Michael Hoover hoov at
Sun Jan 30 11:11:58 MST 2000

Jose Perez:
>     In the republican caucuses, what happened is voting on preferred
> presidential candidates. In the democratic caucuses, the voting was on
> individuals pledged to on or another candidate for county conventions which
> would then elect state delegates, which then elect national convention
> delegates. The theory behind this is that local friendships/animosities play
> no role in the proceedings.
> The last time someone who
> won in these caucuses went on to become President was 1976 (Jimmy Carter)

Carter didn't actually win '76 Iowa Dem caucus, 36% of delegates were
uncommitted, 28% were committed to Carter.  But Carter (who campaigned
for prez for 4 yrs) spent great deal of time in Iowa.  His sons essentially
moved there for a couple of years and he built organizational base of
support among those who attended caucus nite.

Moreover, Carter's decision to play Iowa caucus was based on '72 caucus in
which 23% of delegates were committed to George McGovern.  While 36% were
uncommitted and 35.5% were committed to Ed Muskie, McGovern did 'better
than expected' which has been the media standard ever since.

McGovern was first Dem prez candidate to benefit from party's post-68 rules
binding delegates to national nominating convention in proportion to
primary votes received or delegates selected via caucus method.
Interestingly, McGovern was co-chair of party commission that proposed
and formulated rule changes.

Prior to '72, most state delegates to national convention were chosen
through party organizations using closed caucuses (meeting restricted
to members of party county excecutive committees.  So attendance was
much less than 5-10% that has turned out since '72. Only about 15 states
held primaries and most of them were 'preference' votes which could
enable a candidates to demonstrate 'popular' support but didn't
assure committed convention delegates.

Post-68 rules allowed for use of open caucus (meeting open to any
registered party voter who wants to attend).  Iowa is one of ten states
that uses this method for selecting delegates to national nominating
convention (other 40 use either closed or open primries, latter allows
a registered Rep voter to vote in Dem primary and vice-versa).  Only
Iowa's caucus receives any attention and that is because it is held
first.  Because Iowa state legislature established rules required
that a certain amount of time must pass between caucus and county
conventions and then betweeen county and state conventions.  Entire
process has to be completed by sometime in May.  Since '72, caucus has
had to be in late January to meet time frame.  And since McGovern &
Carter, media has descended upon Iowa as starting gate in horse-race
coverage of campaign.    Michael Hoover

btw: Iowa party leaders cried foul last year when Louisiana considered
moving its caucus prior to Iowa because they realized they'd lose
attention of national media.

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