The Democratic and Republican caucuses are scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. ET (7 p.m. CT), when doors close at caucus sites.
How does a caucus work?
For the Democratic caucuses, voters will split up into different sections of the room dedicated to their presidential candidate of choice. Typically, a candidate needs 15% of the vote to remain viable, as determined by the amount of people participating in the precinct location. Smaller locations may have different viability thresholds.
If a candidate is not viable, their voters can realign to another viable candidate or join together to create a group in support of another candidate that meets the threshold.
Iowa Republican caucusgoers will vote by secret ballot, not by standing up in different groups like Iowa Democratic caucusgoers.
What should I watch for, and how will CNN project a winner?
The Democratic “entrance poll” estimates how much support a presidential candidate has at the start of the caucus process. It does not estimate the final Democratic caucus result.
This year, the Iowa Democratic Party will release three numbers: first preference, final preference and state delegate equivalent results:
- First preference results will indicate how many people supported candidates during the first round of caucusing
- Final preference results will indicate how many people supported each candidate during the second round of caucusing. Think of this total like the “popular vote.” CNN will report those votes throughout coverage of the Iowa Caucuses.
- The state delegate equivalent results are calculated based on the final preference totals. A state delegate equivalent is the number of state convention delegates that a candidate would eventually win, based on the results of the pecinct caucuses. It can be used to estimate the number of national convention delegates a candidate might ultimately receive. Only the Iowa Democratic Party calculates state delegate equivalents; the Republicans do not.
CNN will report each of the totals. As in previous cycles, CNN will project the winner by the candidate who receives the most state delegate equivalents.
How many delegates are at stake in the Iowa caucuses?
There are 41 Democratic delegates and 40 Republican delegates up for grabs Monday night.
Who won the Iowa caucuses in 2016?
Hillary Clinton won the 2016 Democratic Iowa caucuses by a razor-thin margin over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Clinton went on to become the Democratic nominee for president that year. Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz won the Republican Iowa caucuses, but now-President Donald Trump ultimately became the party’s nominee.
Who is running for president?
Eleven candidates are running for the Democratic nomination:
- Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet
- Former Vice President Joe Biden
- Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
- Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg
- Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
- Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar
- Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick
- Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders
- Businessman Tom Steyer
- Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
- Entrepreneur Andrew Yang
Three candidates are running for the Republican nomination:
- President Donald Trump
- Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld
- Former Republican Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh
Where do the candidates stand heading into the caucuses?
The latest Iowa poll from Monmouth University found Biden and Sanders making up the top tier of candidates, with Biden receiving 23% support among likely Democratic caucusgoers and Sanders with 21%. Buttigieg landed at 16%, Elizabeth Warren at 15% and Amy Klobuchar at 10% as the other candidates in double digits.
Biden and Sanders are at the front of the field for the Democratic national primary, according to the most recent CNN Poll of Polls released Friday.
How many precinct locations are there?
Democrats will have 1,678 regular caucus precinct locations, and will have an additional 87 satellite caucuses in Iowa and around the world. Republicans will have 1,682 precinct locations.
Who can vote in the caucuses?
Only registered party members may participate in their own party’s caucuses. But anyone may register with either party on caucuses night.
Who runs the Iowa caucuses?
The Republican Party of Iowa and the Iowa Democratic Party run and organize their own caucuses. The state government does not play a role in this process.