Iowa caucuses explained

With the caucuses now less the a day away, let us break down Iowa's unusual caucuses.

For the Democratic Party, caucuses form all around the state based upon specified precincts. Unlike the primaries, where voters pick candidates via ballots, caucuses form and ultimately pick one candidate. Caucuses take place at schools and libraries, and truly are groups of people whom convene and decide whom they like most. For example, one caucus may consist of 100 people. Within that caucus, one candidate will be selected by process of elimination. They use a 15% rule. People break up into the groups of whom they favor. The candidate must receive 15% of the vote. So, if there were 7 candidates, and 3 candidates received 20% each, and the other 4 candidates received 40% combined - but not one getting at least 15%, those people must then pick from the other 3 candidates.`So now, lets call the first three candidates A,B, and C. A ends up after the others were forced to re vote with 40%, B the same, and C now has only 20%. C is forced to re vote between the top 2. Now B has 55%, and A only %45. B wins. And then that county or precincts caucus sends their vote tally to their respective headquarters.

For the Republican Party, its a different story. Secret ballots determine delegates. "The vote determines which delegates, representing which candidates, will attend county conventions. There, delegates are chosen for state congressional district conventions, where delegate to national convention are picked.

The Republicans use a winner-take-all system. Whichever candidate wins the caucuses takes all of the delegates for the state."

I hope that helps as I saw that on CNN this and referenced another article i posted previously.

Here it is as explained in further detail by wiki "The Iowa caucus operates very differently from the more common primary election used by most other states (see U.S. presidential primary). The caucus is generally defined as a "gathering of neighbors." Rather than going to polls and casting ballots, Iowans gather at a set location in each of Iowa's 1784 precincts. Typically, these meetings occur in schools, churches, or public libraries. The caucuses are held every two years, but the ones that receive national attention are the presidential preference caucuses held every four years. In addition to the voting and the presidential preference choices, caucus-goers begin the process of writing their parties’ platforms by introducing resolutions. [1]

Unlike the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary, the Iowa caucus does not result directly in national delegates for each candidate. Instead, caucus-goers elect delegates to county conventions, who elect delegates to district and state conventions where the national convention delegates are selected.[citation needed]

The Republicans and Democrats each hold their own set of caucuses subject to their own particular rules that change from time to time. Participants in each party's caucuses must be registered with that party. Participants can change their registration at the caucus location. Additionally, 17-year-olds can participate, as long as they will be 18 years old by the date of the general election. Observers are allowed to attend, as long as they do not become actively involved in the debate and voting process.


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"What you need to know about the caucuses"


What you need to know about the caucuses


Published on: 01/02/08

Thursday's nights caucuses in Iowa combine high-stakes politics and old-style community meetings. The results will shape the GOP and Democratic campaigns and spark some candidates to drop out from the 2008 White House race.

The caucuses are such a big deal in Iowa that a musical was written about them. laywright Robert John Ford sits on the set for 'CAUCUS! The Musical' in Des Moines. The play centers on Iowa farmer Eldon Wise and his family, who the media has dubbed 'the typical Iowa caucus-goers.' Like other Iowans, they're bombarded with phone calls, e-mails, negative ads and personal visits -- all of which stir up debate and sometimes rifts between relatives.

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Q. Which candidates are on the ballot in Iowa?

A. Republicans: Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, John McCain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson. Democrats: Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Christopher Dodd, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, Barack Obama, Bill Richardson.

Q. How do the caucuses work?

A. In each of Iowa's nearly 2,000 voting precincts, Democrats and Republicans hold separate meetings on caucus night. The meetings can be held almost anywhere - in schools, firehouses, church basements and even living rooms. Anybody registered member of a party can attend that party's meeting.


Republicans vote in the caucuses by secret ballots. The vote determines which delegates, representing which candidates, will attend county conventions. There, delegates are chosen for state congressional district conventions, where delegate to national convention are picked.

The Republicans use a winner-take-all system. Whichever candidate wins the caucuses takes all of the delegates for the state.


The meeting divides into groups, each supporting a particular candidate. If a candidate doesn't have a sufficient percentage of the total number of voters attending, its members join other candidates' groups. When that redistribution finally ends with groups of sufficient size, the delegates are divided among them according to the percentage of the meetings' attendees they represent. The process then proceeds through the county and state conventions. At the national convention, the candidates receive delegates proportionately, rather than the winner taking all of the state's delegates.

Q. What time do the caucuses begin (local time)?

A. Regardless of the date, the Democratic caucuses will begin at 6:30 p.m. (doors open at 6) while Republicans begin at 7 p.m.

Q. What time are the caucuses finished?

A. Most should be done by 8 p.m. At some, people like to argue politics and platforms, but the presidential voting should be done by 8 or so, unless the turnout is large and unwieldy. That could happen with all the interest being generated in this election.

Q. How does a caucus differ from a primary election?

A. Unlike a caucus, a primary is carried out in a virtually identical manner to a general election contest, with participants going to polling place or, depending on state election procedures, voting at home for their preferred candidates. A primary election attracts a broader swath of the electorate, in part because it requires a shorter time commitment. A caucus takes longer to conduct and tends to attract dedicated party activists.

Q. Where are these caucuses held?

A. In a wide variety of locations such as schools, churches, community centers, public libraries and even private homes.

Q. Can a presidential candidate fare poorly in Iowa and still recover and win the nomination?

A. Historical caucus results have spawned a conventional wisdom that there are "three tickets out of Iowa." In every contested Iowa caucus since 1972, only once has a presidential candidate finished worse than third and gone on to become his party's presidential candidates.

Q. The weather often affects turnout. What is the outlook?

A. Mostly sunny, with a high of 29 degrees, a low of 22.

Q. What is the turnout prediction?

A: 120,000-150,000 Democrats; 80,000-90,000 Republicans

Q. What's the "Iowa bounce"?

A. The momentum gained by a candidate who exceeds expectations in Iowa.


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