9 things you need to know before caucusing


by Mackenzie Bills, Special to the Simpsonian

1. What is a caucus? 

A caucus is the first step to party nominations for presidential candidates. A caucus is form of choosing nominees. It is done in a public format, where stat parties organize meeting time and location. All those that wish to partake in the nomination arrive and participate in voting done by pubic opinion i.e. hand raising or breaking into groups. Iowa is so important because Iowa is the first state in the nation to participate in the caucus and declare its delegate nominations. Caucuses used to be the main form of party nomination, but now there are a few states that participate in caucuses rather than primaries. 

2. How is it different from a primary?

The difference between a caucus and a primary is the means to achieving a party nominee. A primary is what most people perceive as voting- the secret ballot is cast to select one’s choice. While a caucus is voting done by public support rather than secret i.e. hand raising or breaking up into groups. 

3. How do I caucus?

A caucus depends on the party you wish to partake in. A common misconception is that a caucus is run by the state, but since it is organized by party, one must be registered in a party. For example: One must register as a Republican and attend the Republican caucus. One must register as a Democrat and attend the Democratic caucus. 

All caucuses begin at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 1. You should already be registered when you arrive and check in. If you are not registered yet, please register via Simpson Votes representatives. If you wait until the last day, you must pick up a lease agreement from Student Development to register at your precinct location. Then you show up and the precinct captains will take it from there. 

4. Where do I caucus?

Where you caucus depends on where you live. Your location depends on which party you belong to.  

Look below for caucus information: 

If you live in Precinct 2: Pi Beta Phi

Delta Delta Delta

Barker Residence Hall


Colonial Apts.

Washington Apts.

Station Square

Theme House 9

These House 10

Theme House 11

D: Kent Hubbell Hall A, Simpson College

R: Indianola Christ Church: 1112 E Iowa Ave, Indianola, Iowa 50125 

Precinct 3: 

Weinman Apts.


Alpha Tau Omega

Sigma Alpha Epsilon

Kappa Theta Psi

Lambda Chi Alpha

Kappa Kappa Gamma


Detroit Apts

Theme Houses 2-7

Sigma Lambda Gamma

D: Kent Hubbell Hall B, Simpson College

R: Warren County Administrative Building 301 N Buxton, St. Indianola, Iowa, 50125

Precinct 5: Clinton Apts.

Hamilton House

Latinos Unidos

D: Blank Performing Arts Center, Simpson College

R: Indianola Activity Center: 2204 W. Second Ave., Indianola, Iowa 50125 

5. Why are caucuses so important, especially in Iowa?

Caucuses are important because it is the first step to nominating our presidential nominees. Iowa is so important because we are the first to start the process and most specifically, the first to perform the caucus. Everyone across the country is looking to Iowa to see who we think ought to be the nominee. Secondly, Iowa generally tends to pick the nominees, and in the end, presidents. In this way, one could say Iowa’s opinions is extremely respected and influential. 

6. Why is Iowa first to caucus?

Iowa is the first to caucus because in 1972, Iowa wrote it into our constitution that we have to be the first caucus. 

7. How do Republicans caucus?

Republican caucus attendees have an opportunity to hear candidate delegates declare their support and explain why. From there, supporters are able to decide by a show of hands or a paper ballot of who they choose to support. 

8. How do Democrats caucus?

Democrats caucus by breaking up into groups of people by their candidate of choice or an undecided group. Then the precinct captains will run statistical numbers to decide viability. Depending on the number of delegates each group has, some caucus attendees have the opportunity to choose another group and the others have the opportunity to persuade others to their location.

9. Can I caucus if I’m an independent?

You cannot caucus if you are an independent because you are declaring “non partisanship,” and a caucus is performed and organized by a party. You must register as a Democrat or Republican to caucus. Simpson Votes representatives are available to register you back to independent after the caucus if you wish.