Republican Presidential candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks during a campaign stop at Bektash Shriners January 20, 2016 in Concord, New Hampshire. Darren McCollester/Getty Images/AFP
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Americans finally begin choosing next week among the Republican and Democratic candidates battling to be their party's 2016 presidential nominee in a series of state-by-state votes. The White House hopefuls include two highly unorthodox candidates – the politically incorrect billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump for the Republicans, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, for the Democrats – both of whom are running strongly in polls of the first two states with nominating contests – Iowa and New Hampshire.The U.S. primary system that usually decides each party's presidential nominee often skews those choices toward the candidates who voice positions that appeal to voters at the extreme ends in both parties.Dating back to 1980 the candidate for both parties has always clinched the necessary half-plus-one delegates, making the conventions little more than a coronation of the party candidate.Democrats use proportional representation in all states, awarding delegates according to the percentage of the state vote for each candidate.The so-called super delegates are not linked to any one candidate but hold huge power in their ability to get behind a candidate during the primary and caucus process, a sort of thumb on the scales that often helps the candidate most favored by the party establishment.
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