Considering the outcome of the Iowa Caucuses (caucusi?), I decided to see how this procedure works. One thing is certain, it’s not just another primary.
To put it simply, each precinct has it’s own “caucus,” or mini-convention, for each party. People gather at a central location, a school, church, etc., and then discuss their choice of candidate.
For the Republicans, they take a straw poll then dole out the representatives much like electoral delegates. This is similar to a normal primary election, however it’s done in one huge gathering.
For the Democrats, it’s much different. There is an open discussion about what candidates are “viable,” then they do a show of hands vote. Candidates who receive under 15% of the vote are eliminated, then delegates are distributed to those who are above 15%.
This is why the Republican results look more like a traditional primary result, while the Democrat results are so high for the top 3, and so low for the rest.