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Fri Jan 8, 2016, 03:14 PM


I think we need a pool: a "betting pool" for Iowa

By how many points will Bernie scoop the caucuses, or whatever the measuring stick is in a caucus state? After all, Causcus Night is 3 weeks after Monday...

wikipedia: The Iowa caucuses are an electoral event in which residents of the U.S. state of Iowa meet in precinct caucuses in all of Iowa's 1,681 precincts and elect delegates to the corresponding county conventions. There are 99 counties in Iowa, and thus there are 99 conventions. These county conventions then select delegates for both Iowa's Congressional District Convention and the State Convention, which eventually choose the delegates for the presidential nominating conventions...

Rather than going to polls and casting ballots, Iowans gather at a set location in each of Iowa's 1,682 precincts. Typically, these meetings occur in schools, churches, public libraries and even individuals' houses. The caucuses are held every two years, but the ones that receive national attention are the presidential preference caucuses held every four years. In addition to the voting and the presidential preference choices, caucus-goers begin the process of writing their parties’ platforms by introducing resolutions...

The Republicans and Democrats each hold their own set of caucuses subject to their own particular rules that change from time to time. Participants in each party's caucuses must be registered with that party. Participants can change their registration at the caucus location. Additionally, 17-year-olds can participate, as long as they will be 18 years old by the date of the general election. Observers are allowed to attend, as long as they do not become actively involved in the debate and voting process. For example, members of the media and campaign staff and volunteers attend many of the precinct caucuses. Youth who will not be eligible to vote by the date of the general election may also attend as observers and may volunteer to attend the county convention as youth delegates.

...The process used by the Democrats is more complex than the Republican Party caucus process. Each precinct divides its delegate seats among the candidates in proportion to caucus goers' votes. Participants indicate their support for a particular candidate by standing in a designated area of the caucus site (forming a preference group). An area may also be designated for undecided participants. Then, for roughly 30 minutes, participants try to convince their neighbors to support their candidates. Each preference group might informally deputize a few members to recruit supporters from the other groups and, in particular, from among those undecided. Undecided participants might visit each preference group to ask its members about their candidate.

After 30 minutes, the electioneering is temporarily halted and 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 is 15% of attendees. For a candidate to receive any delegates from a particular precinct, he or she must have the support of at least the percentage of participants required by the viability threshold. Once viability is determined, participants have roughly another 30 minutes to realign: the supporters of inviable candidates may find a viable candidate to support, join together with supporters of another inviable candidate to secure a delegate for one of the two, or choose to abstain. This realignment is a crucial distinction of caucuses in that (unlike a primary) being a voter's second candidate of choice can help a candidate.

When the voting is closed, a final head count is conducted, and each precinct apportions delegates to the county convention. 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. Most of the participants go home, leaving a few to finish the business of the caucus: each preference group elects its delegates, and then the groups reconvene to elect local party officers and discuss the platform. 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. Most of the delegates to the Democratic National Convention are selected at the district convention, with the remaining ones selected at the state convention. Delegates to each level of convention are initially bound to support their chosen candidate but can later switch in a process very similar to what goes on at the precinct level; however, as major shifts in delegate support are rare, the media declares the candidate with the most delegates on the precinct caucus night the winner, and relatively little attention is paid to the later caucuses...


Democratic caucus participants (though not Republicans, whose caucuses vote by secret ballot) must publicly state their opinion and vote, leading to natural problems such as peer pressure from neighbors and embarrassment over whom his or her preferred candidate might be. Another criticism involves the amount of participants' time these events consume. Participants are often required to listen to speeches from local political leaders.

An Iowa caucus can last around two hours, preventing people who must work, who are sick, or who must take care of their children from casting their vote. Absentee voting is also barred, so active-duty Iowan members of the military lose the opportunity to participate. The final criticism is the complexity of the rules in terms of how one's vote counts at the Democrat caucus meetings, as it is not a simple popular vote.

Arguments in favor of caucuses include the belief that they favor more motivated participants than simple ballots, and that supporters of non-viable candidates are able to realign with a more popular candidate and still make their vote count. Additionally, many caucus-goers consider them more interesting due to how much more interactive they are than a primary. Lastly, one other argument in favor is that caucus-goers get more information before making their vote, so those voting will potentially be more educated about their candidate choices than primary-goers.

Each precinct's vote may be weighed differently due to its past voting record. Ties can be solved by picking a name out of a hat or a simple coin toss, leading to anger over the true democratic nature of these caucuses. Additionally, the representation of the caucus has had a traditionally low turnout. Others question the permanent feature of having caucuses in certain states, while perpetually ignoring the rest of the country...

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Reply I think we need a pool: a "betting pool" for Iowa (Original post)
Proserpina Jan 2016 OP
questionseverything Jan 2016 #1
Proserpina Jan 2016 #2
nxylas Jan 2016 #3
leftcoastmountains Jan 2016 #4

Response to Proserpina (Original post)

Fri Jan 8, 2016, 03:19 PM

1. i love the transparency of the caucus states

the rest of the primaries...not so much


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Response to questionseverything (Reply #1)

Fri Jan 8, 2016, 03:29 PM

2. I hate the complexity, though


One would hope that people didn't do their thinking at the last minute during the caucus, but I guess that's the point of it all...put people on the spot and make them concede, by whittling away the alternatives. If there's anyone in Iowa who hasn't decided between Bernie and Hillary yet, I feel real sorry for their children and families...

Machine-based tabulating is a serious problem, and there isn't anything being done about it. In Michigan, there is a paper trail up to the point of tabulation, and then the collection of results...so in theory it can be verified, but in practice? I've been working at the polls since forever, and cannot recall a single recount. 1952 there was a recount for governor in Michigan, but since I wasn't even born yet...

Perhaps Bernie can lead us to some election process that is more transparent and verifiable.

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Response to Proserpina (Original post)

Fri Jan 8, 2016, 04:12 PM

3. I'm holding my breath

I'm a natural pessimist, and I fear a defeat for Bernie/the 99%/democracy. And if that happens, the braying of the royalists will be unbearable. I can hear them now, laughing their powdered wigs off at the audacity of the little people in thinking that they could challenge God's Anointed.

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Response to Proserpina (Original post)

Fri Jan 8, 2016, 06:20 PM

4. Transparency I guess but sounds like it really

keeps people from voting.

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