Iowa caucus a primer: the process

T&A1987 T&A1987
When it comes to choosing presidential electors, there are three common types of selection processes, a straw poll, a caucus and a primary. Each one is progressively more inclusive and more simplistic in their system of electing delegates. Despite this, each has its own value and relevance in the process.

When a straw poll is held, activists attend a meeting where speeches are given in favor of the candidates and then attendees vote for their preferred candidate. These are mostly attended by the party faithful and activists; in fact any have strict regulations about who may attend. A straw poll does not actually select any delegates, but rather is a test of support amongst party activists. A win may create momentum for the candidate, but usually all a straw poll will do is create something for politicians to brag and political reporters to write about. Consider them just above useless.

A caucus is a gathering of party members (although in Iowa, anyone can switch parties to vote) where speeches are made and voting takes place. The Iowa caucus will begin at 8 PM EST/7 CST and usually usually lasts about an hour to an hour and a half. This provides an advantage to those with more free time, such as seniors, people without children, or with childcare. Activists will gather in school auditoriums, Waffle houses and other meeting places where precinct leaders will make impassioned speeches about the candidates. After the speeches are made, everyone will write down their preferred candidate and leave. Once the votes are tallied, the leaders will report the results to the secretary of state’s office and results will trickle in around 8:30-9:30. After the voting takes place, the delegates aren’t technically chosen, there are four more processes afterwards, but the results of the remaining processes follow that of the caucus.

In contrast, a primary basically the same as a general election, except that people choose within their own party and far fewer people attend. A voter goes to their station, votes and leaves. The window for voting usually lasts about 12 hours, from 7-7, or 8-8, although it varies by state.

Caucuses are nothing more than overblown straw polls and tend to favor those with free time, child care, or no children. Primaries meanwhile, with their wide frame of time for voting are more inclusive.
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