tv This Week in Iowa Presents The Iowa Caucuses ABC January 31, 2016 10:30am-11:00am CST
about the process so we'll go into the history about how it works. but first let's start with the very basics like who's running. if you're a democrat, well, it's a field 3hillary clinton, martin o'malley, and bernie sanders. pretty simple. but, if you are a republican, it's a much tougher choice. there are 12 candidates. jeb bush, ben carson, chris christie, ted cruz, carly fiorina, jim gilmore, mike huckabee, john kasich, rand paul, marco rubio, rick santorum and donald trump. a mouthful there. and that's even after some people have already dropped out. so, how did iowa get the extreme honor of being the first in the nation to vote. well, it's a funny story because it actually happened by accident. >> what happened in 1972 that really shifted things and why we mark our modern caucus system as starting in 1972 was that after the 1968 democratic convention in chicago. the party got together, the democratic party got together proposed a series of reforms to the process for
the changes that was suggested is that if a state held a caucus, it should be a local caucus system. so everybody in the party could get involved. and that year, the iowa democratic party re-formulated their rules for the caucus to create these localized caucuses. now, this is kind of a quirk of history. what happened is as they built this new system of local caucuses. you have the precinct caucus. you'd have the county caucus, you'd have the district caucus and the state caucus. and then, you would elect people to the national convention right? they built in extra time to print delegate lists. to distribute proposed platform planks. things like that. and so they started working backwards from the national convention. and they said, okay, ya know, here's when the state convention needs to be. here's when the district conventions need to be. here's when the the county conventions
caucus date then was very, very early. and that was just a logistical question. and so, in 1972, when these new rules went into effect all across the country, iowa happened to be first. and we've been first ever since. and the reason we were first in 1972 was simple logistical calculations to make this new four step process work. yeah, when we think about political systems we try to assume that there's some sort of rationality behind them. in this case, but, it's just how history happened to evolve. it's a huge advantage to have the first of the nation caucus. um, there's no question about that. it brings a lot of economic activity into the state. it really energizes citizens. it maintains very strong political parties which in turn kind of they maintain a very vibrant system of local activists, which is not present in most states. and so we're incredible lucky. and a lot of states look at this
that. there's a lot of envy for what happens in iowa and understandably states have tried to jump in front of iowa. in both the democratic and the republican parties the rules explicitly allow iowa and new hampshire to go first in the process. and in the past couple cycles they've added south carolina and nevada as the third and fourth states. iowa caucus results have not traditionally been a very good predictor of who will ultimately win the nomination. having said that, iowa and new hampshire combined do a pretty good job predicting who the nominee will be. >> sabrina: so let's take a look at those past results. on the democratic side, iowans have been pretty good at picking the party's eventual nominee, barack obama 2008. john kerry, 2004 and al gore in 2000. on the republican side in recent history the picks haven't been quite as successful. rick santorum was the winner last go around. nominee mitt romney did get 2nd place. mike huckabee in 2008 won. john mccain, the
george w. bush was the winner though in 2000 before becoming the party's nominee. now one of the complaints of the iowa caucuses is people just don't show up for them. so, how representative and accurate can they really be. let's take a look at turn out from the last time the nomination was contested for both parties. that was 2008. when about 21% of the total number of registered republicans in iowa caucused. the dem's rate was much higher that year but that was kind of an anomaly. almost 40% of registered democrats showed up. the caucus turn out rate is much lower than who normally turns out for the general election. in 2008 that was almost 62% of all registered voters. now one reason people don't show up, it's not really as convenient as just dropping by a ballot box. you have to dedicate an entire night to it. and a lot of people don't really understand how it works. so for help with that, with enlisted the chairs of both the iowa democratic and republican
figurines. >> sabrina: dr. andy mcguire talk to us a little bit about how the caucus process works. we have these ninjas red, yellow, green and blue ninjas. and then our army men to kind of demonstrate what the caucus process looks like. >> andy: right, well i would love to. so these ninjas are our candidates, okay? >> sabrina: mmhmm >> andy: and one of them would be able to say undecided and the other three would be our candidates. and then we have the army men are the people who go to caucus. so we have out of 40, we have 16 for the green ninja. 16 for the red ninja, 4 for the yellow and then this is our undecided guy over here, our blue and four undecided. so that's how they would caucus out on caucus night. they would go to their corners and that would be how much. now, viability, which everyone talks about is a big deal in iowa. and that's typically for most caucuses that's 15%. so our ninja here would not be viable. 'cause he only has four which would be 10% of the total population at that caucus. so those people would be asked if they want to reassign or rearrange. the other people
part of the gamesmenship, if you will, of a caucus, to see who can get a candidate. sometimes you'll even have one candidate give people because someone else might get a candidate rather than a person they're really competing with. so, it's a lot of talking. it's a lot of discussing issues. and trying to figure out which candidate they think is best. and then, these four people would maybe go to one of the other locations. (crosstalk) >> sabrina: yeah, so let's say, these two go to this green ninja and then those two go to the red ninja. yellow ninja is out. >> andy: yep. so now you have your final count because they would all be viable. >> sabrina: what about the undecided. >> andy: ahh, sorry. the undecided, you can stay undecided or you can go, now he's not viable. so undecided would not be viable in that, so he would need to reassign to others too. >> sabrina: so, we'll get rid of him too. (crosstalk) >> andy: and we'll, so we put two over to the red nia. whoops. >> sabrina: (unknown) (laughing) >> sabrina: two to the green. >> andy: yeah >> sabrina: so now there are 20 and 20. one, 20 for the green, 20 for the red. so what happens next. >> andy: right, so if you had, let's say you had 6 delegates for this caucus, which is determined on things that came
on how many people came that night, it's on statistics before. then, this person would get 3 of the delegates and this person would get 3 of the delegates. >> sabrina: okay, what's the likelihood of that actually happening? (chuckles) >> andy: not bad. i've had ties and things. and it's been just like this in my caucus before. we even have if there's, um, if there's 7 delegates and you have a tie like that, you would flip for who gets the extra delegate. >> sabrina: it can all come down to a coin toss. >> andy: it can come down. >> sabrina: on the republican side it is a little bit more simple. there's no viability threshold so iowa's republican party chair shows us exactly how it works for them. >> sabrina: chairman jeff cauffman, how are ya? >> jeff: i'm just fine. glad to be here. >> sabrina: we are glad you're here. talk to me about using our lovely ninjas and army men, what the republican caucus looks like come caucus night. >> jeff: sure. it's been years since i've played with army men. (laughing) >> jeff: this is kind of fun for me, but, so, the ninjas around the outside are the 12 what i call our varsity squad, our great candidates. and each of those candidates on caucus night will probably have someone to
generally they set that up. if they don't they'll draw somebody from the crowd. so each, and this represents all of the caucus goers. and so, let's just say this is marco rubio's surrogate. well so, marco rubio's surrogate talks to everyone, makes his case or her case. and then let's say this is, i don't know, rand paul. rand paul's surrogate comes in and they talk to everyone. i don't know how bernie sanders got in here. but he's already down and out. you're not going to know, and no-one is ever going to know unless they self disclose who they actual supported. so this person may very well be voting for rubio. this person may very well be voting for paul or whatever. the, it's a silent ballot. sometimes it's actually a ballot with the names written on it. sometimes they just write the names. they take the vote when everybody's had a chance to talk. that's why we're not a primer, it's why we're a caucus because you talk about it, your choices. and then at the very end of the evening, they'll come up with a percent. so, candidate a may have 40%, candidate b may have 20%, and the, and
one of 1,681 caucus sites. so we get the results from that site, that site, that site. we're in des moines in what we call the war room. i guess that's appropriate to have the army men. >> sabrina: perfect. >> jeff: and we're in the war room. we're collecting all the results. drum roll please. at the very end, we're going to have 1st, 2nd, 3rd all the way down to 12th place. >> sabrina: because you don't necessarily have to have 15% in order to receive any votes at all because it's different than the democrats. >> jeff: exactly. unlike the democrats we do not have a viability threshold. so, if there is candidate, if candidate, ya know, f gets 1% of the vote. then that will actually show up as 1%. and if there's 1% throughout all the caucus sites, you will actually see that in the war room that night in des moines that they get 1%. and that will actually carry all the way through to the national convention. >> sabrina: well, gosh, who knew toys could be so informational. up next (music) >> sabrina: you'll see some new technology at your caucus site this year. we'll explain how it'll change the way votes are
(music) >> congratulations to governor mitt romney, winner of the 2012 iowa caucuses. (background talking) >> sabrina: mitt romney or maybe not. that was the declaration on caucus night 2012. but, it turns out the numbers were wrong. romney was not the winner. it was a massive embarrassment for the iowa gop who days later had to recant the victory for romney and declare rick santorum the winter, winner, excuse me. the end result razor thin, just 34 votes separated the two. it was precinct reporting problems that actually caused that error. something the republican party of iowa wants to keep from ever happening again. i'm sure you can imagine why. so that's why they're working with the democrats on some new technology. a caucus reporting app for smartphones. >> jeff: obviously, we had some things that we needed to fix. but not only that, if we're going to maintain 1st in the nation status, we actually need to grow and evolve. and, i can look everybody in the eye. andy can look everybody in the eye
on the cutting edge. >> andy: the two of us, the republican party of iowa and the democratic party of iowa we really are together on this. and >> sabrina: uh-huh. well, so how does the app work. our digital news editor lucas casey shows us from the digital media center. >> lucas: in all of iowa's 1681 caucus precincts the votes will be recorded and reported using nothing more than a smartphone like this one and new app from microsoft. now the democrats and the republicans each have their own version of this new microsoft app. the app is on iphone and android devices. and as i mentioned, it will be used in all 1681 voting precincts on both the republicans and the democratic side. party leaders have been holding trainings in the months leading up to the caucuses. more than 200 so far because they want to make sure and get it right on caucus night. now, in this electronic age. there's always the concern around security. microsoft has showed us a three step verification process they'll be using. first, precinct leaders
unique phone number. then, use a secret precinct code. and finally, they'll enter a pin that is texted back to that phone that was pre-registered. now, they've also built into some measures to ensure accuracy on caucus night. first of all, there are some constraints to identify potential errors. then party leaders would be able to vet those results before they publish them to the media and to the public. there's also a calculator tool. on the democratic app to figure out that viability threshold. you've heard a lot about that. democratic candidates have to have 15% in each precinct. well this tool will eliminate the need for any mental math by precinct leaders. finally, if the race is extremely close on caucus night, party leaders said they'll reserve the right to verify with mail-in ballots and that could take an extra two days after caucus night. >> sabrina: and microsoft says it's created this app at no charge to both of the parties because it's just interested in
process. we'll take a quick break. up next. (music) >> if you have to drive the car around all over the state again, i said, ted, i'm getting it wrapped. he said, well you gotta go all over the nation then. (laughing) >> sabrina: some people literally put their life on hold to help out their candidate. we'll introduce you to some of the unique people we've met on the campaign trail when we come back.
terrible, is he okay? sabrina: welcome back to caucus 101 as we get ready for iowa's first in the nation voting opportunity on february 1st. now candidates can't run a campaign by themselves, it takes a big mix of paid staffers as well as volunteers in order to keep the ground game running. we wanted to introduce you to some of the people who make it all happen. volunteers pour out of camp cruz, ready to door knock in below freezing temps. >> jerry: many, many, many thousands of doors. (laughter) >> sabrina: the ted cruz campaign has taken the old a.i.b. dorms and turned them in to a hub for volunteers. >> jerry: we tried to move nos to maybes, undecideds to yeses, and yeses in to volunteers.
least 50 of them spend their nights. >> jerry: and a lot more to come. we're about to fill up both dorms here. >> sabrina: they've come from all over. beth avery, well she's here from maryland. >> beth: i drove about 2 days out here with my mom. >> sabrina: but that pales in comparison to texan maggie wright. >> maggie: well, the first trip we took was to south carolina and so we went to oklahoma a couple of times and to iowa a couple of times. >> sabrina: she's been team cruz since his first senate race. she's always had her sights set on the white house. >> maggie: i hugged him when, before the general and i said, i hope i live long enough to see you as president. he said, oh, let's cross one bridge at a time- (laughter) >> maggie: let's get me to the senate. (laughter) >> maggie: he is the most consistent conservative and he's a christian first and he loves our country. and he spent his adult life fighting for religious liberty and the constitution. >> sabrina: back in august, she made a pretty drastic decision. >> maggie: ted says, you're gonna have to drive your car around all over the state again and i said ted, i'm getting it
and he said, well then you've gotta go all over the nation then! (laughter) >> sabrina: so she is. she and her husband have been in iowa for months and will be here until caucus night. >> maggie: people at walmart
at burleson say, oh, are you ted cruz's parents? and i say no, but we, it's like he's our adopted son. we love him. (laughter) >> sabrina: wright says this is all for her grandsons. >> maggie: i want them to grow up and see the america that i saw. >> sabrina: and if he wins? >> maggie: we'll have an inauguration that will be superb. >> sabrina: and on the democratic side, we found another interesting story. a kid campaigner who's passionate about hillary clinton. volunteers at the hillary clinton campaign are hard at work. it's crunch time before the iowa caucuses. >> i'm with the hillary clinton campaign. >> sabrina: they're calling voters, trying to get them to commit to supporting their candidate come caucus night. >> we really do ne to make sure that we have all of our supporters turn out on february 1st. >> with volunteers, the most important part, they're the ones talking to their neighbors.
taking ownership of their precinct. >> sabrina: among the chatter- >> george: hi, may i please speak to ryan? >> sabrina: you'll hear one voice that's not like the others. >> george: hi ryan, this is george and i'm calling from the hillary clinton campaign for iowa. >> sabrina: george reynal is only 11 years old. >> george: mmhmm, well thank you for you time. honestly, i have no idea how many hours i've done. >> sabrina: that's because it's a lot. >> george: i had a bit of an idea. like, i knew what a caucus was, but i didn't know how it worked. and now that i'm doing it, it's really interesting. >> sabrina: george diligently works through his list of calls to make, not allowing himself to get discouraged when people don't answer- >> you have reached the voicemail box of- >> sabrina: or when they just hang up. >> george: one out of 10. >> sabrina: that's because he says he believes in her record. >> george: i think she's the only candidate with the foreign experience that our president in this modern day of really just tensioiobetween nations needs. >> sabrina: and her vision for america. >> george: she's a fighter, she fights not just for the
americans of tomorrow. >> sabrina: he's not the only middle schooler who spends their free time here. >> just really shows, you know, how strong our grass roots organization is. >> sabrina: but he says not enough kids are doing it. >> even if they don't support hillary, just go be involved with any candidate. it's just a great opportunity. >> sabrina: george's parents tell us he became a hillary supporter independent of their views. his parents haven't even decided who they were going to vote for when he started campaigning. (music) >> sabrina: ok, up next, iowans who've lived here their whole life may take it for granted. but coming up next, we'll talk to a transplant who just can't
(music)>> sabrina: well, because it is such a tight race, turn out to the caucuses is expected to be unusually high this time around. but it can be intimidating, especially for those who have never been before. we talked to one man who recently moved here and will be participating for the first time. here's his story. dorman crawford moved here from the east coast, where he participated in a primary. nothing like the craziness that
>> dorman: it's the primary, you go to your location and you go in to a booth and then you select the person you're voting for. >> sabrina: this is his first election cycle in iowa. now he says he feels like his voice will matter more. >> dorman: definitely excited, because you get engaged. where at a primary, it's just, oh, you're just another person. you go in and you pull a lever. >> sabrina: at time when engagement is so important. >> dorman: i bring a different perspective, being a minority. the economy has bounced back nicely for some. but then there's some that are still left out. >> sabrina: that's why he says the economy is the number one issue. he knows who he's supporting, but encourages others to get involved no matter which candidate they're for. >> dorman: to feel like you're part of something because people tend to feel, oh why should i vote? you know, my voice is not being heard and they feel left out. definitely, i'm a true believer that, you know, if you don't vote, don't complain. >> sabrina: when wcome back,
(music) coming up quick, monday, february 1st. if you need more information before you make your opinions known, please go online to our voter guide. inhe des moines area, that's weareiowa.com, in n oux city, siouxlandmatters.com and for the quad city viewers, check out ourquadcities.com. (music) to good places to learn more about the candidates, issues and how the caucuses work. thank you so much for joining us on this special edition of this week in iowa, caucus 101. we'll also be back on air sunday again as we countdown to the caucuses. (music)