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US election word of the week: primary

 © PhotoDiscIn this new series we will be looking at some of the language and terminology associated with the US electoral process in the runup to the Presidential election in late 2016. This week’s word is primary.

After the Iowa caucuses kicked off the long-drawn-out process for the election of the next President of the United States, attention shifted to the first of the primaries, held in the tiny northeastern state of New Hampshire (population 1.3 million). Here’s how Macmillan Dictionary describes a primary (or primary election):

an election in which people in a particular state in the US choose their candidate for president

Fans of the TV series The West Wing won’t need reminding that New Hampshire is the home state of fictional Democratic President Josiah (Jed) Bartlet, who not only served two terms as the state’s Governor but was descended from a real-life Josiah Bartlett, one of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence.

As the first state to hold a primary – state law requires that it be held at least one week before any similar event – New Hampshire, like Iowa, punches above its weight politically. The state’s Democrats and Republicans voted overwhelmingly for two mavericks who would normally be seen as rank outsiders in their respective races. It looks like being a fascinating year.

Look out for the next post in this series. In the meantime you can refresh your knowledge of American politics and political language by reading past posts on the subject here and here.

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Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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