Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Iowa Caucus* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)

Tonight, the presidential candidates, media talking-heads, and Iowa voters will gather for the first-in-the-nation Caucus. Iowa holds the first caucus of the election cycle and is one of the most significant.  So, what exactly is a caucus?

A caucus is an event that helps to determine which presidential candidate will win the nomination from each party. In Iowa, voters from more than 1,600 precincts elect delegates to represent their candidates at county conventions.

The Republican caucus and Democratic caucus have different processes. Essentially, voters at the Republican caucus listen to speeches by representatives of each campaign and cast their votes on paper.

The Democratic process is more complicated. Within each precinct, supporters of each candidate gather at various locations and are counted. If a candidate cannot get 15 percent of voters in his or her precinct, that candidate is let go from the caucus, and his or her supporters can align with another candidate. The number of delegates assigned to each precinct is determined by voter turnout in that precinct during the past two elections.

In addition to selecting a candidate, caucus-goers can submit resolutions that help to determine the state party’s platform. Every Child Matters will “Caucus for Kids” because the well-being of children is a priority for us—and for 77% of Iowa voters. With 1 in 6 Iowa children living in poverty, residents of Iowa have the opportunity to raise awareness at the caucus about the challenges facing Iowa kids. Visit caucusforkids.org for more information and join the conversation at #CaucusForKids on Twitter and Facebook.