Iowa Caucus: This is how absurd the first vote in the US election campaign is

1, 2 or 3 – whether you are really correct… Voters in Iowa will probably only see this after November 5, 2024, when the new (or old) US president is elected. “Standing correctly” is to be taken literally in this case. Because the Iowa Caucus, at least for the Democrats, runs differently than other primaries.

Table of contents

We’ll start with a confusing fact: A caucus is not a primary. Both are a kind of vote to choose the US presidential candidate. The phase in which the parties choose their candidate officially begins on Monday. This is taking place in, of all places, a less than representative state: the tranquil and predominantly white Iowa.

Why is the Iowa Caucus important?

Iowa is the start of the US election campaign before the Republicans officially elect their presidential candidate at their party conference in July. Whoever wins this first decision hopes to have an advantage in the coming votes. That costs money: Of the $258 million that Republicans have spent on television advertising so far this election campaign, $100 million has flowed to Iowa. This is reported by the radio station “NPR”.

The statistics only partially justify the considerable costs. Only three later presidents – Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush and Barack Obama – were able to win their party’s Iowa caucus. Incumbent President Joe Biden came fourth there in 2020.

Who is running in Iowa?

The Republicans currently have five candidates to choose from: former President Donald Trump, who is well ahead in the polls, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley. Also the entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and the former governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson. However, according to current surveys, the latter two are unlikely to have any significant chances.

In the Democratic Party, things are clearer. Since Joe Biden, an incumbent president, has declared his candidacy, the party is likely to rally behind him. In addition to Biden, author Marianne Williamson and Dean Phillips have submitted applications. Phillips is a representative from Minnesota. Both are considered to have almost no chance.

How does voting work?

The Joe Biden electorate please move to the left, for Marianne Williamson to the right, Dean Phillips enthusiasts please take a position on the stage! In this case, the location information is chosen arbitrarily. But this example actually illustrates how the Iowa caucus works in contrast to other primaries.

In a simple primary election, voting is done using a ballot paper or mail, counted and the winner is announced. During a caucus, party members gather in schools, gymnasiums or other public places. A representative is then appointed for each candidate who praises the person in a short speech. Those present then vote.

Until 2020, Democrats actually physically gathered in a corner of the room, as in the initial example. People often voted with their feet, with shouts or with cards – until the majority was clear.

Because there were massive delays in the last vote due to a software error, the Democrats’ vote will be different this year. Party members gather to discuss, but then vote by letter. The results will be announced on March 5, known as “Super Tuesday,” when 16 states and territories vote for candidates.

Why so complicated?

What sounds like a relic from the 18th century has actually only been around since the 1960s, reports Axios, among others. During the Vietnam War, many people in Iowa felt they had little say in political issues. This type of voting should bring the population together and encourage them to exchange ideas with their candidates.

Because the change required new documents in Iowa’s more than 1,600 electoral districts, the vote was brought forward so that the election was over by June at the latest and the parties could choose their candidate. The Democratic Party held the first caucus in Iowa in 1972, and the Republicans followed suit in 1976 and held their caucus on the same day.

Who has the best chance of becoming the Republican presidential candidate?

Donald Trump. The total of six court cases do not seem to be changing anything at the moment. According to the opinion research portal “FiveThirtyEight”, around 52 percent of Republicans in Iowa are behind Trump. Behind him, far behind, are Nikki Haley with 17 percent and Ron DeSantis with just under 16 percent. In the national polls, Trump even leads by around 60 percent.

Things would get exciting again if the former president were removed from the ballot in some states. Courts in Colorado and Maine decided this way because Trump was accused of conspiracy in a case. The case is currently before the Supreme Court. (You can read more about the court proceedings here.

Sources: “NPR”, Axios, FiveThirtyEight