Good Question: How does a presidential caucus work?

How does a presidential caucus work?

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — What’s the difference between a presidential caucus and a primary?

Only a handful of states hold presidential caucuses, traditionally starting with Iowa. Think of a caucus as a precursor to a primary election with some key differences. Jim asks: “How exactly does a caucus work?”

Caucuses help to determine who the presidential nominee will be for a particular political party. During a caucus, candidates speak to registered voters. Sometimes voters speak on behalf of their chosen candidates, then participants cast their votes.

Those votes are tallied, then state delegates are assigned to candidates depending on how many votes the candidate gets.

Whoever gets the most delegates wins the caucus. Those delegates then go on to represent their party at a national convention, where they will cast another vote on behalf of local constituents. That vote is ultimately what determines a party’s nominee.

Here are the differences between a presidential primary and a caucus:

  • Caucuses are organized by political parties.
  • Primaries are organized by state governments.
  • Caucuses must be attended in-person, unlike primaries which can accept mail-in ballots.

With caucuses, voters typically must be registered with a political party. With primaries, there are two different types. In open primaries, people can vote for whomever they want no matter the candidate’s party. In closed primaries, voters can only vote for candidates within their party.

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