What You Need to Know Before the Iowa Caucus
1 year ago
If your GOP fatigue got the best of you, the real madness kicks off tonight
The official start to the 2012 campaign is tonight at 8pm EST (7pm Central) with the Iowa Caucus. Republican presidential hopefuls who have been debating up a storm and making their final pitches to Iowa voters will face the music. For some of the candidates in the field it is the beginning of the end and for others it is just the beginning of what could shape up to be a long primary fight for the Republican nomination.
So what is a caucus anyway? Here are a few key things you need to know:
A caucus is not the same thing as a primary.
A caucus is not where eligible voters in Iowa go to their precincts to cast a ballot for the candidate they like in a booth by pulling the lever and walking out to go home. A caucus takes a few hours and on a cold winter night in Iowa, campaign organization and field staff matter. In the Iowa caucus, about 150,000 eligible Iowa voters (including 17 year olds who turn 18 by November 6, 2012) will go to their respective precincts. Each candidate is expected to have a surrogate of the campaign (most likely a local volunteer) at each of the 1,774 precincts who will speak for two to three minutes in an attempt to sway any undecided voters. The precincts depending on the amount of voters are not only schools but also stadiums. The voters are seated for the entirety of the speeches and once those are completed they are handed a blank sheet of paper where they are instructed to identify the candidate of their choice in the Presidential Preference Poll. The votes are then tallied while everyone is still seated and the winner is announced and the totals are sent to the state’s Republican party.