In 1980 nearly 5,000 caucuses were held around the state . . .

2,442 Democratic caucuses

2,389 Republican caucuses

4,831 Total

Of 1,746,725 registered voters . . .

566,683 Democrats

551,322 Republicans

628,720 Independents

Just 12 percent attended caucuses.

100,000 Democrats

106,000 Republicans

NOTE: 1980 figures are used here because there was no Republican contest in 1984, when President Reagan was the incumbent.


1. Voters at each caucus divide into groups according to candidate preference. A chairmandetermines the quorum each group needs to elect county convention delegates, (15 percent of total attendance).

2. The chairman records the size of each preference group. Those lacking quorums may join other groups. (If one candidate has 85 percent or more of the caucus vote, he is automatically awarded all the delegates.)

3. The chairman informs each group how many delegates it may select. This number is in proportion to the size of the group: Larger groups select more delegates.

4. The chairman informs county Democratic headquarters and state Democratic headquarters how big each preference group is and how many delegates each will elect.

5. The groups elect delegates and alternates, then report their selections and candidate preference to the chairman.

6. The caucus ratifies the election of all the delegates.


1. A secret straw vote is held to determine candidate preference. This is a popularity contest, not a step that leads to delegate selection.

2. Results are reported to the News Election Service and state Republican headquarters.

3. The caucus allocates county convention delegates to each candidate. Usually this reflects the preference vote, but it is not directly tied to it.

4. Republicans do not require a 15 percent quorum to qualify for delegates.