English phrases for describing elections

Voting box

How can you describe what happens in an election in English? Here are some phrases to help you talk about them.

People cast their votes for their preferred candidates in an election. Most candidates belong to a political party. In the United States, the two main parties are the Republican Party (Republicans) and the Democratic Party (Democrats).

For each government position, called a "public office", there is a "race". So there is the presidential race, Congressional races (for electing members of Congress), Senate races, and various local races. The candidate who already holds the office that they're running for is called the incumbent, while the other candidates are called the challengers.

Candidates "run for office" by raising money, giving speeches, airing TV commercials, participating in debates, and so on. The "race" theme also extends to some other phrases. Throughout the campaign, we talk about which candidate is "in the lead" according to pre-election polls. When they have equal numbers of supporters, we say that they're "dead even".

The organization that helps the candidate run for office is their "campaign". Each campaign has a campaign manager. We also use the word "campaign" to talk about what the candidates do to run for office. So you can say that a candidate is "running a negative campaign" (attacking the other candidates) or "campaigning hard".

On election day, voters go to their local polling stations and vote. To vote, you go to one of the voting booths to fill out your ballot. Some people use an absentee ballot if they can't make it to the polling stations on election day.

The U.S. has a complicated electoral college system. Instead of directly electing the president, Americans elect representatives from each state who will then select the president. Because of this, states that are more evenly split between the two parties are a lot more important than others. We call these battleground states.

After the presidential election, there's an inauguration a few months later. Until the inauguration, the chosen candidate is called the President Elect. The President Elect is sworn in at the inauguration, and from that moment on is officially the president.

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