Asked by Lorenza Eichmann Politics and GovernmentDefinitions
What is a caucus?
I keep hearing about the Iowa caucuses, but I don’t really understand how they’re different from primaries. Can somebody help me out?
January 30, 2020 5:52PM
A caucus is a method political parties use in some states (notably Iowa) to choose presidential nominees, which is also what a primary is for, so that confusion is definitely justified. The main difference is that in a primary, you vote by secret ballot, but in a caucus, you gather with other members of the party and vote by raising your hand or grouping together in certain areas.
Caucuses also give participants the chance to debate candidates, which you definitely can’t do at a primary. They also have multiple rounds—if a candidate has less than 15 percent of the participants in their corner after the initial vote, their supporters can choose a different candidate in the second round.
The whole thing is really confusing, and there’s a lot more to the process after the actual voting, but those are the big-picture differences. Hope this helps!