TRAFFIC ALERT:

CONSTRUCTION I-95 SB off-ramp to Philips closed 

ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day Created with Sketch.
61°
Broken Clouds
H 76° L 62°
  • cloudy-day Created with Sketch.
    61°
    Current Conditions
    Partly Cloudy. H 76° L 62°
  • cloudy-day Created with Sketch.
    78°
    Afternoon
    Partly Cloudy. H 76° L 62°
  • clear-day Created with Sketch.
    75°
    Evening
    Sunny. H 80° L 62°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

What is a caucus and why does Iowa have one?

With the latest poll released only hours before Iowans head to their caucuses to cast the first votes of the 2016 election season, Donald Trump is hanging on to his lead over Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a man whom Trump called a “liar” this weekend.

What to watch at tonight’s Iowa caucus

The poll conducted by Quinnipiac University asked those who will caucus for the first time who they would be supporting and found 31 percent said they would vote for Trump with 24 percent supporting Cruz.  Florida Sen. Marco Rubio gained ground over the weekend, with 17 percent of those polled saying they would vote for him.

When pollsters asked veteran caucuses goers whom they would support, 25 percent said they would caucus for Cruz, with 24 percent saying they would support Trump.

The numbers can change quickly, of course – 28 percent of the people polled who named a candidate they would support also said  they might still change their mind by Monday night.

So what will happen Monday when Iowans head to their caucuses? Here’s a look at what a caucus is, how its conducted, and how what happens after the votes are counted.

>>Read more trending stories

What is an Iowa caucus?

In Iowa, voters gather together in one of 1,681 precincts around the state to decide whom they want to support for their party’s nomination. Caucuses differ from the primaries most states hold. Caucuses are designed to choose electoral delegates in the state.

When are the caucuses held?

The  caucuses begin on Monday, Feb. 1, at 7 p.m. (CT). They go until they are finished, there is no set end time.

We seem to hear about the  Iowa caucuses a lot. Why?

The caucuses are the first indication of how the candidates for president are being received – at least how they are being received in Iowa.

How does it work?

The process works differently for Republicans and Democrats. First, let’s look at the Republicans, their process is not as complicated as the Democrats.

To participate in both caucuses, you must:

  • be registered to vote and be a registered member of that party
  • have turned 18, the legal voting age, by the time of the general election on Nov. 8, 2016
  • live in the precinct you are caucusing in

If you are a Republican, here’s how your voting process will go:

You will go to one of 1,784 precincts in the state. Once there, the precinct meeting is called to order and the precinct  chairman/woman will invite anyone who wishes to speak about  the candidate of their choice. After the speeches of support are done, each eligible voter will be given a piece of paper to write or make a check by the name of the candidate of their choice. The ballots are secret.

Once the choices are made, the slips of paper are counted and announced to those present. Those results go to the county Republican leadership which sends them to the state leadership to tabulate the state totals. The state totals are supposed to be reflected by the Republican delegates in the national convention this summer.

>>Read more trending stories

If you are a Democrat, it’s a bit more complicated:

For Democrats, each precinct has a set number of county convention delegates – the people chosen to cast votes at the county level for candidates in the Democratic race. The number of delegates each county gets is determined by the number of people who voted in the past two general elections – the elections where you vote for governors and presidents.

That number is then converted into a “state delegate equivalent,” or a ratio of the number of state delegates to the number of county convention delegates. All that happens before anyone shows up to caucus.

On Monday, when they arrive at the caucus place, voters will divide into groups based on their preference  for candidates. The precinct chair  will them determine if the group for a particular candidate is “viable,” meaning they have the support of at least 15 percent of the people in attendance.

If a candidate does not get the votes needed to be “viable” then that candidate’s supporters have a couple of options. They can try to sway caucus goers supporting another candidate to come join them, they can join another candidate’s group, or they can choose to remain uncommitted.

After the groups are settled and the vote taken, each candidate will receive a proportional number of the county convention delegates and, by extension, the state delegate equivalents.  

Another difference in the Democrat process is that while you have to be a registered Democrat, it is possible to register as a Democrat on the caucus night itself.

This system is an old one, is there anything new about this year?

A new digital app will be reporting the 2016 precinct votes for both the Republican and Democratic parties. The app came about as a result of a collaboration between Microsoft and  both parties in Iowa.

How many Iowans will show up to  caucuses?

It’s estimated that up to 120,000 Republicans will show up, and if 2008 is an indicator, twice that  number for Democrats. However, a winter storm will be moving into the  area and is likely to cause snow over the central and northern Plains on Monday night and into Tuesday, according to Accuweather.   

Why do they make their decision so early?

Tradition, and, probably, a little bit of celebrity. The  date for the caucus was chosen back in 1972. Since then, Iowans have become used to being the first to express a preference for who will be president, and they seem to like being the center of attention on the decision.

Plus, it’s the law. The state legislature passed a bill saying the caucuses must occur before any other state’s primary by at least eight days.

How well do the caucuses predict the candidate who wins?

The Iowa caucuses are really just the beginning of the 2016 voting process. The caucuses don’t really carry more weight than the primaries to come in other states, they are simply the first in a process that ends with a nomination.

Former President Bill Clinton, husband of current Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, lost in the Iowa caucuses when he first ran for president, and lost big time. He was beaten by Sen. Tom Harkin. Harkin got nearly 75 percent of the delegates, while Clinton got around 3 percent. Clinton went on to win primaries in other states and eventually the Democratic nomination and then the presidency. 

Read More
VIEW COMMENTS

There are no comments yet. Be the first to post your thoughts. or Register.

The Latest News Headlines

  • For the second time in less than 24 hours, police have swarmed the Las Vegas Strip after at least one person was killed in a shooting near the Cosmopolitan hotel and casino. >> Related: Burglary at Bellagio Hotel and Casino prompts lockdown on Vegas strip Police said Saturday afternoon that the situation was not an active shooter situation.  The suspect peacefully surrendered around 6 p.m., according to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. >> Read more trending news Around 11:30 a.m. Las Vegas police reported that they were investigating a shooting that occurred on South Las Vegas Boulevard. Authorities believed an individual who was on a bus that was traveling on the strip is responsible for the shooting. Police closed portions of the strip, and set up a staging area and a barricade. Guests at the Cosmopolitan resort were evacuated. Shortly after 11 a.m., KSNV reported that at least one victim of a shooting had been transported to University Medical Center trauma in unknown condition. At 1 p.m. Saturday, authorities reported a second victim had been killed. According to USA Today, police evacuated the nearby Cosmopolitan hotel and casino shortly after 1 p.m. “The shooting incident happened on the bus,” said Larry Hadfield, a spokesman with Las Vegas Metro police. “We had one single shooting incident with two victims. Both were transported to the trauma center and one is deceased.” Hadfield said police were negotiating with the suspect Saturday afternoon in an effort to take him into custody, USA Today reported. This is a developing story. Check back for updates. 
  • Las Vegas police are investigating a burglary at a retail store in the Bellagio Hotel and Casino after an incident that occurred overnight Friday, The Associated Press reported.  >> Read more trending news Police said Saturday they believe at least three people entered the store. It was not immediately clear what items were stolen. The store was closed at the time of the burglary.  Authorities said the suspects broke into a high-end jewelry and watch store, where they may have used sledgehammers to break into the shop's jewelry cases. A witness said she saw an armed burglar wearing a pig mask near a Rolex store. Authorities said they are reviewing surveillance tape, where they saw multiple suspects wearing “character masks,” ABC News reported. According to ABC News, the Bellagio was on lockdown for approximately a half-hour after the incident. Police initially thought at least one of the theives may have fired gunshots during the burglary, but later said they believed the sound of the sledgehammers breaking the jewelry cases may have been confused for gunshots. Guests fled the hotel and casino in the midst of the incident. No one was injured.  Police have taken one suspect into custody.  Portions of the Bellagio were closed Saturday as police continue to investigate.
  • A couple has been indicted on accusations that they murdered their deaf teenage son and then burned down their house to cover up the crime, the Associated Press reported. >> Read more trending news  According to the Chenango County Sheriff’s Office in New York, Ernest F. Franklin II, 35, and his wife, Heather Franklin, 33, of Guilford, New York, were charged with second-degree murder, arson and tampering with physical evidence. The two were indicted Friday on charges of second-degree murder in the death of their adopted son, 16-year-old Jeffrey Franklin, People magazine reported. Following an investigation of a fire on March 1 at the family’s 1,300-square-foot home, the couple was arrested. Investigators believe they set fire to their home to cover up the killing of their son. An autopsy determined he died prior to the fire, according to the sheriff’s office. Local law authorities have not said how or when the boy was killed. The Franklins got married in 2011 and adopted Jeffrey six or seven years ago, the sheriff’s office said. According to People magazine, Ernest is an Iraq War veteran. Heather wrote in posts on her Facebook page that she is pregnant. The Franklins are being held without bail. They entered a plea of not guilty. “People are asking themselves, ‘How could this happen?'” Chenango County Sheriff Ernest Cutting Jr. told People magazine. “Certainly for the public here, it’s a mix of anger and frustration and disappointment.” Just days before Heather Franklin was arrested, she posted an update on her Facebook page about how much she missed her son, who she called JR. She also informed friends and family that she and her husband had added their “needs” and “wants” to the CheckedTwice.com Family Gift Registry because they lost everything in the fire. A GoFundMe page was also established, but it has been taken down. The Associated Press reported that police who responded to a 911 call about 1:15 a.m. on March 1 found the Franklin’s house, located about an hour away from Syracuse, engulfed in flames. Jeffrey was inside and unable to escape the fire, according to the sheriff’s office. Authorities initially said the cause of the fire appeared to be a wood stove, the residence’s main heating source. “People are wondering how anybody could do something so brutal to a developmentally disabled and handicapped 16-year-old boy,” Cutting told People. “There are a lot of people who would have taken him. There are organizations that would have taken care of him. Why resort to that? … It’s just a terrible, terrible tragedy.”
  • North Carolina police said they have found the bodies of two missing children Saturday morning in Hoke County. >> Read more trending news  Fayetteville police had been searching for 2-year-old Serenity and 4-day-old Genesis Freeman overnight Friday. They were in their father's custody when they disappeared and he reportedly refused to tell police where the children were. Tillman Freeman, 30, was first charged with two counts of child abuse and child neglect.  When their bodies were found in a wooded area off of Highway 211, two counts of first-degree murder were added to those charges. The children's mother was in the hospital at the time the children went missing for an unrelated reason.
  • A residential neighborhood on the westside, near Timquana Park and Timuquana Country Club was the scene of a police and Hazmat investigation Saturday morning.  Jacksonville Sheriff’s Officers responded to Timuquana Rd. because a vehicle was left parked in front of a house with a sign that read, “Danger, stay back hazmat needed”. JSO says there was a strong chemical smell around the car.  JFRD Hazmat was called to the neighborhood and advised citizens to shelter inside their homes.  No evacuation was ordered. One person was found dead inside the car.  JSO Homicide Detectives are now investigating.  

The Latest News Videos