Difference between presidential primary and caucus nominating systems

New Hampshire Primary

CONCORD, NH (WWLP) – To become a presidential nominee, a candidate needs to secure their party’s nomination for the general election. There are two ways that states do this – a primary or a caucus.

A few states still participate in a caucus. Iowa is traditionally the first one held.

“A caucus is a meeting of voters. It’s a meeting and those voters express their preference.”

Bill Gardner, Secretary of State

Voters there gather in groups at a certain time and date and make public statements in support of whatever candidate they prefer. After, everyone casts a vote. These votes are used to designate Iowa’s national convention delegates.

The rest of the states have primary elections. It’s a state law that the primary in New Hampshire, has to be the first one to happen in the entire country.

“It’s 100 years old.”


“I think a lot of people in New Hampshire take advantage of that, and we really care about it.” Dennis Jakubowski, Loudon, NH

A primary is similar to a general election. Voters cast their ballots in secret at a polling place. But different from a caucus, voters don’t all have to meet together at one place at one time.

“There’s absentee voting for people who physically can’t make it or are away.”

Bill Gardner, Secretary of State

The votes are then used by the parties to determine a candidate. Both parties will select their presidential and vice-presidential candidates at their respective conventions that will be held this summer, just a few months before the November general election.

New Hampshire Primary February 11, 2020

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