How the Iowa caucus works


FILE – In this Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020 file photo, from left, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.,and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg look to answer a question during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN and the Des Moines Register in Des Moines, Iowa. Multiple Democratic presidential hopefuls have talked about their faith on the campaign trail, weaving it into their approach to issues from immigration to climate change. Among the most vocal Democrats on that front is Buttigieg, who asserted his party’s connection to religion on Tuesday during its final primary debate before next month’s first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

CNN- There are nearly 17-hundred caucus sites across Iowa.

Iowa votes for party nominees, like few other places.

In Iowa, people who are eager to help pick the democratic nominee for president will gather at certain sites. Different areas will be designated for supporters of each candidate and the voters will physically walk to those areas to indicate their preference. This is the first vote.

Once everyone has settled, they are counted and each candidate’s percentage of the vote is calculated. The math will vary depending on the size of the caucus, but in larger ones, if any candidate gets less than 15% of the overall crowd, he or she is declared unviable and effectively knocked out of the running for that caucus, but the people who chose that candidate can still be in play because each caucus goer will receive a card.

On this card, they will list their first choice. If that candidate has pushed out, then those voters can flip the card over and make their second choice. This frequently comes amid a good deal of discussion with people and the other groups, because in the final vote, those people whose candidates are unviable can move their support to a viable candidate or they can combine with others like them to create another viable candidate.

If your candidate is viable from the start, meaning he or she has at least 15% of the overall vote, the voters who selected that candidate cannot change. They are stuck with their first choice.

After the final vote, everyone will be counted again. The cards will be collected to create a physical record of how many people stood for each candidate on each vote, and then through a series of mathematical calculations, all those people at all those caucuses all over the state will be turned into a delegate count. Some candidates will get more delegates than everyone else, and will likely declare him or herself the winner of the Iowa caucuses.

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