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2012 Iowa caucus voter guide
How the Iowa caucuses work
- Interactive: Find out how the caucus process works for Republicans and Democrats.
- Republican caucus locations
- Democratic caucus locations
- Past years’ results
- County GOP results database
- David Yepsen: Ghosts of caucuses past haunt today’s campaigns
View the voter guide that ran in the Jan. 1, 2012, Des Moines Sunday Register
How Iowa Caucus Works | 2012 Iowa Caucus
The Iowa presidential caucuses are local party precinct meetings where registered Republicans and Democrats gather, discuss the candidates and vote for by party preference to elect delegates to the 99 county conventions and choose their candidate for their party’s nomination.
The purpose of the caucus vote is to select delegates to attend a county convention. Each caucus sends a certain number of delegates, based on the population it represents. The delegates at the county convention in turn select delegates to go to the congressional district state convention, and those delegates choose the delegates that go to the national convention.
Presidential preference on the Republican side is done with a straw vote of those attending the caucus. This vote is sometimes done by a show of hands or by dividing themselves into groups according to candidate. In precincts that elect only 1 delegate they choose the delegate by majority vote and it must be a paper ballot.
The Democrats have a more complex system. In a typical caucus, registered democrats gather at the precinct meeting places (there are close to 2,000 precincts statewide), supporters for each candidate have a chance to make their case, and then the participants gather into groups supporting particular candidates (undecided voters also cluster into a group). In order for a particular group to be viable, they must have a certain percentage of the all the caucus participants. If they don’t have enough people, the group disbands, and its members go to another group. The percentage cut-off is determined by the number of delegates assigned to the precinct.
Republican Party process
For the Republicans, the Iowa caucuses follow (and should not be confused with) the Ames Straw Poll in August of the preceding year. Out of the five Ames Straw Poll iterations, the winner of the Ames Straw Poll failed to win the Iowa caucuses twice, in 1987 and 2007.
In the Republican caucuses, each voter officially casts his or her vote by secret ballot. Voters are presented blank sheets of paper with no candidate names on them. After listening to some campaigning for each candidate by caucus participants, they write their choices down and the Republican Party of Iowa tabulates the results at each precinct and transmits them to the media. In 2008, some precincts used a show of hands  or preprinted ballots. The non-binding results are tabulated and reported to the state party, which releases the results to the media. Delegates from the precinct caucuses go on to the county conventions, which choose delegates to the district conventions, which in turn selects delegates to the Iowa State Convention. Thus, it is the Republican Iowa State Convention, not the precinct caucuses, which selects the ultimate delegates from Iowa to the Republican National Convention. All delegates are officially unbound from the results of the precinct caucus, although media organizations either estimate delegate numbers by estimating county convention results or simply divide them proportionally.
via Iowa caucuses
Iowa Caucus Resources:
- Iowa Secretary of State
- For Iowa Caucus results and other important updates, text “IOWA” to 91919
- Hashtag guide for the 2012 election
- Iowa Caucus Location Information – Iowa Republican Party: 515-282-8105 or http://iowagop.org