AN IDIOT’S GUIDE TO THE IOWA CAUCUS
By Samuel Leighton-Dore
If you’ve logged onto social media in the last 24-hours and, like me, aren’t too crash-hot on your US political lingo, there’s a good chance you’re wondering what the hell a “caucus” is and why everyone suddenly seems to care about Iowa.
Aside from being a pretty sexy word to say aloud, the Iowa caucus is essentially the first real indication of whether or not a party candidate’s campaign is dying off or picking up steam. Simply put, it’s a case of Hillary Clinton VS Bernie Sanders and Donal Trump VS Rationality.
Or, in hashtag speak: do you #feelthebern or #standwithher?
As most Americans brace themselves for an exciting all-nighter of “caucus and chill” or tuck themselves into bed, the Southern Hemisphere Timezone has primed Aussies to watch the drama unfold live. And it’s already promising to be a tight fucking race.
But first, what is a caucus? Well, as far as I can gather (keeping in mind that my interest in U.S. politics is somewhat akin to that of an American Idol finals), it’s an electoral event in which Iowan residents meet in their respective precincts (there are 1,681 of them) and elect delegates who then align themselves with – and fight for – one particular party candidate.
It’s confusing stuff, which is why it’s perhaps best explained by this short video by Vermont Public Radio, which breaks the headache-inducing process down into super fun Lego pieces:
So why is one state considered to be so influential in a national campaign?
Honestly, kinda just because everyone thinks it is. Nearly every U.S. presidential candidate has become a firm party favourite off the back of the Iowa caucus. The media hype surrounding a caucus defeat can easily perpetuate wide-spread doubt and shift political allegiances. It’s how Obama pulled the rug out from beneath Hillary in 2008. Whether or not Bernie Sanders will find himself repeating history is yet to be clear.
More importantly (or scarily), it will today be revealed whether the media-heavy Trump campaign has done the groundwork to gain necessary traction moving forward.
So if watching Iowan counties turn different shades of blue and red is your thang, you can follow the results live right here.