Did you know that Iowa plays a very large part in determining the future of our country? No, I’m not referring to corn production, or even the votes we cast in the electoral college. I’m talking about the caucus. Before anyone sees this and runs away because they don’t want to see someone else’s opinion on the candidates, let me stress that this is not a plea to vote for any particular candidate at all. This is just a plea for you to get out and vote in the caucus on Monday February 1st.
What is the caucus?
The caucus here in Iowa is the first step to determining the nominees for presidency and gauge how they stack up to their competitors. We hold the distinction of being the first preliminary vote every election cycle. Without a doubt, this election cycle makes the caucus or primaries in each state incredibly important. As Iowans, a tremendous emphasis is placed on us in the slice of heaven that we inhabit.
What happens at the caucus?
First, it’s not anything like going to vote like we do in November. Each precinct (there are 1,681 in Iowa) has a designated location where voters meet. Republicans and Democrats each hold separate caucuses that bring in their respective registered participants. You can change party affiliation at the caucus as well, so don’t feel like you are bound to the party you have already declared. Anyone who will be 18 or older at the time of the general election is welcome.
Each party has a slightly different process when it comes to the caucus. The Republican caucus is a true secret ballot where a vote for a candidate is cast. The Democratic caucus includes a period of time in which undecided voters are allowed to speak with voters who support candidates in an effort to help them decide which candidate they support. Each candidate's supporters are then counted and viability is determined (a candidate must have 15% of the vote to be viable). The supporters of candidates who are no longer viable are allowed to realign with the still viable candidates supporters and a final count is taken. The whole process generally takes about an hour.
What happens after the caucus?
With Iowa being the first state to have a caucus or primary, there is some time after the vote in which other states conduct their own votes. These contests run all the way into the middle of June. Both party National Conventions (both Republican and Democratic) meet in late July and announce their nominees at that time. History has shown that early caucus winners tend to garner momentum in the states that follow.
Why is this important if nothing is final?
Declaring your support of a candidate is something we all should do. This election cycle puts particular emphasis on that point. Within both parties, there are tight races for potential nomination. This means that just a few votes here or there can mean a world of difference. If you’ve been watching any news media within the past few weeks, you’ve heard about the push for Iowa. Candidates are making many speaking stops all over our great state over the next week to try and garner more support at the caucus.
Get out there and make your support heard at the caucus on February 1st. The more people we get out there participating on caucus night, the more we make our Iowa voices heard. We can show the nation that we are passionate about our convictions, wherever they may lie.
Find the 2016 Iowa Democratic Caucus locations here and the 2016 Iowa Republican Caucus locations here. Talk to your family, friends and neighbors. Let’s create a great turnout for the 2016 Iowa Caucus!
*While the video below was made to teach about the 2012 Iowa caucus, much of it is still relevant to how the caucus process works today!