What you need to know to make sense of the Iowa Caucus result
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It's all over the news the 'Iowa Caucus', the first event in the USA's election process. For us over the big pond in the UK it can all get a little confusing. Americans like to see themselves as “leaders of the free world” and they expect all of us loyal subjects to be interested and well versed in their politics. I highly doubt the average American knows who David Cameron is, let alone our scruffy opposition grandad Jeremy Corbyn. But we shouldn’t benchmark ourselves on the average American, we can surely do better. So being the lovely human that I am, I have decide to unfold my brain to try and wrap it around the whole befuddling game of caucuses, primaries, delegates, super-delegates and national conventions. You’re probably wondering what any of those words mean. Here's what you need to know about the Caucus: The Iowa Caucus, is essentially where voters can further their favoured candidate’s hopes in clinching the party nomination. This whole process culminates at the national conventions for each party where the presidential nominee is selected. It is a fascinating and long winded process that dominates the media all over the world. What actually is a Caucus, more importantly who and what is this super-delegate, what kind of powers are we talking about? Caucuses and primaries are the ways in which a party nominates its candidate for the presidential election. Each state has a certain number of delegates that represent them at the party’s national convention (Democrats and Republicans). The caucuses and primaries are where candidates can snag a number of delegates for themselves. The more delegates you can get, the more likely you will be the candidate nominated to represent your party in the presidential election. So they’re the same thing? What about those super guys? Not exactly. Caucuses have been the method of selecting presidential candidates since the 1800’s. They were attended by the elites in society who decided how the country was run. The primary elections system emerged in the early 20th century as a reaction against the total control of elections by the party elites. They incorporated the process of secret ballots and were more open to everyday citizens who wanted to make their voices heard in the political landscape. Some states hold either primaries or caucuses while some do both. There are open primaries and caucuses where anyone can cast their vote and closed ones where only registered party members can vote. The voting methods also differ in most cases along party lines and also state lines. Democratic caucuses are a bit like a game of “Hungry Hungry Hippos” (I know it’s a stretched analogy) where voters are gobbled up like marbles by whichever candidate is most appealing to them in a labelled corner of the room. Candidates with less than 15% of the votes are deemed not viable and their voters can either join a different candidate or go home and sulk. The process is repeated until only viable candidates are left. Republicans on the other hand use a secret ballot like in a normal election. Basically voters pick their favoured candidates, these votes are then used to calculate how many delegates a candidate will take to the national convention. At the national convention the candidate with the most delegates wins the nomination. Who won? Please do not show your working this time. So far all we have had is the Iowa Caucus which took place on the 1st February. Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were virtually tied at 50% of the vote each in the Democratic caucus. Although Hilary Clinton clinched the victory with 49.8% to Sanders’s 49.6%.
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