In politics 19 days can be an eternity.
In 19 days before my fellow Iowans caucus in local churches, schools, fire houses, and even homes the Republican field will have two more debates, we’ll be exposed countless radio and TV ads, and who knows how many trees have been sacrificed to send us mailers that most of us don’t want.
The Iowa Caucuses, unlike a primary where you can vote all day, are party-organized meetings.
In 2016 both Iowa Republicans and Democrats will meet for our precinct caucus at 7:00 pm on February 1 at the location determined by the county party. This has a community feel, as you see friends and neighbors and people generally arrive early so there is time to chat. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss candidates, issues, and elect precinct representation to our county party’s leadership, as well as, decide who we’ll send to the county convention.
During presidential election years the first order of business is the presidential preference poll.
Republicans decide this by secret ballot, but before we vote all candidates can have a representative speak on their behalf. Having a speaker who can clearly and energetically articulate support for a candidate is crucial as there are people who show up to caucus undecided. They want to hear what their friends and neighbors have to say. There are also those who can come in and change their minds. Well-organized campaigns have this covered, campaigns that are not well-organized don’t.
Also the design and purpose of the caucus means it is the grassroots, not just casual voters, of a party that participates. All of this makes the Iowa Caucuses very difficult to predict.