Election 101: How an Iowa GOP caucus works

Contrary to popular belief, the Iowa caucuses are not a part of the state populated by Georgians, Armenians, and Azerbaijanis. Sorry, bad pun. (See Caucasus, a region of Eurasia.) But there is some confusion about what the Iowa caucuses are, exactly. So in a few easy steps, let us explain what will happen in the Hawkeye State the evening of Jan. 3 – the first presidential nominating contest of the season.

1. What is a caucus?

Generally speaking, a caucus is a club or meeting of like-minded people. In the context of presidential politics, a caucus is a gathering of Republicans or Democrats for the purpose of stating a preference for their party’s presidential nomination. In Iowa, a caucus is held in each precinct, which means 1,774 meetings around the state. Republicans and Democrats caucus differently. Because the Republican caucuses are highly competitive this time around, while the Democratic ones aren’t – we predict President Obama will win – we’ll discuss just the Republicans.

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