What Is the Iowa Caucus and Why Does It Matter?
Not everyone can keep up with politics. Here is an easy guide to the ins and outs of the Iowa Caucus and what it means for the presidential race.
First of all, what is a "caucus"?
A caucus is simply a meeting where people from the same political party - Republican or Democrat - choose their presidential candidate.
For Republicans, the process is easy: They hear each candidate speak and cast a ballot for their favorite. For Democrats, it's more complicated: voters must go to a certain place based on what county they live in and divide into groups based on their initial favorite candidate. Candidates must receive a certain percent of the votes to be chosen as the favorite, but those votes are compared to the votes from other groups.
Why is Iowa's caucus so important?
Well, that's pretty easy. It's the first caucus to take place this election year. It gives all of the candidates an idea of what actual voting citizens are looking for.
Is there a reason it's Iowa? That seems like a random place.
Iowa is traditionally where caucuses start and their judgement tends to be accurate. In the history of caucuses, which have taken place in the U.S. since the 1800's, there hasn't been a single candidate who ranked less than third in Iowa that didn't go on to become president.
Last night, there was a tie between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders for the Democratic party. Ted Cruz won the Republican vote.
When is the Texas caucus?
Texas doesn't have a caucus! We have a primary.
Oh no, this is getting complicated.
Not to worry! The difference between a caucus and a primary is easy to remember. With a caucus, citizens actually go out to a meeting to cast their votes. In a primary, citizens cast votes on their own time, like a regular election. Texas is such a huge state that it would be virtually impossible to get a fair caucus together.
Okay, so when is the Texas primary?
It takes place on what is called "Super Tuesday," which falls on March 1st this year. It's called "Super Tuesday" because 15 states host their primaries or caucuses that day, which is more than any other day during election season.
Make sure you stay up-to-date on your candidates. If you need help deciding who to vote for, there's a great quiz that matches your political values with the best candidate.