AND THEY’RE OFF…
After months of talking about it and predicting the 2016 Presidential race starts for real tonight with the Iowa Caucuses. And Iowa takes their caucuses very seriously, just look at the banner headline from today’s Des Moines Register (above).
Toss out the polls, and throw out the conventional wisdom about what an Iowa win means. This is not a typical year.
A caucus is not the same as a primary, and in Iowa a caucus is not even the same for each party.
For the Republicans at each caucus, people from each campaign for each of the campaigns give a speech to the group, from there there is discussion (arguing?) and finally there is a secret ballot poll of everyone there and the results are reported to the state party via a Microsoft created app.
With the Democrats their process diverges from the GOP after the speeches. Instead of voting, supporters of candidates are split up into different sections of the room. Uncommitted caucus-goers have their own “group.” If a candidate’s group doesn’t represent at least 15 percent of the total, that candidate’s supporters must move to a different candidate. So on the Democratic side the winner may be determined by where the O’Malley voters (anywhere from 3-5%) move their support. Once all groups have reached 15%+ the delegates can be awarded.
As with most elections, turn-out is key. Both “Bernie” Bernard Sanders and Donald Trump are counting on expanding their party’s electorate. Sanders is looking for the young. Trump is looking to draw people with no party affiliation (people can affiliate with their party on the day of the caucus). A large GOP turnout is good for Trump, and on the Democratic side is good for Sanders (although it’s doubtful the Democratic turnout will come close to the record-breaking 2008 turnout. That was the year Obama surprised Hillary).
Supposedly Ted Cruz has the best GOP organization in Iowa, but the word is that Trump may have a better organization than people think…