How Do The Iowa Caucuses Work?

December 29, 2011

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It’s not like a regular primary. You don’t go to your normal polling location. It’s not something you can do before or after work. It’s quite different.

I can speak for the Republican caucus because I’ve been the Chair for my location. As far as the Democrats go, well, I only have to go off of what I’ve been told from my dad. Yes, my parents were registered Democrats. I was raised a Democrat. I turned them.

From what I understand of the Democrat caucus (when it is contested), you go to your caucus location and break into groups of the candidate you support. There’s a percentage your candidate must reach in order to be considered “viable”. When there is a group that isn’t a “viable” group, the other groups try to coerce the “un-viable” candidates to their group. It all just sounds a little too shady to me.

As far as the Republicans go, you go to your caucus location, listen to speakers, either the actual candidates or those who’ve been chosen to speak on behalf of the candidate, pass the “buck bucket” as a fundraiser for the party and then vote. Each person gets one slip of paper (usually colored paper to prevent fraud) and you write your choice. The votes are tallied (usually as more people speak) and the winner is announced. One person, one vote. Sounds fair to me.

It can take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours, depending on the speakers, the size of the precinct, and the questions (usually from Dems who have switched sides).

It may sound complex but the GOP event really is straight forward. Have fun, good luck and enjoy the process and blessing that we, as Iowans, get.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Martin Kelly
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 21:59:20

    Crunchy, the only thing you missed was the inputs to the state convention for planks of the platform and the nomination of delegates. At my precinct, there was also a push for delegates for the junior convention made up of high school students.

    At the Democratic caucus, it is persuasion, not coercion. They also have a wide variety of goodies, including cookies, to entice people to join them. At the Republican caucus, there are cookies, coffee and juice available until everyone sits down to politely listen to each speaker. The Republicans my be more orderly, but the Democrats seem to have more fun.


  2. kosmo
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 22:40:20

    Cookies, you say? Hmm, perhaps I shall try this some time 🙂

    Actually, though, I have a number of reasons why I don’t participate in party politics. More on that in a future article.


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