Presidential nominee

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In United States politics and government, the term presidential nominee has two different meanings:

  1. A candidate for president of the United States who has been selected by the delegates of a political party at the party's national convention (also called a presidential nominating convention) to be that party's official candidate for the presidency.[1]
  2. A person nominated by a sitting U.S. president to an executive or judicial post, subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.[2] (See Appointments Clause, List of positions filled by presidential appointment with Senate confirmation.)

Presumptive nominee[edit]

In United States presidential elections, the presumptive nominee is a presidential candidate who is assumed to be their party's nominee, but has not yet been formally nominated or elected by their political party at the party's nominating convention.[3][4] Ordinarily, a candidate becomes the presumptive nominee of their party when their "last serious challenger drops out"[5] or when the candidate "mathematically clinches—whichever comes first. But there is still room for interpretation."[6] A candidate mathematically clinches a nomination by securing a simple majority (i.e., more than 50 percent) of delegates through the primaries and caucuses prior to the convention.[3][4] The time at which news organizations begin to refer to a candidate as the "presumptive nominee" varies from election to election.[6] The shift in media usage from "front-runner" to "presumptive nominee" is considered a significant change for a campaign.[6]

In the modern era, it is the norm for the major political parties' nominees to be "clear well before the conventions";[4] in the past, however, some conventions have begun with the outcome in doubt, requiring multiple rounds of balloting to select a nominee.[7] The last major party conventions with more than one ballot for president occurred in 1972 for the Democrats and 1948 for the Republicans.[7]

Losing candidates, after withdrawing from the primary race, often "release" their delegates, who frequently declare support for the presumptive nominee.[8]

A presumptive nominee typically will have already selected a vice presidential running mate before the convention—see veepstakes.[7][9][10] In the past, the choice of vice presidential nominee has been made by the convention itself.[7]

The term "presumptive nominee" is disliked by some writers; language commentator William Safire called it a "bogus title" and preferred the phrase presumed nominee, which was used by The New York Times in 2004.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Peter R. Kann & Lee Hudson Teslik (February 4, 2008), "Backgrounder: The Role of Delegates in the U.S. Presidential Nominating Process", Council on Foreign Relations via The New York Times.
  2. ^ John G. Geer, Wendy J. Schiller & Jeffrey A. Segal, Gateways to Democracy: An Introduction to American Government (2d ed.: Wadsworth/Centgage Learning 2014), p. 406.
  3. ^ a b Sabato, Larry; Ernst, Howard R. Encyclopedia of American Political Parties and Elections. Infobase Publishing. 2006. p. 216. ISBN 9780816058754.
  4. ^ a b c Wiessler, David (March 4, 2008) "Factbox: Presidential political terms", Reuters.
  5. ^ Dann, Carrie (May 26, 2016). "Trump Hit the 'Magic Number.' So, What Does That Mean?". NBC News. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c Nathaniel Rakich, "What Makes a Presidential Nominee 'Presumptive'?", The New Republic (May 3, 2016).
  7. ^ a b c d Stephen K. Medvic (2013). Campaigns and Elections: Players and Processes (2d ed.). Routledge. p. 144. ISBN 9781136265556.
  8. ^ Barbara Norrander, The Imperfect Primary: Oddities, Biases, and Strengths of U.S. Presidential Nomination Politics (2d ed.: Routledge, 2015), p. 25.
  9. ^ Eleanor Clift & Matthew Spieler, Selecting a President (Macmillan, 2012), p. 41.
  10. ^ Norrander, p. 25.
  11. ^ Ben Zimmer (June 10, 2008), "The Presumptive Nominee, I Presume?", Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus.