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What are the Iowa Caucuses anyway?

Filed under: History,Politics — Tags: , , — Paddy Wallbouncer @ 1:13 pm 2008 January 3

Individual states in the US have a way of giving their nod to the people who they think are best fit to become President. Most call these processes “primary’s.”  In Iowa, it’s called a caucus.

There are 99 counties in Iowa. Every two years, in each of the 1784 precincts within these counties, there is a political meeting called a caucus. Every other caucus year is the presidential preference meeting. The Iowa Caucuses receive the most attention because they are currently first of the US presidential primaries in the nation –and have been since 1974. There is a different process for the Democratic and Republican caucus, and it can change in each from year to year, but here is the basic framework:

Currently, the Democratic process involves forming groups in a room and members of the parties try to convince the other members why their candidate is better. Undecided voters then listen to the arguments set forth by the different candidates’ supporters and make a vote. The result is reported through the county system and eventually to the state tally, where it is reported to the media. Republican conventions are much the same. The main difference seems to be that the Democratic is done by an open headcount where the Republicans cast their vote by secret ballot.

2008 Participants in the Iowa Caucus follow (in alphabetical order by last name):

Democrats: Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, Barack Obama, Bill Richardson

Republicans: Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, John McCain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson

Past Winners:

Democrat:
2004 – John Kerry
2000 – Al Gore
1996 – Bill Clinton
1992 – Tom Harkin
1988 – Richard Gephardt
1984 – Walter Mondale
1980 – Jimmy Carter
1976 – “Uncommitted”
1972 – “Uncommitted” and Edmund Muskie tie

Republican:
2004 – George W. Bush
2000 – George W. Bush
1996 – Bob Dole 
1992 – George H. W. Bush
1988 – Bob Dole
1984 – Ronald Reagan
1980 – George H. W. Bush
1976 – Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan

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