Caucuses can be complicated, but don’t worry -- we have you covered! Here’s a summary of what you need to know about the 2020 Iowa GOP Caucuses:
Yes, Republicans are having a presidential preference vote too
We take our first-in-the-nation responsibility seriously, and this was an important factor in our decision to hold our caucuses. As we look ahead to 2024, 2028, etc. -- putting on a fair, transparent, and successful caucus this cycle will demonstrate to the rest of the country that we deserve to remain first.
What is a Caucus?
The Iowa Caucuses are a function of the state political parties. A caucus is run more like a meeting than a polling location on election day. After all, they are held every two years as a means to conduct party business, including but not limited to: selecting delegates and alternate delegates to county conventions, choosing members to serve on local county party committees, and in presidential years, caucus-goers indicate their preference for president.
The voting process is fairly straightforward at a Republican caucus -- attendees are handed a blank sheet of paper, and eligible voters write down their preferred GOP presidential candidate. This is one of the many things that make the Iowa caucuses so unique: there are no ballot requirements and no fees. Any person who wants to run just needs to make sure enough Iowans write his or her name down on that blank sheet of paper.
In order to participate in a Republican caucus, you must be a registered Republican who will be 18 by election day in November. Same-day registration is also available, so Iowans can register to vote or change their registration at a caucus site. You can learn more by visiting our Caucus FAQ page.
Sick of the jargon? Here are some key caucus positions and what they mean.
The Iowa Caucuses are organized into 1,682 precincts throughout the state. Each precinct runs its own presidential poll and then dispenses with party business. This entire process comprises a Precinct Caucus. Each precinct has a designated Caucus Location, and many precincts will meet in the SAME general location. For instance, three precincts might meet in the same high school, but split up into the cafeteria, the library, and the gym. Precinct Chairs are responsible for running the precinct caucuses. The Precinct Chair will call the meeting to order and keep the process running along until adjournment. The chair must be elected by members of the caucus. Before then, he or she is known as a temporary chair. Precinct Secretaries are charged with recording the caucus proceedings in a specific precinct, and Precinct Reporters have been recruited and trained by the Iowa GOP and/or county chairs to report presidential poll results on caucus night.
A Guide to Covering a Caucus
Caucuses are open to the public, so you are free to cover any precinct. We simply ask that you inform the county chair so they are aware you will be in attendance. While you cannot vote or interfere with caucus proceedings in any way, you can film the caucus as it takes place, and you can speak with caucus-goers before or after the proceedings. Every caucus convenes promptly at 7 PM, so it’s a good idea to get there a little early.
When it comes to picking a location to cover, keep in mind that there will likely be many precincts with surrogates speaking, so keep an eye out for those announcements. Click here for a complete list of caucus locations. To see a list of events that will take place before caucus day, visit iowagop.org/events.
It’s also very likely that campaign surrogates will be visiting the media filing center throughout the day, and Iowa GOP Chairman Kaufmann will be available as well. If you still need to request credentials or have any questions about the media center, you can visit the Iowa Caucus Consortium’s website here.
Results will be reported in a secure and timely manner
Results will likely start trickling in around 7:30 PM. We will once again be using an app to streamline the reporting process, making results more accurate and transparent. Votes will be cast, counted in public, and then reported by our precinct reporters using the app. These results are then compiled and published on a public website. We will let the results speak for themselves and make a decision on public announcements come caucus night.
It’s important to keep in mind that a caucus is an extremely transparent process. It starts with results being tallied and reported in public and finishes with results being publicly available for activists and media to validate.
Like we said, caucuses can be complicated. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact Iowa GOP at 515-282-8105, or online at iowagop.org/media_contact. If it is urgent, you can also email Iowa GOP Communications Director Aaron Britt at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 712-541-3038.
From Chairman Jeff Kaufmann and Chairman Troy Price: Iowa deserves to go first
Mark Shields: In defense of Iowa
Throwback! New York Times: Iowa’s Heartland Beyond the Campaign Trail
BLOG CONTRIBUTED BY THE REPUBLICAN PARTY OF IOWA