Faithful reader Heidi writes in and asks:
I'm from Iowa and I was wondering how the caucus in my state works. I asked my dad but he got all flustered and told me to ask my mom. I don't think he understood my question. Maybe you can help.
Thanks for writing in Heidi! I'd be happy to give you a quick overview of how caucuses work.
How the democrats get their caucus on
They congregate in school gyms, churches and barns. Each candidate has a corner of the building and the supporters of each candidate stand in their respective corner. If their candidate gets more than 15% of the constituents in their corner, they proceed to the next round.
If you stood in the corner of a loser who doesn't get 15% (see photo above, left) your candidate is out and you get the chance to make your vote count by joining one of the winners.
So, really, you get to vote for two people: the person you secretly wanted in the White House but knew didn't have a chance, and then for the candidate who you knew would win so you can appease your conscious and still have bragging rights after the fact.
Sounds like something democrats would come up with.
Right after you leave the loser corner you can be lobbied again by representatives of the remaining candidates to come join the cool kids. But before they'll let you join, they may require you to undergo various hazing rituals, identify the calls of sixteen tropical birds, answer Jeopardy!-style questions or take the Physical Challenge.
This happens in each precinct. The total tally is kept hush-hush and only the percentage of delegates won by each candidate is released. So it all comes down to how many delegates each precinct has, not the popular vote.
How the Republicans roll
The Republicans put their vote on a ballot. The ballots are counted and the candidate with the most votes wins.
I hope that answered your question Heidi! For more details (and less sarcasm) see the original CNN article here.
Photo courtesty of here.