This comprehensive guide is the definitive source for researchers seeking an understanding of those who have occupied the White House and on the institution of the U.S. presidency. Readers turn to Guide to the Presidency for its wealth of facts and analytical chapters that explain the structure, powers, and operations of the office and the president’s relationship with Congress and the Supreme Court. The work is divided into eight distinct subject areas covering every aspect of the U.S. presidency.

Chapter 5 The Electoral Process and Taking Office

Chapter 5 The Electoral Process and Taking Office

Chapter 5 The electoral process and taking office

Against a twenty-first-century backdrop, the early days of presidential politics seem almost quaint. The original system aspired to create a republic, in which sovereign power resided in the people but was exercised by their elected representatives. Democracy, in the sense of direct popular rule, was considered a pejorative term. The Framers premised their insulated system of presidential selection on the ability of an “electoral college” of some of the nation's most virtuous and learned men to rise above petty factions and select leaders with national vision.

Since the election of the first president, George Washington, in 1789, the franchise, or right to vote, in American presidential elections has expanded by class, race, ...

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