Saturday, December 31, 2011

What's a Caucus Anyway?

2008 Iowa Caucus (linked to source: Iowa Caucus)

A primary election looks and feels a lot like a general election for the most part, except that in some states they only let you exclusively vote for a party you are already registered with. You show up, you cast your ballot in a private booth, you leave. Simple enough.
A caucus does not operate the same way. First of all, if you are in an Iowa caucus, there may be a lot of C-SPAN and national news cameras watching your every move. It isn't quite as private as voting booth. Second, a caucus is a big group meeting. The political party members come together (it is open only to registered voters who are registered to a specific party), and have a group meeting. They say the Pledge of Allegiance, sometimes even open with a prayer by a local evangelical, conduct a few minutes of business, the campaigns are given a few minutes to make their final pleas, and then they open things up to a vote. Everyone will write a name down on a piece of paper and pass it in. A caucus official will count the votes with a representative from each campaign intently watching over his or her shoulder. The votes are counted and recorded on an official form. The results are announced to the waiting group and media cameras. The official numbers are sent to the state party along with an officially designated human being for security purposes. The numbers are aggregated from around the state, and an official report is made to the media.

A few interesting facts about the Iowa Caucus-
Anyone who will be of legal voting age in November for the general elections, is allowed to vote in the caucus. So there will be 17 yr olds voting in the caucus on Tuesday. (High school juniors!)
There are 1,774 caucus locations across the state. There are 99 counties in the state.
Only candidate Rick Santorum has stumped in all 99 counties!
Voting will begin at 7 p.m. all across the state (Central time).
3,062,309 people in Iowa.
3,850,000 cows in Iowa
That's 1.26 cows per person, or .8 people per cow. Either way, a lot of hamburgers.
569,633 live in the greater Des Moines area (people, not cows, but then again, probably cows too)
613,521 "active" registered Republicans (6.3 cows)
A Iowan Angus cow costs $1000 (you think I'm making that up, don't you? I'm not. See?)

There are 6 Chik-Fil-A restaurants in Iowa.

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