Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Iowa caucuses, which will likely have a major impact on the presidential race, are bizarre

The first thing you need to know about the Iowa caucuses is that almost nobody attends them. Unlike voting, attending a caucus requires every participant to meet simultaneously in church basements, living rooms and elementary school gymnasiums across the state. It probably takes half an hour in the best of circumstances. It also requires you to disclose your vote publicly. The party asks your initial preference when you enter the room. (This way, future political candidates can acquire a record of how you've leaned in every previous caucus and target you accordingly with mailings and telephone calls.) Then, because the way you cast your vote in a caucus is to stand in the corner of the room assigned to your candidate, all your neighbors get to observe your opinion.