What is the Iowa Republican Caucus? What it isn’t is an election–there are no ballot requirements to meet, and usually not even a ballot. Caucus-goers gather in one of 1800 precincts, given blank sheets of paper, then listen (or don’t) to the people who are willing to stand up and argue for “their” candidate. Each speaker gets two minutes. Then they write down their choice for President, leave, and someone from the Republican Party of Iowa counts the votes. (The Iowa Democratic Caucus is different.)
Iowa’s Republican caucus means a lot to Iowans, who get to claim “first in the nation” decision-making; it’s important to candidates, no matter where they place; and it gives the media a chance to report news and pretend-news.
None of these votes are binding (standard for our electoral college); and the Iowa caucus doesn’t end with the people voting for a nominee. Some people stick around and vote for delegates. These aren’t binding either: precinct delegates are the 1st round winners with 4 more to go. The few still standing get to cast their vote at the Big One: The 2012 Presidential Election. Or the Republican National Convention. I forget.
There are flurries of exit polls, the press divides the number of delegates by the number of Republicans who showed up to vote, multiplies that by the percentage of votes each candidate received, adds in the number of babies kissed per politician, divided by the percentage of poopy diapers (the babies, not the candidates). Voila! The media present their magic numbers, and talk themselves silly until New Hampshire.
Can you say “dog and pony show”?
- What is the Iowa Caucus? (worldviewtonight.wordpress.com)
- Iowa Caucus: It’s Actually Totally Okay If You Haven’t The Faintest Clue About What Is Going To Happen (huffingtonpost.com)
- Don’t Be Surprised If Tomorrow’s Iowa Caucus Results Are Surprising (slog.thestranger.com)
- Iowa caucus-goers, by the numbers (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)