OCCUPY THE IOWA CAUCUS: IOWA CAUCUS FAQ
IOWA CAUCUS FAQ
Q:What is a caucus?
A: A party meeting at the precinct level at which citizens express their candidate preferences and pick delegates to their county conventions. These meetings, held in each of the state’s 1784 precincts, typically draw anywhere from a handful of people in rural areas to hundreds in suburban areas.
Q:Who takes part?
A: Registered voters old enough to vote in the November general election. In years past the caucus has drawn upwards of 150,000 participants statewide.
Q:Why is it politically significant?
A: Iowa is the first state in the nation where voters select the delegates it will send to Republican and Democratic national conventions, where each party nominates its candidate for the presidency. The Iowa Caucus is seen as the first real test of the presidential candidates. Persuading a group of average citizens to show up in support of a candidate is considered a sign of organizational strength. At the same time, the caucus system allows candidates to develop and hone their message before relatively small groups.
Q: What happens at a caucus?
A: Participants, led by a chairperson, indicate their preferences for their party’s presidential nomination, pick delegates to their county conventions and discuss party business, including their party platforms.
The Republican caucus operates like a straw poll by secret ballot.
The Democratic caucus asks voters to stand next to other people supporting their chosen candidate. All the votes for each candidate are counted. A candidate must have the support of 15 percent of those present at any meeting, precinct caucuses through the state convention, to remain “viable.” If a candidate doesn’t have enough supporters, the voters supporting him or her have an opportunity to switch their support to another viable candidate. This process can be boisterous as voters try to convince people to join their candidate’s group. Once everyone has regrouped, a second count is taken which determines how that precinct’s delegates will be divided among the candidates.
The party business portion of the meeting involves hearing 2 minute proposals from voters, which are voted on for inclusion in the party’s platform.
Q:What happens next?
A: Delegates chosen at the caucuses go to the county convention later in the year. There, the field is winnowed and delegates are chosen for the district convention. This happens again at district meetings and again at the state convention, where delegates are named to attend the party’s national convention.
Q:Why are the numbers from each party different?
A: The Republicans essentially hold a straw poll — a head count — at their precinct caucuses, reporting real numbers. One head, one vote.
The Democrats do not report straight numbers, but use a mathematical formula to determine support for a presidential candidate in percentages.
Q: Can I attend the caucus to observe if I’m not eligible to vote?
This FAQ based on: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22493571/#.TtPeLLIk6so
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