© 2022 Iowa Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

What To Know About The Iowa Democratic Caucus Rules Before Feb. 3

Clay Masters
IPR File
A 2016 Iowa caucus in Des Moines.

The Iowa Democratic Party is doing the Iowa caucuses a bit differently this year. In 2016, the Democratic National Committee told the state party they needed to be able to do a recount in 2020. 

Here are the big changes for this year. 

1. Presidential preference cards: Each caucusgoer will write down their choices on what the party is calling a presidential preference card. This will create a paper trail of each and every Democratic caucusgoer’s preferred candidates that can be referenced in the event a recount is called.

2. Only two alignments: That’s when supporters split into preference groups according to candidate. Groups that don’t have at least 15 percent of the total number of people in the room are considered not viable, and those members can choose to re-align with other preference groups, or they can leave the caucus. In some rare cases there may be a limited third alignment, but by and large there will just be two alignments, in contrast to past cycles when there were multiple rounds.

3. Locked in: If a group is viable after the first alignment, its members are locked in to that first choice – even if it’s the ‘uncommitted’ group. Those caucusgoers will not be able to leave a viable group to support another candidate; only members of nonviable groups will be allowed to realign.  

You can find out more about the Iowa Democratic Party’s process for Feb. 3 at thecaucuses.org

Clay Masters is Iowa Public Radio’s Morning Edition host and lead political reporter.