H 70° L 47°
  • cloudy-day
    Current Conditions
    Clear. H 70° L 47°
  • clear-night
    Clear. H 70° L 47°
  • clear-day
    Sunny. H 70° L 61°

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00


The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00


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

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

The Latest News Headlines

  • Its been another violent weekend in the river city as JSO is investigating multiple shootings.  The first reported shooting happened on the Southside. Police were called out to Belfort Rd. and Dickie Dr. around 1:45 Saturday afternoon, and JSO says when they arrived they could not find any victims. Police say they learned through witnesses that two victims left the scene. After another call came in for police and they went to St. Vincent’s Hospital South and found a woman and man with injuries. JSO says the woman drove the man to the hospital after the incident near Belfort Rd. Police say witnesses saw several men in their mid-20’s beating up the male victim in a neighbor’s front yard. After the beating, police say the suspects left and the male victim got into a car with the female victim. Police say that’s when another car drive up and shot multiple times into the victim’s car before driving away north on Belfort Rd.  Police say the man had life-threatening injuries and the woman had non-life-threatening injuries.    Then later Saturday JSO was called out around 9pm to Columbus Ave, on the Northside, after getting reports that 2 people there were shot. Police say when they got to the scene they found a 26-year-old white woman dead in the road and a 29-year-old white man with life-threating injuries.  JSO says at this point they don’t know exactly what happened that led to the shooting and they don’t have any information on any suspect or suspects. Police say they are looking through the area for evidence.  Early Sunday morning JSO were then called out to Melanie Ave, on the Northside, after getting a call that 2 people were shot. Police say the incident happened around 12:45 in the morning. Police say when they got to the scene they found a white man dead on the porch. After they searched the home they found another victim, this one was a 16-year-old white female and police say she had life threatening injuries. Police say she was taken to the hospital.  Police say the victims, and a suspect they knew, were involved in an argument which escalated. JSO says the suspect, a black man, shot the victims then left the area. Police are interviewing witnesses, trying to identify the suspect.   At around 3:15 Sunday morning police were called out to an incident on I-95 northbound near the Union St. exit about a car crash with a man inside who was dead from a gunshot wound. The victim in this incident has been identified as 25-year-old Steven Shawn Grady. Police say he is from Castle Hayne, North Carolina. According to JSO there were 2 other people in the car, and those 2 are being questioned by police. Police say this shooting is not being investigated as a random act of violence by a stranger.  Police are asking if you have any information on the shootings to give them a call at 904-630-0500. 
  • Here’s what we know about the fatal shooting of a New Kensington, Pennsylvania, police officer: >> Visit WPXI.com for complete coverage >> Click here or scroll down for more >> Read more trending news
  • Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe was dismissed as leader of ZANU-PF, the country’s ruling party, on Sunday, Reuters reported. >> Read more trending news He was replaced by Emmerson Mnangagwa, the deputy Mugabe fired this month, sources at a special ZANU-PF meeting to decide Mugabe’s fate told Reuters.“He has been expelled,” one of the delegates said. “Mnangagwa is our new leader.” Mugabe’s wife, Grace, who had harbored ambitions of succeeding the 93-year-old leader, was also expelled from the party, Reuters reported. Speaking before the meeting, war veterans’ leader Chris Mutsvangwa said Mugabe was running out of time to negotiate his departure and should leave the country while he could. “He’s trying to bargain for a dignified exit,” he said. Mutsvangwa said he would call for street protests if Mugabe refused to leave. “We will bring back the crowds and they will do their business.” he told reporters.
  • A Texas sheriff is getting angry feedback from free speech advocates after he wrote a Facebook post, which has since been deleted, threatening charges against a driver for a profane anti-Trump sticker on the window of her truck. Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy E. Nehls posted a photo on his Facebook page Wednesday that showed a white GMC Sierra with a window decal that reads, “(EXPLETIVE) TRUMP AND (EXPLETIVE) YOU FOR VOTING FOR HIM.” The photo shared by Nehls was censored to block a portion of the offending word. Similar images found online indicate that Nehls also blocked out a middle finger aimed at those reading the sticker.  In Nehls’ now-deleted post, which was saved and shared by the ACLU, the sheriff asked anyone who knows the owner of the truck to contact his office.  “I have received numerous calls regarding the offensive display on this truck, as it is often seen along FM 359,” Nehls wrote. “Our prosecutor has informed us she would accept disorderly conduct charges regarding it, but I feel we could come to an agreement regarding a modification to it.” The ACLU, in turn, asked the driver of the truck to contact the ACLU of Texas.  “No, Sheriff Troy E. Nehls, you can’t prosecute speech just because it contains words you don’t like,” the ACLU’s post read.  The Texas branch of the organization also spoke out, posting on Facebook details of the constitutional protections for profane and indecent speech. “Constitutional Law 101: You can’t ban speech just because it has (expletive) in it,” the post read. “Hey truck owner, feel free to contact the ACLU of Texas.” The driver of the truck, Karen Fonseca, did reach out to the Houston Chronicle. Fonseca, 46, said the truck is her husband’s, but she often drives it. She also said she used to work for Nehls in the county jail. Fonseca told the Chronicle that the sticker attracted plenty of attention even before the sheriff learned of it. People often honk their horns and take pictures. “It’s not to cause hate or animosity,” Fonseca told the newspaper. “It’s just our freedom of speech, and we’re exercising it.” >> Read more trending news She said police officers have pulled her over because of the sticker, but that they failed to come up with a reason to ticket her. She said she has no plan to contact her former boss about modifying the sticker.  Fort Bend District Attorney John Healey told the Chronicle that the sticker does not constitute a criminal offense, no matter what one of his own prosecutors may have told Nehls.  “I did not believe it was a prosecutable case based on the definition of disorderly conduct,” Healey said.  Both Healey and Nehls are Republicans, the Chronicle reported. Though Healey is not running for re-election, Nehls is considering a bid for Congress.  The sheriff said his concern was that the language on the sticker could cause a dangerous confrontation. “Many families have called that have seen that truck on our county roadways and are very offended by the language on the truck,” Nehls said. “I think they’re walking a fine line.”
  • The 45th American Music Awards ceremony is set for Sunday in Los Angeles, and if the past is any indication, you can expect a night with a few surprising moments.  Remember Garth Brooks declining the award, or the time Pat Boone dressed in leather? Yeah, it’s likely to be that kind of night. The show will be broadcast live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Here’s what you need to know about the show. What time: The show begins at 8 p.m. ET What channel: The AMAs will be broadcast live on ABC. Who is hosting: Tracee Ellis Ross, star of “black-ish,” is hosting. What about a pre-show: What would a music awards show be without a pre-show? AJ Gibson, Marc Malkin, Laura Marano and Oliver Trevena will host the official pre-show, “AMAs Red Carpet Live presented by Security Benefit.” The two-hour pre-show will stream live from the Microsoft Theater beginning at 6 p.m. ET. You can watch the show on Twitter. Find it here. live.twitter.com/amas or via @AMAs. You can also watch “E! Live from the Red Carpet” from 6-8 p.m. ET. on the E! Network. Who has the most nominations: Bruno Mars has the most nominations this year – eight. Who is nominated for Artist of the Year: The Chainsmokers, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran are up for the award. Who is up for Video of the Year: Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee ('Despacito'), Bruno Mars ('That's What I Like') and Ed Sheeran ('Shape of You') are the nominees. For a complete list of nominees, click here. Who is performing: Here is a list of those scheduled to perform: Alessia Cara Alesso BTS Christina Aguilera  Kelly Clarkson  Florida Georgia Line Niall Horan Selena Gomez Imagine Dragons Lady Gaga Nick Jonas Khalid Demi Lovato  Shawn Mendes P!nk Portugal. The Man Diana Ross Hailee Steinfeld watt Zedd Anything special: Diana Ross, mother of host Tracee Ellis Ross, is both performing and receiving a lifetime achievement award.

The Latest News Videos