Wednesday, January 2, 2008

How the Caucuses Work

How the Iowa Caucuses Work

For those who this will be their 1st caucus…this is how it works

Tomorrow night both Democrats and Republicans will gather to conduct precinct caucuses. The caucuses include selection of delegates to represent the precinct at County conventions, discussion of the issues, and most importantly a decision on the Presidential Candidate Preference. The Democrats and Republicans conduct their caucuses differently.


Everyone can participate in the caucuses. Those that are not registered to vote can register that night at the caucus. Those that are 17 now but will be 18 by the Presidential Election can also participate in the caucuses. Once registered, those caucusing can do so at their precinct. One can find out which precinct is theirs by contacting the County election office. At 6:00 the doors open and at 6:30 the caucus is called to order, at 7 pm the preference groups are formed. The process generally lasts about an hour; caucuses are generally held at high schools or some other public building.

"Preference groups," are where participants' preferences for a candidate become public. All the supporters of Hillary Clinton will go to one corner, all the supporters of Barack Obama to another, etc. If a candidate doesn't have 15 percent of the total, his or her supporters must realign with another group. Once everyone is in a group with at least 15 percent, delegates to the county convention are apportioned based on the size of the preference group.

So, for example, if the precinct sends 10 delegates to the county convention, those 10 delegates are allocated based on the percentage of people in a preference group. So if Senator Obama has 60 percent and Senator Clinton has 40 percent, Senator Obama would get six delegates and Clinton would get four.

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