Since the 1970s, the Iowa Caucuses have been the first contest in the presidential election cycle. Before both parties compete for support from the American people, they must win their party’s nomination, which entails winning the support of enough delegates across all 50 states. Traditionally, Iowa is the first, opting to host a party caucus instead of an ordinary primary election, and has been seen as a testing ground for presidential candidates who have a shot at winning their parties nomination. Since then, the Iowa caucuses have been seen as a boom or bust for any candidate, and has led to the rise of presidents such as Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama.
In 2024, both parties will be hosting caucuses on Monday, January 15th, although it will be different in some respects. The Democratic Party will be holding a “mail-in” caucus, allowing voters registered with their party to mail in their choice for the caucus. If you wish to caucus with the Democrats, you can click on this link and request a presidential preference card. As long as you are 18, a registered Democrat as of February 19th, and have residency in the state of Iowa, you should be able to participate. You can also find your in-person precinct caucus location here. If you are unsure if you’re registered to vote, you can also check here. The results of the Iowa Democratic Caucuses, however, will be released on March 5th, 2024–also known as “Super Tuesday” when over a dozen other states vote in the presidential primaries.
By contrast, the Republican Party will be holding in-person caucuses at precinct locations all over the state. They will begin at 7pm, CST, and will require Republican voters to go to the precinct location assigned to them. You can find your precinct for the Republican caucuses here and the caucus location in your precinct at this link. Like with the Democratic caucus, you must be a registered voter in Iowa, as well as registered with the Republican Party. You can check your voter registration at this link.
Caucusing itself shouldn’t take longer than 30 minutes to an hour. At every precinct, there will be what’s called a “Precinct Captain,” for every candidate participating–usually, it’s a campaign volunteer or a staffer with the campaign. Each Precinct Captain makes the case for their candidates to persuade caucus goers. This then gives voters the opportunity to debate and weigh their options before choosing a candidate. Then, everyone writes down the name of the candidate they want to vote for and the results are tallied. For the Republican Party, whichever candidate wins the most votes in the precinct is the winner of that precinct. Whichever candidate wins the most precincts across the state will be declared the winner of the Iowa Caucuses, and will be assigned a number of delegates for the Republican National Convention accordingly.
To see who is participating in the Iowa caucuses, you can click here. To read more about each candidate–who they are, what their positions are, etc.--you can just click on the candidate’s name. As always, if you have any questions, you can call our voter hotline at 1-888-868-3762.
Nick Israel (he/him/his) has been at Vote Smart since January 2022 and researched candidate issue positions before becoming Director of Elections Research last December. Prior to working at the organization, he studied political science and history at the University of Washington and American government at Georgetown University. In his free time, he likes to read political history.