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How exactly does the Caucus Work?

Jackson

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Instead, hardy Iowans must attend public meetings in school gyms, arts centers, churches, libraries, restaurants and even fire stations in 1,681 precincts to vote for a candidate. The process is much longer -- it can take several hours -- and more convoluted than a primary ballot. So we've provided a guide to understanding how the Iowa voting ritual works.
When does it all start?

Caucus meetings for Iowa Democrats and Republicans begin at 7 p.m. Central Time, or 8 p.m. for the East Coast. Anyone who shows up on time can take part. But don't be late. Once the doors close, there is no entry for stragglers.

So how do the GOP caucuses work?

The GOP process is the simpler one.
Caucus meetings begin with the Pledge of Allegiance and then activists get straight to the main event -- selecting their presidential candidates in a binding vote.
Each campaign gets the chance to have a representative make a final pitch to any wavering voters before a secret ballot. Some caucus sites might use a printed ballot paper. Others just go with a candidate's name on a scrap of paper.
Raw totals of votes are tallied by local party officials and sent to Iowa GOP headquarters, where a running count is kept.

And the Democratic ones?

The Democratic caucus system is a little more intricate.
As soon as the meetings open, attendees must declare a preference for a candidate.
Typically, backers of each presidential hopeful physically stake out positions around the room. People who still can't make up their mind join a group known as "uncommitted."
This is where it gets complicated. In order to be considered "viable," a group must clear a certain threshold -- usually around 15% of the entire caucus turnout in each precinct.
Once first-round votes are tallied, anyone stuck in a group that is not "viable" has the chance to align with a candidate who has passed the threshold.

Is that the only difference?

No. A controversial aspect of the Democratic caucuses is the lack of a secret ballot.
That means people will have to live with the vote they cast in front of their friends and neighbors for the next four years. And the faint of heart may be susceptible to pressure from more vociferous contemporaries.
Thus, a candidate who wins the first round of a caucus is not home safe. They can still end up losing if their supporters fail to win over backers of candidates eliminated for not passing the threshold and instead see that support go elsewhere -- one reason why the organization and training of precinct captains is so crucial for campaigns

Who shows up to vote?

For some voters, it's all too much trouble.
So the actual electorate in the caucuses is only a fraction of the tallies of registered Democrats and Republicans who will vote in the fall. That's one reason why you often hear complaints that the caucuses are hardly the most democratic process -- especially given the state's disproportionate influence on the presidential race

Can independents participate?

Another wrinkle that angers critics is the way independents are shut out: Only registered Democrats or Republicans can take part.

When will we know who won?

The final tabulated results will be declared by the Democratic and Republican Parties. It could all be wrapped up between about 11 p.m. ET and midnight. But soon after the caucus doors close, it should be possible for CNN to report on where the race is heading and begin the process of projecting a winner and estimating the delegate count
Will there be any signs of a winner earlier than that?
The elevated level of commitment demanded of caucus-goers is one reason why the vote is so tough to forecast -- no one can tell exactly who is going to show up.
This time around, for instance, the hopes of Sanders and Trump rely on their neophyte political operations turning out thousands of new voters who have never attended caucus meetings in the past.

What are the Iowa caucuses? - CNNPolitics.com
 

Rouge Rover

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I didn't know the Democrats didn't allow a secret ballot. Peer pressure in American voting.
 

Timmy

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Am I the only one who giggles like a 5th grader when I hear "cock -us "? Huh huh huh huh huh.
 

Weatherman2020

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The way it works is the media hypes it up for 6 months, candidates spend tens of millions of dollars and thousands of hours campaigning there, then when the results come in everyone says the results don't really matter.
 
OP
Jackson

Jackson

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The way it works is the media hypes it up for 6 months, candidates spend tens of millions of dollars and thousands of hours campaigning there, then when the results come in everyone says the results don't really matter.
It's true many presidents have won the nomination without Iowa. I think the only reality of the early caucuses are that doing well in them give the candidate momentum, more funds and name recognition.
 

WillHaftawaite

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Seems Clinton might be stretching the rules a bit at the caucus.

Sanders campaign cites ‘alarming’ signs Clinton plans to pack the caucuses

"Weaver’s concern is based on what he described as an “alarming” letter received by a voter named Dennis Clifford in Hawarden, Iowa. Although Clifford is a Sanders supporter, the letter, from a Clinton campaign office in Sioux City, urged him to caucus for Clinton and identified a non-resident as his local precinct captain. That would not actually be prohibited, but Weaver, who admitted he wasn’t familiar with the rules, claimed it indicated the Clinton campaign is “infiltrating the caucuses with out-of-state paid staffers.”"
 

Siete

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Delegates .... 1,237 needed for nomination ... 2,472 available

divide that up between Trump, Cruz, and/or 1 Establishment guy, and you get ......


Charlie Foxtrot
 

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