Primary vs General Election
We all know what elections mean, as in every country there is a process of electing the representatives of the people to govern the country through a process of adult suffrage. These elections are held at regular intervals, and people express their choice of the candidates who contest elections from their constituencies. However, ask a person differences between primary and general elections and you are likely to draw a blank as most people do not appreciate the real differences between primary and general elections. Let us understand what these two different forms of election mean to us.
Before general elections, a party has to decide on its candidates that will contest the elections from different constituencies. This is a sort of getting an inkling of the kind of support party leaders enjoy from the voters in their constituencies. In every constituency, people are asked to choose between two candidates belonging to the same party and their choice becomes the official candidate of the party in the coming general elections. Primary elections are held basically to narrow down the choices for party candidates for the general elections. All legislators belonging to the Senate and the Congress have to move up through the process of primaries. Even the city councilors and commissioners have to contest primaries to become the preferred choices of the voters.
The important thing to note is that, in primary elections, Republicans fight against fellow Republicans whereas Democrats run against Democrats and the successful ones get a chance to fight the winning candidate from the other party at the ensuing general election. There are both closed primaries as well as open primaries. In closed primaries, only party members express their choice of the person who would be the official party candidate whereas, in open primaries, all voters get a chance to express their choice of the party candidate.
General election is the process to choose the legislator from among different party nominees who have come up through the primaries. This means that there is finally a Republican fighting a Democrat or there might be another candidate without any party affiliations. General elections for the House of Representatives are held every 2 years while elections for the 2 senate representatives in every state are held every 6 years. Presidential elections are held every 4 years. General elections are held at both federal as well as state levels.
What is the difference between Primary and General Election?
• General elections are held on a much larger scale and include publicity campaigns and debates that are telecast on television. On the other hand, primary elections are meant to finalize party candidates for the ensuing general elections.
• General elections decide the candidate who finally wins and occupies the office or the legislative assembly seat. On the other hand, primary elections are held to narrow down the choice of candidates inside a political party.
• Republicans run against fellow republicans in primary elections while the fight is between a Republican and a Democrat in general elections.
• Primary elections may be closed or open whereas general elections are always open.