What to Watch for as the Iowa Caucus Unfolds…



After months of talking about it and predicting the 2016 Presidential race starts for real tonight with the Iowa Caucuses. And Iowa takes their caucuses very seriously, just look at the banner headline from today’s Des Moines Register (above).

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Toss out the polls, and throw out the conventional wisdom about what an Iowa win means.  This is not a typical year.

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A caucus is not the same as a primary, and in Iowa a caucus is not even the same for each party.

For the Re­pub­lic­ans at each caucus, people from each campaign for each of the cam­paigns give a speech to the group, from there there is discussion (arguing?) and finally there is a secret ballot poll of everyone there and the res­ults are re­por­ted to the state party via a Microsoft created app.

With the Demo­crat­s their process diverges from the GOP after the speeches. Instead of voting, supporters of can­did­ates are split up in­to dif­fer­ent sec­tions of the room.  Un­com­mit­ted caucus-go­ers have their own “group.”  If a can­did­ate’s group doesn’t represent at least 15 per­cent of the total, that candidate’s supporters must move to a dif­fer­ent can­did­ate. So on the Democratic side the winner may be determined by where the O’Malley voters (anywhere from 3-5%) move their support.  Once all groups have reached 15%+ the del­eg­ates can be awar­ded.

As with most elections, turn-out is key. Both “Bernie” [score]Bernard Sanders[/score] and Don­ald Trump are counting on ex­pand­ing their party’s elect­or­ate. Sanders is looking for the young. Trump is looking to draw people with no party affiliation (people can affiliate with their party on the day of the caucus).  A large GOP turnout is good for Trump, and on the Democratic side is good for Sanders (although it’s doubtful the Democratic turnout will come close to the record-breaking 2008 turnout. That was the year Obama surprised Hillary).

Supposedly [score]Ted Cruz[/score] has the best GOP organization in Iowa, but the word is that Trump may have a better organization than people think

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