Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Uncategorized

Let Us Explain How the Hell Iowa Caucuses Actually Work

DES MOINES — The Iowa caucuses are finally here! Now how the hell do they work, again? And why do they matter? Monday night marks the official start of the 2020 campaign. The caucuses often help surging candidates make their mark on the race, and show weak front-runners for what they are. Here’s how they…

Let Us Explain How the Hell Iowa Caucuses Actually Work

DES MOINES — The Iowa caucuses are finally here! Now how the hell do they work, again? And why do they matter?

Monday night marks the official start of the 2020 campaign. The caucuses often help surging candidates make their mark on the race, and show weak front-runners for what they are. Here’s how they work — and who has the most to gain and lose by their results.

How do the caucuses work?

Let’s start with the basics: They’re not a primary. In normal primaries, people show up, vote and leave, and whoever gets the most votes wins. The fun and frustration of caucuses in general, and Iowa’s in particular, are that it’s much more of a Rube Goldberg election system.

The tl;dr version is that caucusgoers show up at their local site, whether it’s a high school gym, church basement, or local VFW hall. Candidates’ precinct captains will make little speeches about why their dude is so great. Then the caucusgoers will physically group up by the candidate they support. A raw count will be done of the vote. Then the people who back the candidates who didn’t hit the viability threshold to win delegates (in most cases 15% support) get a chance to revote for their second candidate. That round is what actually counts toward who gets delegates — those numbers are put through a complicated formula to determine state-level delegates.

READ: Biden is in trouble with moderates — and it could kill his campaign

This year’s particularly weird: The Iowa Democratic Party decided, in a move towards transparency, it will release all three numbers on caucus night, as well as a final number of how many delegates each candidate won.

What they’re releasing:

  1. The raw vote total for each candidate (basically how people actually voted)
  2. The reapportioned vote total once those backing the candidates who don’t hit the 15% viability threshold revote for their second choice (what actually counts to get delegates)
  3. State delegate equivalents (what their byzantine formula spits out as how many delegates each candidate gets at the state convention)
  4. (Later in the night) the estimates of how many of the 49 Iowa delegates each candidate won

The traditional measure (and the one the Associated Press and most big news organizations are going to use) is the third number — state delegate equivalents. But the raw vote will also be interesting to watch — and could confuse exactly who won on caucus night, especially if the race is close and different candidates lead by different measures.

When will we know anything?

The caucuses themselves start at 7 p.m. local time, 8 p.m. EST. The smaller precincts, many of them in rural areas, should start reporting results within the hour or so after that. The larger precincts — especially the biggest sites around Des Moines and Iowa City — could take another hour.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

READ: Bernie might win Iowa — and the Democratic Establishment Is in Freak-Out Mode

The state Democratic Party will be reporting out results on a rolling basis as precincts submit their numbers. They’re doing it by waiting until each precinct is finalized and then posting the three numbers they’re releasing for each site, and then will do the full release when it’s all in.

Assuming no major snafus, we should have a pretty good sense of where things are heading between 8:30pm and 9:30pm local time.

Page 1 of 2
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright © 2020 Tribune Media LLC