Election 2020 kicks into high gear on Monday: It's Iowa Caucus day. As the AP puts it, the caucuses "set the tone" for the next 30-day blitz through the early primary states, with Iowa's chosen candidate getting a serious burst of momentum. Here's what you need to know:
- The who and when: The caucuses begin at 7pm CST, and anyone who will be 18 by election day and is registered with their respective party can participate. Some 1,679 precincts will meet to caucus in the state, and NBC News reports a party record is possible, with Monday night's turnout potentially topping the 240,000 people who turned out in 2008.
- The what: Once caucusgoers are signed in, reps for each campaign give an 11th-hour pitch and then "first alignment starts": Caucusgoers move to the area of the room that's been designated for their candidate. Those candidates with at least 15% of the vote are dubbed "viable." If you picked a "viable" candidate, that's your vote for the evening. If you haven't, you can move to a viable candidate, band with other non-viable supporters to get a non-viable candidate (yours or theirs) over the 15% mark, or go home. That portion of the night is called realignment, and it can be chaotic. Once realignment is done, a final count of the room is taken.
- This year's big change: The Iowa Democratic Party is reporting its results differently. In the past they released the state delegate equivalent numbers (that's how many of the 41 delegates up for grabs that each candidate will get at the Democratic National Convention). This year they'll be sharing the raw totals from the first and second alignments, too, with the second alignment numbers being the more meaningful ones. It's data the non-winning candidates could use to spin a story of success.