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What is a Caucus?

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During a primary season, the vast majority of states hold primary elections. In a primary, voters anonymously select their chosen candidate. But some states, like Iowa, use a more complicated event to show their preferences for candidates: caucuses.

What is a caucus?

In a caucus, voters are required to show up in person and make a public declaration of their politics. Residents are asked to group up by candidate, physically positioning themselves in clusters with other like-minded voters. For example, Sanders' supporters will group in one area, Warren's supporters in another, and so on.

If a group has less than 15% support, they either need to recruit new members or join other, more populous candidates.

Critics of caucuses point to their complex rules and time commitment, which narrows who can participate. But some efforts have been made to mitigate these issues. For the first time, Iowa held “satellite caucuses” outside of Iowa's borders.

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