With the next presidential election roughly a year-and-a-half away, numerous candidates are throwing their hats in the ring to make a bid for the top elected office in the United States. Individuals who might one day have aspirations of their own may be wondering how a candidate enters the presidential race. In actuality, all presidential candidates must follow certain guidelines, meet specific rules, and partake in established processes. Prospective presidential candidates must meet certain eligibility guidelines, including:

Age
Any presidential candidate must be at least 35-years-of-age. There are no exceptions.

Citizenship 
Presidential hopefuls must hold United States citizenship and have resided in the country for a minimum of 14 years.

Provided the prospective candidates meet these requirements, they are eligible to run for president. Though helpful, attributes like previous experience in political office are not mandatory perquisites.

Campaign Finance Requirements
A declared candidate that has raised at least $5,000 to finance their campaign must register this information with the Federal Election Commission.

The Election Process 
Once a candidate meets all of the eligibility requirements and executes the appropriate declarations, that individual moves on to the process of creating their campaign. This means establishing a platform, fortifying positions on key issues, and interacting with voters from across the country.

To earn the presidential nomination from one of the major political parties, the candidate in question must earn a specific number of delegates from each state when the official nominating process is completed at the respective party’s national convention. However, the delegate accumulation process begins with the participation in individual state elections known as primaries and caucuses. 

Following each primary or caucus, the top vote-receiving candidate receives the most delegates. In many instances, candidates who experience poor or disappointing showings in the early primaries or caucuses might decide to end their bid for the nomination. Candidates who do not perform well often experience a diminished following and noticeable decline in campaign contributions.

Official Party Nomination
Once a candidate receives a specific amount of delegates, the individual in question is then eligible to receive the party’s official nomination at the organization’s national convention. It is during this event that each state’s officials certify the delegates and decide to award them to the candidate in question.