Iowa Caucus

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Tony Yin writes, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and Mike Huckabee…

Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and Mike Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas won the Iowa Caucus in their perspective parties. The Democratic caucuses attracted an estimated 220,000 voters; the Republicans, nearly 115,000, both are both record setting numbers. In the democratic side, John Edwards came in second and Hilary Clinton, who appears to be the front-runner, came in third. In the Republican side, it was a close match between Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney with Huckabee winning. In the distant, John McCain and Fred Thompson tied for third. Obama’s victory in this overwhelmingly white state stood as a powerful answer to the question of whether America is prepared to vote for a black person for president. Obama’s main slogan is “change.” He said “The message of this campaign has been that we need to bring people together – not just Democrats, but independents, Republicans – and unite them behind a progressive agenda for the future of this country, and it began here tonight.” Huckabee’s populist appeal – powered by support from evangelicals – outmuscled a political operation that Romney spent more than a year building. Polls of Republicans entering the caucus sites found that nearly 60 percent described themselves as evangelical, and by overwhelming numbers they said they intended to vote for Huckabee. For Democrats, the contest had historic overtones: a battle between a junior senator, Obama, trying to become the nation’s first black president and a former first lady, Clinton, seeking to become the first woman to occupy the Oval Office. Edwards often found himself crowded out by their fight.In the Republican caucuses, each voter casts his or her vote by secret ballot, so it is more like a primary than a caucus. After listening to some campaigning for each candidate by caucus participants, they write their choices. The results are tabulated and reported to the state party which releases the results to the media. Delegates from the precinct caucuses go on to the County Convention, then the District Convention, which in turn selects delegates to the State Convention. The process used by the Democrats is more complex than the Republican Party caucus process. Participants indicate their support for a particular candidate by standing in a designated. After everyone is done voting, the supporters for each candidate are counted. At this point, the caucus officials determine which candidates are “viable”. Depending on the number of county delegates to be elected, the “viability threshold” can be anywhere from 15% to 25% of attendees. Once viability is determined, participants have roughly another 30 minutes to “realign. When the voting is closed, a final head count is conducted. These numbers are reported to the state party, which counts the total number of delegates for each candidate and reports the results to the media. The delegates chosen by the precinct then go to a later caucus, the county convention, to choose delegates to the district convention and state convention.

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