Happy Primary Season, It’s Iowa Caucus Day!

Since 1972, Iowa has kicked off the primary season for the United States’ Presidential elections. Iowans tonight will gather in public places like community centers, schools, and churches to elect their party’s national convention delegates.  The presidential candidates are awarded delegates proportionally based on the caucus results.

Photo: ivosar/iStock/Thinkstock
Photo: ivosar/iStock/Thinkstock

Different Rules for Different Parties

Democrats and Republicans will open their caucuses tonight at 7:00pm central time. Iowan Republicans and Democrats have different methods in selecting their delegates.  Iowa Republicans utilize a ballot system to elect their precinct delegates, while the Iowa Democrats follow a more complex process.  Democratic supporters at the precinct gatherings separate into small-groups according to their candidate preference. If a candidate receives less than 15 percent of the support within the room, the candidate is thus eliminated and his or her supporters are courted by other groups.  The presidential candidates are then awarded delegates proportionally based on the results; these precinct delegates will then attend one of the 99 county-level conventions to advocate on behalf of the candidate they supported for at the 1,681 precinct levels later in 2016.

Significance of Iowa

Stay tuned with NAfME for the results of tonight’s caucus in Iowa. Historically, Iowa’s caucuses have been known for its significance in shutting down campaigns and giving other candidates momentum.  It will be interesting to see which campaigns will pull ahead and which will be dropping out.

Iowa Caucuses 2016: How the Caucuses Work (ABC News)

Iowa Caucuses: 5 Things to Watch (CNN)

First Read: Setting Expectations in Iowa (NBC News)

Ronny Lau, Legislative Policy Advisor, Center for Advocacy, Policy, and Constituency Engagement, February 1, 2016. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)