With the Iowa Caucus coming up quickly on Monday, presidential candidates are scrambling to get themselves ahead in the polls. The caucus is the first in the series of Presidential Primaries and generally a good way of anticipating the outcome of the rest of the GOP nomination trial.
In the past, this caucus has done an excellent job of predicting not only who will win the republican nomination, but the democratic nomination as well. For example, in 2004 the Iowa Caucus had Secretary of State John F. Kerry as the front runner and he did, in fact, continue on to win the democratic nomination. This is also where the state gets a general idea of how many voters will turn out as well as how they are voting, which the state can then publicize to the media and allow for campaigns to gear their focus in certain areas.
It is important to know that a caucus is different than a primary election. While New Hampshire has a law that they must be the first to hold a primary election, Iowa is able to hold the first caucus. A caucus is a series of small gatherings that vote for a candidate as opposed to a primary where there is statewide secret voting. Local gatherings get together to demonstrate their support in a caucus as opposed to a primary election where the support is looked at on a statewide level and individuals are not encouraged to openly show support for a candidate.
Presidential candidates essentially ‘set up camp’ in Iowa before the caucus because of the historical importance associated with the event. Ever since 1976, when Jimmy Carter had a sweeping lead in Iowa because of dedicating a year to the grassroots campaign, candidates have paid close attention to this caucus and to the environmental issues that tend to dominate the outcome. Particular areas of the state now also have the opportunity to share their ideals with the candidates, consequently giving them a better understanding of the voters. If they hear more Iowa citizens expressing concern over a particular aspect then they will know what to address that to the majority.
As the dates of these caucus’ approach, every-day citizens get to voice their opinions to the candidates and interact in conversations with them as opposed to solely listening to their speeches. The caucus on Feb. 4 will help determine which candidates will be sent to the convention in Cleveland. Not only this caucus, but others will also help to predict the winner of the nomination, which is why they are important to pay attention to and participate in during the upcoming months.