Elizabeth Beckmann ’18
On February first, the state of Iowa took part in the first presidential caucus of 2016.
As you all know, the presidential race has been heating up in both the Republican and Democratic parties. All of the candidates have been holding many meetings and rallies throughout the country in order to gain supporters.
The process of deciding which presidential candidate will be the nominee for each party is most commonly through the process of caucusing. If you’re wondering what a caucus is, the dictionary defines it as a meeting of the members of a legislative body who are members of a particular political party, to select candidates or decide policy.
The way voting takes places varies from state to state. In some states, they don’t even call the process caucusing. In some states they refer to it as a ‘primary’ which is very similar but a bit more formal.
The way a caucus works can be very confusing to even a politician, but once you have a general understanding of the concept, it’s very interesting!
On caucus night in Iowa, voters went to various precincts throughout the state. Once they arrived, the voters divided into separate rooms based on their political party.
Once in those rooms, the voters heard last minutes speeches from the candidates vying to win their support. After all the candidates had made their cases to the people, the voting began.
For Republicans, caucusing is a very secret process. Voters don’t know who the person next to them is voting for and vice versa. Each person will write the name of the Republican candidate who they want to be the party’s nominee on a slip of paper and turn them in.
However, for Democrats the process is a bit different. Democrats are very open with each other and everyone knows who is voting for who.
The voters will then separate into groups based on who they want to be the Democratic presidential nominee. Whichever candidate within the party who has the most supporters, wins the majority of the vote.
The results of the Iowa caucus were very surprising for both parties. There were around 180,000 people who voted on caucus night!
For Republicans, the candidate that came out on top was Texas State Sen. Ted Cruz, followed by businessman Donald Trump, and in third was Florida State Sen. Marco Rubio.
As you could imagine, GOP front runner Donald Trump was not happy with these results. After the caucus, Trump went on to say “Ted Cruz didn’t win Iowa; he stole it. That is why all of the polls were wrong and why he got far more votes than anticipated. Bad!”
This sparked a lot of controversy between Trump and Cruz. Trump believes that the votes should be nullified or that a new election should take place.
In the Democratic party, the winner was former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton followed very closely by Vermont State Sen. Bernie Sanders. The margin was so slim between these two candidates that in six precincts across the state of Iowa the winner was decided by a coin toss. In last place was candidate Martin O’Malley with only 0.6% of the vote.
During Clinton’s speech after the caucus, she thanked Iowa and said she was “breathing a big sigh of relief.” However, many Democrats believe that Clinton didn’t really win and that the results were too close to identify a definite winner.
The percentage of votes each candidate received from the caucus will determine the amount of delegates each candidate will receive support from at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions in July. So, Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton will receive the most delegates out of their specific party.
On February 20th, South Carolina will vote in a Republican Presidential Primary so keep your eyes out for the results!