The U.S. election has been proceeding full steam ahead for quite some time now. Numerous candidates have announced presidential runs, campaigned in multiple states, and some have even dropped out. However, the exciting part begins soon: the time to vote. While the Republican party already has an incumbent candidate – President Trump – the Democratic party has not chosen its presidential candidate yet. On February 3, the Democratic presidential primaries begin, as voters flock to the polls to officially begin voting for their candidate of choice. The voting process usually has two main forms: caucuses and primaries, but these voting methods can be fairly confusing. Here’s what to expect from the upcoming Democratic presidential primary elections.
The first state to vote is Iowa, which has the famous Iowa caucus. The caucus often can be used to determine candidates’ viability, as it is the first instance of actual voting in the presidential election. The Iowa caucus results do not necessarily reflect the nationwide voting patterns as it has a 55% success rate at predicting the Democratic nomination and a 43% success rate of predicting the Republican nomination. However, it effectively whittles the campaign field down to a more realistic pool of candidates. Failing to secure a decent-sized portion of the vote usually signifies the end for smaller presidential campaigns, causing many to drop out. On the other hand, larger campaigns can be energized by winning the first caucus of the election year and may use their election victory to further invigorate and excite supporters.
The caucus is a different type of election voting than what some may expect. In the Iowa caucus, voting takes place in numerous precincts across the state. Voters show their support for their candidate of choice by standing in a designated area, while undecided voters stand in a separate area. Campaign supporters try to recruit supporters of other candidates, or undecided voters, to their side by reasoning and debating with them. After 30 minutes, there is a first round of tallying voters. Candidates have to meet a certain threshold–usually 15% or more–to be considered officially “viable.” Then, a second round of political realignment begins, as supporters and funders of “inviable” candidates then have to throw their support behind another candidate. They can move across the room to another area to support either an already viable candidate, or join forces with another inviable candidate to boost them into “viable territory”. Finally, a final vote tally is then taken, and election delegates are awarded proportionally based on the number of votes each candidate received. Filled with lots of moving around, supporters defecting from their first choice of candidate to a more viable option, and high stakes, the Iowa caucus is an important yet unpredictable battleground in the upcoming election. Recent polls have given former Vice President Biden a slim lead over a surging Senator Sanders, while Mayor Buttigieg and Senator Warren remain close behind. However, due to the small margins between each candidate and the number of undecided voters, it is difficult to predict who will prevail in the upcoming Iowa caucus.
After the Iowa caucus, various states will begin to take their turn to vote. The New Hampshire primary will take place on February 11, and they follow a more straightforward method of voting on ballots. This will be followed by the Nevada caucuses and South Carolina primary, and then a “Super Tuesday” on March 3, where 15 states hold primaries with over 1,300 election delegates up for grabs. While only 12 out of the initial 29 Democratic candidates remain in the field, once the primaries officially begin, more will undoubtedly start to drop out. Given the close status of the election, only time will tell who will become the eventual Democratic nominee for president.