Caucuses 101: What, When, Where and How

The Iowa Caucuses occupy the national spotlight every 4 years during presidential elections, yet they remain poorly understood and misrepresented.

Our state has a complicated system of political nominations that start with Party gatherings in the 1,681 precincts that make up each of Iowa’s 99 counties. That gathering is the Iowa Democratic Caucus.

What is the Iowa Democratic Caucus?
The Iowa Democratic Caucus is an electoral event held every 2 years (yep, TWO!) for the purpose of electing delegates to County Conventions. Those delegates represent constituent votes for candidates. 

The County conventions convene and in turn elect delegates for Iowa’s Congressional District Convention, and the State Convention. 

In a presidential election year, those conventions then select delegates for the national presidential nominating convention.

The net effect of the caucuses and conventions is to select Democratic candidates for ballots at the County, State and National level. 

This year, with so many candidates for governor, it’s very possible that the Democratic candidate for governor will be decided at the State Convention. And all of that begins at the caucus.

How is it different from a primary?
For one, it’s way more fun and interactive. Caucuses are truly “gatherings of neighbors” who share a political affiliation. Votes in caucuses are done in person, in a room with other Democrats from the area.

Candidates often enlist proxies to deliver speeches at the caucuses. Caucus-goers can also try to persuade their neighbors to switch candidate affiliation during the caucus due to the ‘viability’ threshold.

People who caucus for candidates that do not gather enough votes (15% of attendees, or ‘viability’) may re-cast their votes for a candidate who meets that viability threshold. These people can become very popular in a close caucus.

Who can attend?
Any registered Democrat who is (or will be) 18 or older by the date of the election that same year.

When are caucuses held?
The Iowa Caucuses are held every 2 years. The Iowa Caucus for 2018 will be held on February 5, 2018. The Scott County Caucuses will be held at 
Davenport North High School.

When are the Conventions?
Scott County’s Convention will be held on Saturday March 24, 2018. From there, the Second Congressional District Convention will take place on Saturday April 28, and the Statewide Convention following on June 16, 2018.

Where are caucuses held?
The location can change with each caucus. The next Scott County Caucuses will be held at Davenport North High School on February 5, 2018. RSVP on Facebook.

Sign up for email updates from the county party, or follow us on Facebook for information as it becomes available. 

Typically in a non-presidential year there is a single location for an entire county.

Where can I learn more?

If you like Legos...

Or here is the Wikipedia entry.