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Presidential contenders Top Republican candidates appeared at a recent debate. (EPA / Brian Blanco / Newscom)

Who Will Run Against President Obama?

Primary season is gearing up, and Republican candidates are battling it out to face President Obama in November

By Natalie Smith | December 12 , 2012

Where does the road to the White House begin? For the candidates who want to challenge President Barack Obama, one could say it starts in Iowa.

Obama is running for re-election and is almost certain to be the nominee, or choice, of the Democratic Party. So all eyes are on the race to see which Republican will run against him.

Several Republican contenders have spent much of 2011 campaigning to become their party’s pick for President. People campaign by working over a period of time to reach a goal, such as to win an election. Last Saturday, most major Republican candidates participated in a presidential debate in Iowa that helped win more support for some and lose support for others.

But the race officially begins next month, when Republicans start voting for whomever they’d like to be the nominee. The first contest is in Iowa on January 3. The next is in New Hampshire on January 10.

These contests take two forms—caucuses and primaries. Iowa is one of several states that hold caucuses. Caucuses are a series of meetings held across the state. At these meetings, party members discuss the candidates and openly vote for their top choices. But most states, including New Hampshire, hold primaries instead. In a primary, people go to the polls to vote by secret ballot.

The results of the primaries and caucuses will determine which Republican candidate squares off against President Obama in November.

GETTING AN EDGE

Over the next six months, all 50 states and the District of Columbia will hold primaries or caucuses. The contests in Iowa and New Hampshire get extra attention because they take place first.

Although neither state has a large population, candidates who do well there can get a big boost to their campaigns. Candidates who do poorly in these early races, though, often drop out.

Which Republican will win in Iowa? Last month, polls showed Herman Cain to be a voter favorite. But now Cain has left the race. Two months ago, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was leading in opinion polls, and before that, voters favored Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Texas Governor Rick Perry. With three weeks before the Iowa caucus begins, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia is the current front-runner. Stay tuned to Scholastic News to find out who will take the lead in January.

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