We’ve heard the speeches, watched the debates, read the polls. Today, the Iowa caucuses take place and the first votes in the 2016 U.S. presidential election are finally cast.
Tonight’s exercise in democracy is not tidy, requiring detailed explanation for even the savviest political junkie. But it is the start of a process to determine who will represent the Democrats and Republicans in the race to be President of the United States.
The polls show the race in Iowa tightening. But it’s not just about who finishes first. Exceeding expectations can be just as important, creating momentum for next week’s primary contest in New Hampshire.
The Iowa Caucuses, Explained
Andrew Prokop – Vox
The Iowa caucuses are the first time actual voters all across any U.S. state get up and go say who they want to be president.
And these voters do literally have to “get up and go” — to an in-person event, held at a specific time in the evening, at one of 1,681 precincts across the state. …
Every winner of a competitive major party presidential nomination contest since 1980 except one started off by winning the Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire primary, or both. …
10 Questions That Will be Answered by Iowa Caucuses
Jennifer Jacobs – Des Moines Register
1. Will Trump crush his competition, or will he lose to Cruz and risk being branded a loser? Will Clinton feel the Bern from Iowa again, or is the Sanders phenomena just sound and fury?
2. Will the celebrity-centric television coverage of this race trump the traditional fundamentals of an on-the-ground organizational advantage?
When Norman Rockwell Meets Reality: Why Many Iowans Don’t Caucus
Ruth Marcus – The Washington Post
The theory is Norman Rockwell heartwarming: neighbors gathered in a communal enterprise of representative democracy. The reality is jarring….
The unforgiving demands of the caucus system serve to intensify the voice of the parties’ most committed, and therefore likely most extreme, voters, as others are deterred by the seemingly arcane and time-consuming process.
Meanwhile, caucuses disenfranchise nurses, firefighters and others working the night shift, although both parties took steps this year to offer some opportunity for members of the armed forces to participate.
Iowa Caucuses: Why Your Vote Matters
Paul Pate – The Gazette (Cedar Rapids)
The eyes of the world will focus on Iowa on Monday, and I hope every resident of this great state takes advantage of the opportunity.
Our first-in-the-nation caucus status is something every Iowan should relish. We play a major role in deciding who will be, and who won’t be, the next president of the United States. It is an awesome responsibility and one that many Iowans take seriously. We all should feel that way.
Unfortunately, participation in the Iowa caucuses is usually low. Even if turnout this year reaches 150,000 for each party, that still represents around one-fourth of the registered Republicans or Democrats in the state. We can do better.
Iowa Caucuses: What to Watch for Monday Night
Carl M. Cannon – Real Clear Politics
Will Outsiders Sweep the Day? Suppose Trump and Cruz finish one-two on the Republican side, and Sanders rides his populist “Bernie-mentum” to victory. That would mean that the three angriest-sounding candidates—all of them political interlopers of a sort—will have turned both party establishments on their head. Can a non-establishment candidate use Iowa to propel their insurgent candidacy all the way to the White House?
Has this happened before? Yes, 40 years ago. “The people of this country,” Jimmy Carter said then, “want a fresh face, not one associated with a long series of mistakes made at the White House and on Capitol Hill.”