]


The last slate of unpledged electors to date was filed in Alabama in the 1964 election. The slate was supported by Democratic Alabama Governor George C. Wallace whilst the national Democratic nominees, Lyndon B. Johnson and Hubert H. Humphrey, did not appear on Alabama ballots.[11] The electors won 30.6 percent of the vote, but the state was ultimately won by Republican nominees Barry Goldwater and William E. Miller.


The Republican ticket’s victory in Alabama and four other Southern states (the only states Goldwater carried besides his home state of Arizona) heralded a trend that would put an end to the practice of nominating unpledged electors.

As a strategy, it had been largely ineffective, and southern conservatives, many of whom were still reluctant to vote Republican, began urging Governor Wallace to run for the White House in 1968 under the auspices of a traditional third party presidential campaign. Once Wallace announced his intention to run for President, the rationale for running slates of formally unpledged electors disappeared. Nevertheless, Wallace sought commitments from his "pledged" electors in the states he was most likely to win that they would not necessarily vote for him but rather as he directed, thus allowing the Alabama Governor to act as a power broker in case of an election with no clear winner in the weeks between the general election and the Electoral College vote. Wallace ultimately carried four Southern states under the American Independent Party banner, in addition to his home state of Alabama in which he ran as the official nominee of the state’s Democratic Party. While a shift of a few thousand votes in a handful of key states would have resulted in no candidate winning a clear majority of the electoral vote, Republican Richard Nixon ultimately won a clear majority of the electoral vote. Unable to influence the result, Wallace's 45 electors voted as pledged - he ultimately finished with 46 electoral votes due to the support of a North Carolinian faithless elector.

Following Nixon's triumph in 1968, former Southern Democratic supporters began voting Republican in large numbers. By 1972, Wallace was seeking the national Democratic nomination on a more moderate platform in a presidential campaign that was ultimately cut short after he was seriously wounded by a would-be assassin. Nixon would sweep the South in his landslide victory that year. By the time the Democrats regained the White House following the 1976 election, it was under the candidacy of Jimmy Carter, a Southerner who in contrast to most of his predecessors was firmly opposed to segregation. Carter nevertheless managed to almost sweep the South, with Virginia being the only former Confederate state to not vote for him. Many other Southern Democrats, including Wallace himself, would soon follow Carter's lead.

The 1976 presidential was the last such contest in which the Democratic nominee carried a majority of Southern states. Today, the practice of nominating unpledged electors combined with Wallace's third party presidential campaign can be seen as a transitional phase between the Democrats' traditional hold on the South and the modern political environment where the region is a Republican stronghold and where state Democratic parties, while still more conservative in some respects compared to other regions, tend to be to the left of the Republicans as in the rest of the country and tend to be more supported in predominantly African-American locales.


  1. ^ a b Fortier, John C.; Walter Berns (2004). After the People Vote: a guide to the Electoral College. American Enterprise Institute. p. 7. ISBN 0-8447-4202-3.
  2. ^ McLean, Iain; Arnold B. Urken; Fiona Hewitt (1995). "Introduction: what is social choice?". Classics of social choice. University of Michigan Press. p. 35. ISBN 0-472-10450-0.
  3. ^ Kimberling, William C. "The Electoral College". Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  4. ^ The precedent that a Vice President would be permitted to complete the term of a deceased President would not be established until after a President had died in office, which did not occur until 1841.
  5. ^ Bloom, Jack M. (1987). Class, Race, and the Civil Rights Movement. Indiana University Press. p. 72. ISBN 0253204070.
  6. ^ Stone, Roger (2014-08-11). Nixon's Secrets: The Rise, Fall, and Untold Truth about the President, Watergate, and the Pardon. Skyhorse. ISBN 9781632200600.
  7. ^ 1960 Presidential General Election Results – Alabama Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections
  8. ^ Novotny, Patrick (2004). "John F. Kennedy, the 1960 Election, and Georgia's Unpledged Electors in the Electoral College". Georgia Historical Quarterly. 88 (3): 375–397. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  9. ^ "Statement of Unpledged Electors from Mississippi and Alabama". Citizens' Council. December 12, 1960. Retrieved February 9, 2018.
  10. ^ Fund, John (November 20, 2003). "A Minority President". Opinion Journal. Archived from the original on November 23, 2003. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  11. ^ "Alabama Expected To Choose Electors Backed by Wallace". The New York Times. 1964-05-03. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-02-09.
1808 United States presidential election

The United States presidential election of 1808 was the sixth quadrennial presidential election, held from Friday, November 4, to Wednesday, December 7, 1808. The Democratic-Republican candidate James Madison defeated Federalist candidate Charles Cotesworth Pinckney decisively. Madison's victory made him the first individual to succeed a president of the same party.

Madison had served as Secretary of State since President Thomas Jefferson took office in 1801. Jefferson, who had declined to run for a third term, threw his strong support behind Madison, a fellow Virginian. Sitting Vice President George Clinton and former Ambassador James Monroe both challenged Madison for leadership of the party, but Madison won his party's nomination and Clinton was re-nominated as vice president. The Federalists chose to re-nominate Pinckney, a former ambassador who had served as the party's 1804 nominee.

Despite the unpopularity of the Embargo Act of 1807, Madison won the vast majority of electoral votes outside of the Federalist stronghold of New England. Clinton received six electoral votes for president from his home state of New York. This election was the first of two instances in American history in which a new president was selected but the incumbent vice president won re-election, the other being in 1828.

1812 United States presidential election

The United States presidential election of 1812, the seventh quadrennial American presidential election, was held from Friday, October 30, 1812 to Wednesday, December 2, 1812. Taking place in the shadow of the War of 1812, incumbent Democratic-Republican President James Madison defeated DeWitt Clinton, who drew support from dissident Democratic-Republicans in the North as well as Federalists. It was the first presidential election to be held during a major war involving the United States.Northern Democratic-Republicans had long been dissatisfied by the Southern dominance of their party, and DeWitt Clinton's uncle, Vice President George Clinton, had unsuccessfully challenged Madison for the party's 1808 presidential nomination. While the May 1812 Democratic-Republican congressional nominating caucus re-nominated Madison, the party's New York caucus, also held in May, nominated Clinton for president. After the United States declared war on the United Kingdom in June 1812, Clinton sought to create a coalition of anti-war Democratic-Republicans and Federalists. With Clinton in the race, the Federalist Party declined to formally put forth a nominee, hoping its members would vote for Clinton, but they did not formally endorse him, fearing that an explicit endorsement of Clinton would hurt the party's fortunes in other races. Federalist Jared Ingersoll of Pennsylvania became Clinton's de facto running mate.

Despite Clinton's success at attracting Federalist support, Madison was re-elected with 50.4 percent of the popular vote to his opponent's 47.6%, making the 1812 election the closest election up to that point in the popular vote. Clinton won the Federalist bastion of New England as well as three Mid-Atlantic states, but Madison dominated the South and took Pennsylvania. Though Madison won a relatively comfortable victory in the electoral vote, this was the most closely contested election held between 1800 and 1824.

1956 United States presidential election in South Carolina

The 1956 United States presidential election in South Carolina took place on November 6, 1956, as part of the 1956 United States presidential election. South Carolina voters chose eight representatives, or electors, to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.

South Carolina was won by Adlai Stevenson (D–Illinois), running with Senator Estes Kefauver, with 45.37 percent of the popular vote against incumbent President Dwight D. Eisenhower (R–Pennsylvania), running with Vice President Richard Nixon, with 25.18 percent of the popular vote. T. Coleman Andrews, the Dixiecrat candidate, finished second via unpledged electors.The 1956 election in South Carolina marks the only occasion Eisenhower placed third in a state in either of his presidential campaigns, and the second of only three times in the 20th century that an incumbent president had done this badly in any state. As of the 2016 presidential election, this is the last election in which Greenville County voted for a Democratic presidential candidate. It is also the last time that Lexington County was not carried by the Republican candidate.

1960 United States presidential election in Alabama

The United States presidential election in Alabama, 1960 was held on November 8, 1960, as part of that year's national presidential election. Eleven Democratic electors were elected, of whom six voted for Harry F. Byrd and five for John F. Kennedy.In Alabama, voters voted for electors individually instead of as a slate, as in the other 49 states. There were 22 electors on the ballot, 11 Republicans and 11 Democrats. Voters could vote for up to eleven candidates. As a result of a state primary, the Democratic Party had a mixed slate of electors, five being pledged to Kennedy and the remaining six being unpledged. The highest vote for a presidential elector was 324,050 votes for Frank M. Dixon, who was unpledged; the highest vote for an elector pledged to Kennedy was 318,303 for C. G. Allen, and the highest vote for a Republican elector was 237,981 for Cecil Durham, which was lower than the vote for any Democratic elector. As a result, six unpledged electors and five electors pledged to Kennedy were elected. All six elected unpledged electors cast their vote for Byrd.Varying methods have been used to break down the vote into Kennedy and unpledged votes. One method is to take the 318,303 votes as Kennedy votes and the 324,050 votes as unpledged votes, giving a total much higher than the actual votes cast. Another is to take the 318,303 votes as Kennedy votes and the remainder (5,747 votes) as unpledged votes. A third is to split the 324,050 in the proportion of ​5⁄11 to ​6⁄11, giving 147,295 votes for Kennedy and 176,755 for unpledged electors. In all cases Richard Nixon has 237,981 votes. If the last method were used, it would mean that Nixon not only won the popular vote in Alabama, but won it nationally.

Bidwell Adam

Cayton Bidwell Adam Sr., known as Bidwell Adam (January 12, 1894 – December 20, 1982) was an attorney from Gulfport, Mississippi, who served as his state's 21st lieutenant governor from 1928 to 1932 during the last administration of Governor Theodore Bilbo. Adam was a fiery old-school political orator who could stir up the Democratic party faithful though on at least two occasions, he endorsed Republican candidates for U.S. President.

Faithless elector

In United States presidential elections, a faithless elector is a member of the United States Electoral College who does not vote for the presidential or vice presidential candidate for whom they had pledged to vote. That is, they break faith with the candidate they were pledged to and vote for another candidate, or fail to vote. A pledged elector is only considered a faithless elector by breaking their pledge; unpledged electors have no pledge to break.

Electors are typically chosen and nominated by a political party or the party's presidential nominee: they are usually party members with a reputation for high loyalty to the party and its chosen candidate. Thus, a faithless elector runs the risk of party censure and political retaliation from their party, as well as potential legal penalties in some states. Candidates for elector are nominated by state political parties in the months prior to Election Day.

In some states, such as Indiana, the electors are nominated in primaries, the same way other candidates are nominated. In other states, such as Oklahoma, Virginia, and North Carolina, electors are nominated in party conventions. In Pennsylvania, the campaign committee of each candidate names their candidates for elector (an attempt to discourage faithless electors). The parties have generally been successful in keeping their electors faithful, leaving out the cases in which a candidate died before the elector was able to cast a vote.

During the 1836 election, Virginia's entire 23-man electoral delegation faithlessly abstained from voting for victorious Democratic vice presidential nominee Richard M. Johnson. The loss of Virginia's support caused Johnson to fall one electoral vote short of a majority, causing the vice presidential election to be thrown into the U.S. Senate for the only time in American history. The presidential election itself was not in dispute because Virginia's electors voted for Democratic presidential nominee Martin Van Buren as pledged. The U.S. Senate ultimately elected Johnson as vice president after a party-line vote.

There have been a total of 167 instances of faithlessness as of 2016. Nearly all have voted for third party candidates or non-candidates, as opposed to switching their support to a major opposing candidate. Ultimately, faithless electors have only impacted the outcome of an election once, during the 1796 election where Thomas Pinckney would have become the President and John Adams the Vice President.The United States Constitution does not specify a notion of pledging; no federal law or constitutional statute binds an elector's vote to anything. All pledging laws originate at the state level.

Faithless electors in the 2016 United States presidential election

In the 2016 United States presidential election, ten members of the U.S. Electoral College voted for a candidate different from whom they were pledged to vote.

This movement, dubbed the "Hamilton Electors", was co-founded by Micheal Baca and Bret Chiafalo. The movement attempted to find 37 Republican electors willing to vote for a more moderate Republican in an effort to put country above party.

Three of these votes were invalidated by their respective states, reverting to the pledged candidate. As a result, the Democratic Party nominee, Hillary Clinton, lost five of her pledged electors while the Republican Party nominee and then president-elect, Donald Trump, lost two. Three of the faithless electors voted for Colin Powell while John Kasich, Ron Paul, Bernie Sanders, and Faith Spotted Eagle each received one vote.The three additional electors who initially voted against their Clinton pledge had their votes invalidated according to local statutes and were replaced or forced to vote again. The defections fell well short of the number needed to change the result of the election; only two of the seven defected from the presumptive winner, when 35 were needed to defect in order to force a run-off vote by congress (a tally of less than 270).

Although there had been a combined total of 167 instances of individual electors voting faithlessly in over two centuries of previous US presidential elections, 2016 was the first election in over a hundred years in which multiple electors worked to alter the result of the election in order to "vote their conscience for the good of America" in accordance with Alexander Hamilton's Federalist Paper No. 68. Electors were subjected to public pressure, including death threats.Seven electors successfully cast faithless ballots for president, the most to defect from presidential candidates who were still alive in Electoral College history, surpassing the six electors who defected from James Madison in the 1808 election.Historically, this number of defections has been exceeded only once. In 1872, a record 63 of 66 electors originally pledged to losing candidate Horace Greeley cast their votes for someone else (Greeley had died between election day and the meeting of the Electoral College). The six faithless vice-presidential votes in 2016 is short of the record for that office, without considering whether the vice-presidential candidates were still living, as multiple previous elections have had more than six faithless vice-presidential votes; in 1836, faithless electors moved the vice-presidential decision to the U.S. Senate, though this did not affect the outcome.

George Shannon (journalist)

George Washington Shannon (February 20, 1914 – April 25, 1998) was a conservative journalist from, principally, Shreveport, Louisiana.

George Wallace

George Corley Wallace Jr. (August 25, 1919 – September 13, 1998) was the 45th Governor of Alabama, a position he occupied for four terms, during which he promoted "low-grade industrial development, low taxes, and trade schools". He sought the United States presidency as a Democrat three times, and once as an American Independent Party candidate, unsuccessfully each time. He is best remembered for his staunch segregationist and populist views. Wallace was known as "the most dangerous racist in America" and notoriously opposed desegregation and supported the policies of "Jim Crow" during the Civil Rights Movement, declaring in his 1963 inaugural address that he stood for "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever".Born in Clio, Alabama, Wallace attended the University of Alabama School of Law and served in United States Army Air Corps during World War II. After the war, he won election to the Alabama House of Representatives and served as a state judge. Wallace first sought the Democratic nomination in the 1958 Alabama gubernatorial election. Initially a moderate on racial issues, Wallace adopted a hard-line segregationist stance after losing the 1958 nomination. Wallace ran for governor again in 1962, and won the race. Seeking to stop the racial integration of the University of Alabama, Wallace earned national notoriety by standing in front of the entrance of the University of Alabama, blocking the path of black students. Wallace left office after one term due to term limits, but his wife, Lurleen Wallace, won the next election and succeeded him, though he was the de facto governor.Wallace challenged sitting President Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1964 Democratic presidential primaries, but Johnson prevailed in the race. In the 1968 presidential election, Wallace ran a third party campaign in an attempt to force a contingent election in the United States House of Representatives, thereby enhancing the political clout of segregationist Southern leaders. Wallace won five Southern states but failed to force a contingent election; As of 2019 he remains the most recent third-party candidate to receive pledged electoral college votes from any state. Wallace won election to another term as Governor of Alabama in 1970 and ran in the 1972 Democratic presidential primaries, once again campaigning for segregation. His campaign effectively ended when he was shot in Maryland by Arthur Bremer, and Wallace remained paralyzed below the waist for the rest of his life. Bremer was sentenced to 63 years in prison for the shooting, which was later reduced to 53 years following an appeal; he served 35 years of the reduced sentence and was paroled in 2007.

Wallace won re-election as governor in 1974, and he once again unsuccessfully sought the Democratic presidential nomination in the 1976 Democratic presidential primaries. In the late 1970s, Wallace announced that he became a born-again Christian and moderated his views on race, renouncing his past support for segregation. Wallace left office in 1979 but won election to a fourth and final term as governor in 1982. Wallace served 16 years and one day as Governor of Alabama, the third longest gubernatorial tenure in post-Constitutional U.S. history. Describing his impact on national politics despite his lack of success in presidential races, two biographers termed Wallace "the most influential loser" of 20th-century American politics.

Glenn Andrews

Arthur Glenn Andrews (January 15, 1909 – September 25, 2008), usually known as Glenn Andrews, was an American politician and a United States Representative from Alabama.

Harold Montgomery

A. Harold Montgomery Sr. (April 19, 1911 – December 17, 1995) was an agricultural businessman and a Louisiana state senator, who was an outspoken conservative within his state's dominant Democratic Party. He represented District 36 of Bossier and Webster Parishes in his first two terms (1960-1968) and later Bienville and Claiborne Parishes as well in his third nonconsecutive term (1972-1976).

Iowa caucuses

The Iowa caucuses are biennial electoral events for members of the Democratic and Republican parties in the U.S. state of Iowa. Unlike primary elections in most other U.S. states where registered voters go to polling places to cast ballots, Iowans instead gather at local caucus meetings to discuss and vote on the candidates. During both the presidential and midterm election seasons, registered Iowan voters vote in a per-precinct caucus for the party they are registered as a member. The caucuses are also held to select delegates to county conventions and party committees, among other party activities.The Iowa caucuses are noteworthy as the first major contest of the United States presidential primary season. Though the demographics of Iowa are not representative of the rest of the country, the caucuses are still seen as a strong indicator for how a presidential candidate will do in later contests. It can provide candidates with momentum going into the following contests. Candidates who do poorly in their caucus are likely to drop out in the following days.

New Hampshire primary

The New Hampshire primary is the first in a series of nationwide party primary elections and the second party contest (the first being the Iowa Caucuses) held in the United States every four years as part of the process of choosing the delegates to the Democratic and Republican national conventions which choose the party nominees for the presidential elections to be held the subsequent November. Although only a few delegates are chosen in the New Hampshire primary, its real importance comes from the massive media coverage it receives (along with the first caucus in Iowa). Spurred by the events of the 1968 election, reforms that began with the 1972 election elevated the two states' importance to the overall election, and began to receive as much media attention as all other state contests combined. Examples of this extraordinary coverage have been seen on the campuses of Dartmouth College and Saint Anselm College, as the colleges have held multiple national debates and have attracted media outlets like NPR, Fox News, CNN, NBC, and ABC. The publicity and momentum can be enormous from a decisive win by a frontrunner, or better-than-expected result in the New Hampshire primary. The upset or weak showing by a front-runner changes the calculus of national politics in a matter of hours, as happened in 1952 (D), 1968 (D), 1980 (R), and 2008 (D).

Since 1952, the primary has been a major testing ground for candidates for both the Republican and Democratic nominations. Candidates who do poorly frequently drop out, while lesser-known, underfunded candidates who excel in New Hampshire can become serious contenders, garnering large amounts of media attention and campaign funding.

Crucially, the New Hampshire primary is not a "closed primary," where voter participation is limited by voters' past or recent party registration. Instead, New Hampshire enables any voter who has been undeclared, or re-registers as undeclared (not registered with any party) to vote in either party's primary. This seemingly technical distinction can have big impacts on the primary, and how fluidly candidates do in the state (especially if only one party has a competitive primary in a given year, eliciting a greater likelihood that undeclared or less partisan voters will flood that party's primary, if they want to participate at all.) This system is not a fully open primary, because people who are registered with a party (Republican or Democratic) on voting day cannot vote in the other party's primary.

President of the United States

The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.

In contemporary times, the president is looked upon as one of the world's most powerful political figures as the leader of the only remaining global superpower. The role includes responsibility for the world's most expensive military, which has the second largest nuclear arsenal. The president also leads the nation with the largest economy by nominal GDP. The president possesses significant domestic and international hard and soft power.

Article II of the Constitution establishes the executive branch of the federal government. It vests the executive power of the United States in the president. The power includes the execution and enforcement of federal law, alongside the responsibility of appointing federal executive, diplomatic, regulatory and judicial officers, and concluding treaties with foreign powers with the advice and consent of the Senate. The president is further empowered to grant federal pardons and reprieves, and to convene and adjourn either or both houses of Congress under extraordinary circumstances. The president directs the foreign and domestic policies of the United States, and takes an active role in promoting his policy priorities to members of Congress. In addition, as part of the system of checks and balances, Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution gives the president the power to sign or veto federal legislation. The power of the presidency has grown substantially since its formation, as has the power of the federal government as a whole.Through the Electoral College, registered voters indirectly elect the president and vice president to a four-year term. This is the only federal election in the United States which is not decided by popular vote. Nine vice presidents became president by virtue of a president's intra-term death or resignation.Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 sets three qualifications for holding the presidency: natural-born U.S. citizenship; at least thirty-five years of age; and residency in the United States for at least fourteen years. The Twenty-second Amendment states that no person who has been elected to two presidential terms may be elected to a third. In all, 44 individuals have served 45 presidencies spanning 57 full four-year terms. Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms, so he is counted twice, as both the 22nd and 24th president.Donald Trump of New York is the 45th and current president of the United States. He assumed office on January 20, 2017.

South Carolina primary

The South Carolina primary has become one of several key early-state presidential primaries in the process of the Democratic and Republican Parties choosing their respective general election nominees for President of the United States.

Historically, this primary election has been much more important in the Republican Party's nomination process, considered a firewall that could permanently eliminate any/all serious rivals to the winner. It is meant to force the various factions of the party to decide quickly on and unite behind a single candidate and avoid wasting precious time and resources on a drawn-out battle between their own candidates, that would divert the party's focus from working to defeat the Democrats' likely nominee.

Since its 1980 inception, the winner of the Republican South Carolina primary has always become the eventual Republican National Convention nominee for that fall's general election, with one exception, the 2012 primary, in which eventual Republican nominee Mitt Romney finished second, behind winner Newt Gingrich (who would go on to suspend his campaign before that summer's convention began).

South Carolina has cemented its place as the "First in the South" primary for both parties. For the Democrats, the 2008 primary took on added significance because it was the first nominating contest in that cycle in which a large percentage (55 percent, according to an exit poll) of primary voters were African Americans.The 2012 South Carolina primary was held on January 21 for Republicans, and on January 28 for Democrats. The 2016 primary was held on February 20 for Republicans, and on February 27 for Democrats.

Stanford Morse

Stanford Everett Morse, Jr. (May 31, 1926 – February 28, 2002), was a lawyer from Gulfport, Mississippi, and a two-term Democratic member of the Mississippi State Senate. In April 1963, he switched to Republican affiliation to run unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor on the ticket headed by Rubel Phillips. A former Democratic member of the Mississippi Public Service Commission from Corinth, Phillips also changed parties in 1963 in a bid to become his state's first GOP governor since Reconstruction.

Texas Regulars

The Texas Regulars was a group based in Texas which was formed in 1944 to deny Franklin D. Roosevelt a majority of the Electoral College in the 1944 presidential election.

William Kunstler

William Moses Kunstler (July 7, 1919 – September 4, 1995) was an American radical lawyer and civil rights activist, known for his politically unpopular clients. Kunstler was an active member of the National Lawyers Guild, a board member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the co-founder of the Law Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the "leading gathering place for radical lawyers in the country".Kunstler's defense of the Chicago Seven from 1969–1970 led The New York Times to label him "the country's most controversial and, perhaps, its best-known lawyer". Kunstler is also well known for defending members of the Catonsville Nine, Black Panther Party, Weather Underground Organization, the Attica Prison rioters, and the American Indian Movement. He also won a de facto segregation case regarding the District of Columbia's public schools and "disinterred, singlehandedly" the concept of federal criminal removal jurisdiction in the 1960s. Kunstler refused to defend right-wing groups such as the Minutemen, on the grounds that: "I only defend those whose goals I share. I'm not a lawyer for hire. I only defend those I love."He was a polarizing figure; many on the right wished to see him disbarred, while many on the left admired him as a "symbol of a certain kind of radical lawyer." Even some other civil rights lawyers regarded Kunstler as a "publicity hound and a hit-and-run lawyer" who "brings cases on Page 1 and wins them on Page 68." Legal writer Sidney Zion quipped that Kunstler was "one of the few lawyers in town who knows how to talk to the press. His stories always check out and he's not afraid to talk to you, and he's got credibility—although you've got to ask sometimes, 'Bill, is it really true?'"

William M. Rainach

William Monroe Rainach Sr., known as Willie Rainach (July 13, 1913 – January 26, 1978), was a state legislator from rural Summerfield in Claiborne Parish who led Louisiana's "Massive Resistance" to desegregation during the last half of the 1950s. He served Claiborne and neighboring Bienville Parish in north Louisiana for three terms in the Louisiana State Senate from 1948 to 1960.

Earlier, he represented Claiborne Parish in the state Louisiana House of Representatives from 1940 to 1948. When he left the House, the seat was taken by John Sidney Garrett of Haynesville, in northern Claiborne Parish, who twenty years later would serve a term as Speaker. In 1959, Rainach unsuccessfully sought the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, then equivalent to election in Louisiana at a time when few Republicans bothered to contest elections.

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