HOW THE CAUCUSES WORK IN IOWA

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Thursday, January 3, 2008

HOW THE CAUCUSES WORK IN IOWA

The Democratic caucus is a multi-step process. At the outset, participants indicate their support for a candidate by standing in a designated area of the caucus site. Participants then try to persuade undecideds and those backing other candidates to support their candidate. Supporters for each candidate are counted, and caucus officials determine which candidates are "viable." To remain viable, a candidate must gain the support of at least 15 percent of caucus participants. Once viability is determined, participants can realign with other candidates, giving supporters of nonviable candidates another choice and everyone else an opportunity to change their minds. Delegates from each precinct are apportioned to each viable candidate according to a formula.

The Republican caucus is much simpler. Participants listen to a speech from a representative of each campaign, write the name of their preferred candidate on a blank piece of paper and hand the paper to the caucus chairman.

Both caucuses start at 7 p.m. Central time. Participants can register at caucus sites and must be registered members of the party they caucus with. Anyone who will be 18 by the date of the presidential election is eligible to take part. There are 1,781 caucus sites.

WHAT IOWANS CARE ABOUT

Democrats and Republicans have very different views about what they consider their top voting issues. Below are various issues and the percentages of respondents who named each as the most or second most important to them.

Democrats

Republicans

48%

Iraq

30%

Immigration

46%

Health care

19%

Iraq

24%

Economy

17%

Terrorism

16%

Education

15%

Abortion

6%

Immigration

14%

Economy, taxes

SOURCE: Washington Post-ABC News Poll

conducted Dec. 13-17

DEMOCRATIC AND REPUBLICAN POLLS

Polls taken this week by CNN and the Des Moines Register show tight races.

DemocratsCNNDMR
Hillary Clinton30%25%
Barack Obama28%32%
John Edwards26%24%

RepublicansCNNDMR
Mike Huckabee33%32%
Mitt Romney25%26%
Rudolph Giuliani11%5%
John McCain9%13%
Fred Thompson9%9%
Ron Paul6%9%


© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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