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For other uses, see Candidate (disambiguation).
For Nominee redirects here. For the financial term, see Nominee account, see Candidate (disambiguation).

A candidate, or nominee, is the prospective recipient of an award or honor, or a person seeking or being considered for some kind of position; for example:

"Nomination" is part of the process of selecting a candidate for either election to an office by a political party,[1] or the bestowing of an honor or award. This person is called a "nominee,"[2] though nominee often is used interchangeably with "candidate." Presumptive nominee is a term used when a person or organization believes that the nomination is inevitable or likely. The act of being a candidate in a race for either a party nomination or for electoral office is called a "candidacy."[3] Presumptive candidate may be used to describe someone who is predicted to be a formal candidate.

"Candidate" is a derivative of the Latin "candidus" (shining white).[4] In Ancient Rome, people running for political office would usually wear togas chalked and bleached to be bright white at speeches, debates, conventions, and other public functions.[5]

Candidates in elections[edit]

In the context of elections for public office in a representational partisan democracy, a candidate who has been selected by a political party is normally said to be the nominee of that party. The party's selection (that is, the nomination) is typically accomplished either based on one or more primary elections according to the rules of the party and any applicable election laws.[1]

Candidates also may be described as "incumbents", if they are already serving in the office for which they are seeking re-election or "challengers", if they are seeking to unseat an incumbent.

In the context of elections for public office in a direct democracy, a candidate can be nominated by any eligible person—and if parliamentary procedures are used, the nomination has to be seconded, i.e., receive agreement from a second person.

In some non-partisan representative systems (e.g., administrative elections of the Bahá'í Faith), no nominations (or campaigning, electioneering, etc.) take place at all, with voters free to choose any person at the time of voting—with some possible exceptions such as through a minimum age requirement—in the jurisdiction. In such cases, it is not required (or even possible) that the members of the electorate be familiar with all of the eligible persons in their area, though such systems may involve indirect elections at larger geographic levels to ensure that some first-hand familiarity among potential electees can exist at these levels (i.e., among the elected delegates).

Presumptive nominee and presumptive candidate[edit]

In United States politics, the presumptive nominee is a political candidate who - barring unforeseen events or circumstances - is assured of his or her party's nomination, but has not yet been formally nominated. A candidate may be considered a presumptive nominee after all other major competitors have dropped out and it is considered unlikely that the candidate will withdraw, be usurped, or be otherwise removed from the race.

The term is often applied to the candidate who has not yet received the formal nomination of his or her political party at the party's nominating convention, but who has acquired more than 50% of delegate commitments through the primary elections and caucuses prior to the convention.[6] The term is applicable to the candidate's selected running mate as well. The term is applied widely on the national level, notably in regard to the U.S. presidential nominating conventions, as well as at the statewide level.[7]

Different news organizations may declare a person the presumptive nominee based on their own standards. Not all news organizations use the term, other phrases such as "apparent nominee" and "presumed nominee" have been used.[8]

A presumptive nominee is also used to describe a candidate who is thought will eventually become the nominee. For example, Hillary Clinton has been named the presumptive nominee for the 2016 Democratic Party presidential elections in the media. [9]

A presumptive candidate has been used to describe a person who has not officially become a candidate but may in the future. For example, Jeb Bush has been named a presumptive candidate by the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. [10][11]

Age of candidacy[edit]

The age of candidacy refers to the minimum age at which a person can legally qualify to hold certain elected government offices. The United States Constitution sets minimum age requirements, as do state constitutions.

In the United States, a person must be at least thirty-five years of age to be President or Vice President, thirty years of age to be a senator, or twenty-five years of age to be a representative, as specified in the United States Constitution.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Judicial and Statutory Definitions of Words and Phrases, Volume 1, Edition 2, West Publishing Company, 1914, p. 588 p. 618
  2. ^ "Nominee". Merriam Webster. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  3. ^ "Candidacy". Merriam Webster. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  4. ^ "Candidate". Merriam Webster. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  5. ^ "Candidate". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  6. ^ Sabato, Larry; Ernst, Howard R. Encyclopedia of American political parties and elections. Infobase Publishing. 2006. p. 216. ISBN 9780816058754. 
  7. ^ Wiessler, David (March 4, 2008) "FACTBOX: Presidential political terms", Retrieved December 1, 2009.
  8. ^ Zimmer, Ben (June 10, 2008) "The Presumptive Nominee, I Presume?", Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus. Retrieved December 1, 2009.
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Age of Candidacy Law & Legal Definition". Retrieved 2012-11-07.