The first voting of the 2016 presidential election cycle is here, it is a much awaited event — this is the first time candidates are judged by voters instead of pollsters and pundits.
The kick-off time
The caucuses starts at 7 p.m. Central time as voters are expected to gather at locations scattered around the state. But that is not the actual time the voting starts. Caucuses generally begin with speeches in support of candidates before the actual voting gets begins.
How does the voting work?
The parties is to handle their caucuses differently. Republicans cast secret ballots; Democrats gather in candidate affinity groups and then reshuffle if some voters stood for a candidate who does not have enough support to be viable. This could be an issue for supporters of Martin O’Malley who may not generate the required 15% support to be viable in some caucuses. Delegates are distributed based on the percentage of support each candidate received.
What time does it end ?
There is no actual “poll closing” time like a regular election; caucuses take as much time it it can take. Most of the results are likely to be gathered and reported to state party headquarters and then given to the media sometime after 9 p.m. Central time.
So we will the winners be announced on Monday night?
Warning ! Iowa Caucuses comes with a lot of suspense, drive and chills. The process is most times incomprehensible. Nevertheless, it is the first voting of the 2016 presidential election cycle, so it is a pretty big deal — this is the first time candidates are judged by voters instead of pollsters and pundits.
Rewinding back to 2012, Mitt Romney was declared the winner of the Republican caucuses the night of the vote but several precincts were late reporting. By the time their count was added two weeks later Rick Santorum was declared the winner. To prevent a repeat of this mess, both parties have worked together with Microsoft to develop a result-reporting app that is supposed to ensure the process works better.
Keep in mind that caucuses are just nominating conventions for delegates, who go on to nominate other delegates to the state party meetings. The process would be on until July before there is final delegate count and some of them might switch candidates between Monday night and July.
What are the big story lines to watch?
The Republican would likely back Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. The Democrats would likely back Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders? If any other name comes out on top in either party, that would be a huge story and dramatically turnaround in the race. http://www.whorunsgov.com/3173-2/03173