Here’s a pretty good video explaining how caucuses work.
There are a couple of other things to keep in mind.
1. The first line of the explanation on the video is: “If you show up here tonight…” This is the point I made the other day.
The advantage goes to the candidates whose supporters have been to caucus before and who have deep roots in their communities. Remember, caucus sites are in churches, community centers and schools. (There are no more living room caucuses because of ADA requirements.)
If your supporters have been to caucus before, your campaign has an obvious advantage. But it also helps if your supporters live, work, worship and send their kids to school in a small town – chances are, they’ve probably been to the caucus site before.
If your campaign is counting on newbies, transplants and more urban voters, well… try to remember the last time you had to go to an event in January at night at an unknown location.
2. Surrogates get to make speeches in an attempt to win the last-minute support of undecided voters. Strong campaigns will have identified, deputized and trained local supporters to make an impassioned speech on behalf of their candidate.
Weaker, less organized campaigns will be unrepresented. Strength follows strength.
There are 1,774 separate caucuses going on tonight at 809 separate locations. (If a town only has one precinct, that’s a single precinct at a single locations. But many communities will have multiple precincts caucusing in the same facility.) So at very least you need someone to make the great five minute speech in all 809 sites (assuming that the site has all of the precincts together in a single room.) Even better: have 1,774 precinct captains to make the speech, whip the vote and win over undecided voters in one-on-one conversations.
Finally – we forget this part – these are precinct caucuses. In other words, these are friends, family and neighbors. It’s one thing to have a fire-breathing supporter be your precinct captain. It’s another thing altogether to have lined up a community or church leader to speak on your candidate’s behalf.
So when you’re handicapping tonight, give a few extra points to the campaigns with the strongest caucus-level organizations led by people who have been to caucus or are well-known and respected in the community.