How Does the Iowa Caucus Work?


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Republicans take a straw poll to choose a nominee

On Feb. 1, 2016, residents of Iowa’s nearly 2,000 voting precincts will take to the polls to vote for their favorite Republican or Democratic candidates. This process determines each party’s nominee for the national conventions. The sole purpose of the caucus is to choose delegates based on the population of each of the 99 counties in Iowa. These delegates will travel to the congressional district convention, state convention, and finally, to the national convention for their party’s nomination.

The Republican caucus is very simple. It is conducted by straw poll, which is often done by a show of hands or groupings according to candidate in each zone. In precincts that only elect one delegate, the vote must be taken by paper ballot. (Source

The Democratic caucus process is more complicated. The registered Democratic voters gather in meetings throughout the precincts.  The voters debate each candidate and gather in groups supporting a specific candidate. The candidate’s group must have at least 15% of the majority to continue. If the minimum percentage requirement is not met, the non-viable candidate supporters must disband and join another candidate group with a viable majority. If the voters decide that another candidate is not desirable they may choose to create a group of uncommitted voters or choose to not be counted. A group that is designated as non-viable has 30 minutes to realign with another candidate or remain uncounted. Delegates are then awarded by majority percentages. (Source

The Iowa Caucus is deemed a good barometer of Iowa’s national delegation sent to the national convention which selects the Presidential nominees of each party.  As the Iowa caucuses loom, many Presidential candidates from both parties are making their presence known in The Hawkeye State.