For those who do not yet know, the Iowa Caucus is this Monday, on February 1st. Most people know that the Iowa Caucus is an important part of the election cycle, however, few know what the Iowa Caucus, or a caucus in general, actually is.
Let’s begin with the basics, a caucus, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “a closed meeting of a group of persons belonging to the same political party or faction usually to select candidates or to decide on policy.” Basically, a caucus is a meeting where registered voters vote for a candidate or delegate.
This year, the voters at the caucuses will be voting for the nominees for President of the United States. There will be a vote for the Republican nominee and the Democratic nominee.
Some of you may be wondering: “what makes a caucus different from a primary?” In a primary, voters vote directly for the candidate that they want, using secret ballots. This is very similar to the process used in an actual election. However, in a caucus, voters go to special caucus meetings where they vote for candidates by raising hands or breaking off into groups. One major difference between primaries and caucuses, is that as opposed to the secret ballots in primaries, caucuses have voters show open support.
Why is the Iowa Caucus so important? Well, it is the first caucus/primary in the campaign for a political party nomination. If a candidate from a party can secure the Iowa Caucus, than it will appear that the candidate is winning. This allows for the candidate to have momentum going into the next state. That is why swing states, like Iowa and New Hampshire are so important, they can influence the decisions of voters in other states.
Most candidates will be working extremely hard to win the votes in the Iowa Caucus. However, is should be noted that the Iowa Caucus is not the be-all and end-all. If you look at the 2012 Iowa Caucus, Rick Santorum beat Mitt Romney and secured the state of Iowa, but we all know who got the Republican nomination and ran against Barack Obama.