Iowa Info! Links on HOW the Iowa Caucus system actually works!

As we anxiously await the results from the Iowa Caucuses, I’m sharing some links! These links are some that I used for research and info about the system in Iowa (the Caucus system):

This isn’t a primary. It’s a non-binding straw poll of those who show up for the precinct meetings. It’s more representative of grassroots opinion than the Ames straw poll, because people don’t have to be bussed in or pay a significant fee to vote. For the Iowa caucus straw poll, Republicans will vote near their homes, all over the state, for free. Turnout will be higher than Ames by an order of magnitude — about 17,000 votes were cast at Ames, about 120,000 were cast on caucus night four years ago. Media interest in the outcome is reasonable, especially with no previous hard numbers from any state to indicate candidate strength, but media attempts to estimate delegate count based on Tuesday’s GOP result are baloney. The true count of bound delegates on Wednesday morning will be goose-eggs across the board.

True that, Michael Bates!

Business Insider on how the system works: 

Caucusing isn’t exactly like voting.  It can take hours. And the process  rewards candidates who can organize volunteers, and those who attract older voters who like to socialize at these events.

So here’s how it works.

Tonight at 7 pm Central Time,  about 130,000 Republicans will gather into different 1,774 precincts across Iowa. A precinct  could be in someone’s living room, a school, or in a town hall.

Usually there is chatting about how the process works and who people plan to vote for. Crucially, voters have lots of time to look at the pins and signs other people are carrying and take a guess at who is leading in their caucus room before anyone votes.

That means participants have a chance at switching their vote to block someone from winning. If it looks like Mitt Romney will win a room before the vote starts, Perry and Bachman supporters can throw their weight behind Rick Santorum to try and stop him. That is why Iowa results have a strong chance of not-aligning with the polls.

First the caucus selects a chairman and a secretary to organize the rest of the proceedings. The participants then elect representatives to attend a county convention late this month which will actually select the delegates.  There are 99 counties in Iowa, thus 99 conventions. Those meetings select people to attend the State Convention. And in turn, the State Convention held late in the year actually selects the delegates who will represent Iowa in Tampa at next summer’s Republican National Convention. They will select delegates based on the proportion of tonight’s vote.

After the county-conventions business is concluded there may be some discussion about the party’s platform – like toughening up a pro-life plank, or adding one about the judiciary and same-sex marriage. Sometimes the precinct will move right to the nominating process.

There will be time for a representative of each candidate to make a speech to everyone at the precinct. Sometimes campaigns appoint people to be their “precinct captains” – and try to prepare them with a persuasive final speech. All reports indicate that tonight Ron Paul has the most volunteers and the best prepared ones.

Then votes are done by secret ballot. Some precincts will use blank sheets and people will write down their favorite candidate, others have pre-printed ballots. And it is one man, one vote. Once the votes are tabulated, the results are called into Des Moines, Iowa where the state party officials are headquartered tonight.

Democratic caucuses tend to be more exciting because if a candidate fails to achieve a certain threshold of voters, they have to switch their support to another candidate. This can create quick alliances. It explained why Barack Obama surged ahead of Hillary Clinton in Iowa four years ago even though some polls had her leading in the state by 9 points the day before the Caucus.

Buckle up – it can get bumpy from here on out.

Buzzfeed on Ron Paul’s plan to win:

Ron Paul — poised to finish strong in the Iowa caucuses – has begun to implement a quiet, complex plan to force a long battle with Mitt Romney for delegates to the Republican National Convention in August. His advantages: Experience, organization, and the legacy of the 2010 Tea Party revival, which convinced Republicans that anti-government figures like Paul just aren’t as weird as they’d thought.
Paul is following the roadmap set by Barack Obama’s 2008 strategy: Start early, learn the rules, and use superior organization and devoted young supporters to dominate the arcane but crucial party procedures in states your rivals are ignoring — states where caucuses and conventions that elect the delegates who will ultimately choose the Republican candidate. The plan begins in places like Minnetonka, Minnesota, a Minneapolis suburb where Paul has based his state headquarters, and where staffers have already begun running “mock-auses” — practice runs for Minnesota’s February 7 caucuses.

Those states together will award 419 of the 2,286 delegates who will choose a nominee in Tampa in August. They operate under complex, individual rules that favor the prepared. In Idaho, for instance, voters will gather in 44 county caucuses, each of which delivers a vote weighted by its size. Those caucuses will conduct run-offs until there are only two candidates left, and if any candidate gets over 60% in a caucus, he gets 100% of its vote. Any candidate winning more than 50% of the state’s weighted vote wins all 32 of Idaho’s delegates — more than will be awarded to all the candidates in Iowa combined.

Of course, Smitty calls this arcane:

This is really an argument against “Arcane Rules”. We all love to hate on professional politicians, but it is truly a full-time job just to understand the basics of how the sausage is made. Complexity favors the insiders. We love to hate the IRS, but no one is really talking about killing the 16th Amendment or offering a tax code other than one putting the ‘b’ in Byzantine.

The two things we have to do, going down the road, are: involve more people, and stamp out complexity. Systems need to be as simple as possible, but no simpler.

Yeah, it is a bit arcane, but SOME of us DO want to see the 16th Amendment repealed…

Also, Stacy, PLEASE don’t say that Romney is a shoe-in…


Tonight’s results? We may see someone drop out! 

Six candidates are going to press on. But one is out for sure.

Mitt Romney will finish in the top three. He has the most money, and leads polls in Iowa and nationally. He survives.

Ron Paul will finish in the top three in Iowa- he has a lot of cash on hand and a good organization in New Hampshire. He’d have a reason to fight on  even if he underperforms because his candidacy is also a protest.

Rick Santorum will vastly outperform what was expected of his campaign even two weeks ago. He has no money, but he’s not going to bow out the moment he takes center stage.

Rick Perry has too much money to quit. Unless he finished in last place, expect him to make a perfunctory stop in New Hampshire before camping out in South Carolina and hoping that an anti-Mormon surge powers him back into the discussion.

Jon Huntsman is likely to get 1 percent or less tonight. But he wasn’t competing in Iowa. If he doesn’t finish in the top two in New Hampshire, he’ll drop out next week.

Newt Gingrich has already resolved to press on even while taking a bad loss tonight. He’ll try to do the same thing Perry does – hope Romney makes a dramatic mistake or runs into a wall of anti-Mormonism in the South.

But Michelle Bachmann will almost certainly drop out before New Hampshire. She won the Iowa Straw Poll in the summer and hasn’t stopped dropping since.  Her staff has been abandoning her for Ron Paul. She has been desperately trying to claim that Ron Paul wants to “wipe Israel off the face of the earth.” The end is near.

CBS agrees, it’s between the three, Santorum, Romney, and Ron Paul.

Who has the popcorn?

My last bit, Rick Santorum‘s nephew recently wrote a piece about his uncle. I think we can win without this. Christmas’s in their family just got much more awkward…

It does read well though!

If you want another big-government politician who supports the status quo to run our country, you should vote for my uncle, Rick Santorum. America is based on a strong belief in individual liberty. My uncle’s interventionist policies, both domestic and foreign, stem from his irrational fear of freedom not working.


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