Quick review: a caucus is an open election, not a secret ballot, as it is in a primary. Several states still use the caucus method, minted back in colonial times, in which groups of vocal delegates can actually sway other delegates to change their votes at the last minute. It’s a literal shouting match and can be surprising and unpredictable.
Iowa votes first, with 30 delegates up for grabs. Just in case you hadn’t noticed, being first is Iowa’s elongated place in the sun every four years, and makes the outcome incredibly important from a psychological standpoint, as in: “the candidate who won the first caucus…” That winner will stand alone for eight influential days of victory dancing, until the New Hampshire Primary, a secret ballot vote, on Feb 9, with 23 delegates up for grabs.
This first primary is famous for its position as well, not to mention the old saying “As New Hampshire goes, so goes the nation,” referring to their winner usually taking the national election. Which in reality, only seems to happen about half the time. No matter. Between New Hampshire’s 23 delegates and Iowa’s 30, recent candidacies have risen or died, and with so many Republican runners this year, we may see a few out by the third week in February.
The South Carolina Primary, with 50 delegates, follows on Feb 20 and the Nevada Caucus closes the month on Feb 23. Then comes Super-DUPER Tuesday, March 1, which oughta seal the weaker candidates’ fates, with 13 states and 565 bound delegates up for grabs. March 15 is now the date for merely Super Tuesday, with another 6 states and 361 delegates in winner-take-all votes, which will result in more than half of all delegates having been sorted out and committed to their candidates.
With the Republican Convention slated a month earlier than last election’s date, this time coming in mid-July, these next few months will doubtless reveal the shape – and the tenor – of the fun that’s to follow.