Iowa Caucus 101

Monday, February 3 marks the day that Democratic nominee hopefuls have been awaiting. The outcome of the Iowa Caucus will set the tone for the rest of the presidential election throughout 2020.

Unlike Illinois, where we cast a ballot on primary election day, Iowa voters get to “caucus” for their choice candidate. The process is lengthy and complicated but exciting nonetheless. On caucus day, Iowans will gather at homes, churches, schools, and other public buildings and physically vote with their bodies.

Each candidate’s team performs a pitch to the voters after which the voters split themselves in preference groups based on which candidate they support. In order to be considered viable, the candidates must obtain a following of at least 15% of voters at the caucus location. If a group is not viable, those voters can realign with a candidate who has reached the 15% threshold.

While this process is much more time-consuming than casting a written ballot, it arguably promotes a stronger sense of involvement in the election process and encourages community members to be engaged.

Following the day’s events, the Iowa Democratic Party will release three main results: First Expression of Preference – the tally before the realignment takes place for candidates who don’t reach the 15 percent threshold; Final Expression of Preference – the tally after the realignment; State Delegate Equivalents – the ratio of state-to-county convention delegates determined by the final expression of preference at each caucus site. This number is usually used to determine the “winner” of the caucus.

Emma Hildebrand – Editor in Chief

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