Election 101: How an Iowa GOP caucus works

Confused about what the Iowa caucuses are, exactly? Here is a step-by-step explanation about what will happen in Iowa on the evening of Jan. 3 – the first presidential nominating contest of the 2012 season.

5. Who is expected to attend?

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    Rep. Michelle Bachmann greets diners in Sioux Lake, Iowa on Friday.
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Four years ago, a record 120,000 Iowans took part in the Republican caucuses. This time, with no competition in the Democratic caucuses, organizers expect even higher Republican turnout than in 2008. Democrats and independents are allowed to take part by registering as Republicans at the door, and showing proof of age and Iowa residence. Any Iowan who will turn 18 by Election Day 2012, Nov. 6, may participate.

The typical Iowa GOP caucus-goer is more educated and better off financially than the public as a whole, according to polls. More than 40 percent call themselves born-again Christian, a little higher than the national figure. More than half are male, and most are white. The median age is early 50s.

The forecast for Jan. 3 is for good weather – partly cloudy, high of 41 degrees F. – which could point to good turnout.

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